I love books with quirky titles.
They have become quite popular over the last few years ever since The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time became a hit in 2003. But a quirky title is only truly memorable if the novel is equally as creative and well-written, which is not always the case, alas.
Thankfully The Particular Taste of Lemon Cake has a catchy title and a beautifully written story, which is exactly what you would expect from the author, the gloriously talented Aimee Bender.
The book tells the story of shy Rose Edelstein who discovers as a child that she can sense the emotions of the person who has cooked the food she is eating. She discovers quickly though that this gift is more of a curse than a blessing since it means she knows more about those she loves, and wants to love, than she should. This includes her mother who though she is outwardly gregarious and accomplished, is secretly despairing of life. She finds out that her father and brother have secrets too, all of which shakes the confidence of Rose who almost instantly sees food as a threat, rather than a comfort.
But it’s not all doom and icing-topped gloom. At it’s heart it’s a beautifully written book about how much goes unsaid between people and how the ability to pick up on these unremarked undercurrents can profoundly change the way you relate to the rest of the human race.