For July, the Kitchen Reader book club read “The Particular Sadness of Lemon Cake“.
Lately I’ve been gravitating towards books about food whether that be day in the life’s, memoirs or essays on women chefs. Before this, I would almost exclusively read novels. But since getting on this food book kick, I’ve stuck with non-fiction since that seems to be the most common type in the gastronomic genre. The Kitchen Reader book club selected a novel for its July selection and I was intrigued. I went through a few different levels of interest while reading this book.
I know, never judge a book by its cover but you know what, I do. At least initially. That is what catches your eye and piques your interest. Or, at least it is supposed to. This cover paired with its cloying title immediately made me think it was going to be about some lovesick career woman who can’t find love when its right in front of her and wallows in lemon cake. Eye roll. Who wants to read that? As I sat down to read it, preparing my eyes for rolling, I discovered it wasn’t about this at all. The premise was quite interesting and I became curious. It took a bit to reel me in, but after actual things started to happen I was intrigued. Though I couldn’t help but be disgusted by the protagonist’s necessary diet of factory created food, I was a fan of the idea that she could taste the feelings of the people who created her meals. We all do that a bit right? A rushed plate of spaghetti and carefully prepared ravioli with perfectly crinkled edges will be completely different. I enjoyed this phenomenon being explored in a charmingly mysterious way.
However, I soon became quite frustrated. The story, while unpredictable, went to places that I didn’t feel I could follow. I wanted to keep her “power” and its origins more of a secret and some of the revelations seemed incoherent or quite frankly, kind of dumb. The explanations were hard to follow and Rose became harder and harder to understand. The non-culmination of her romantic feelings was not explained in any sort of satisfactory manner and I was just continually frustrated by the lack of communication and relation between all of the characters. I just couldn’t understand it or get behind it. Once Rose starts to cook for herself things picked up a bit, but again the explanations of her own feelings didn’t make sense to me. I’m not really one for poetry and some reviews I’ve read of this novel mentioned that it was like poetry. Maybe that’s why I liked the initial conceit, but not much else. I do wish I had some cake though…