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Wednesday, 7 November 2018

Book review: The Particular Sadness of Lemon Cake, Aimee Bender (2011)

I really tried with this novel but in the end my willpower failed me and I put it down at about 44 percent of the way through. It’s meant to be a poignant story about a young girl who discovers one day that she has the ability to know the provenance of food. This gift allows her to have insights about her mother’s mood, or about the state of mind of workers in processing factories in the US, where she lives.

When the gift first touches on the character, Rose Epstein, you are intrigued because prior to that the novel had a sort of Norman Rockwell-like optimism that had been deeply disappointing. But the ruse Bender uses to push the plot along turns out to be equally insipid. What you are confronted with is a politically progressive take on the world with all of its own strict rules and personal gripes. It’s hardly anything like reality. In fact what you get is just another type of oppression, this time one directed by a left-leaning, educated woman with all of her own problems and insecurities. The story turned to ashes for me in the end.

This is a disappointing work of speculative fiction that left me with an empty feeling as though all the life that might have inhabited it had been sucked out by some vampiric being. The totalitarianism of the left is as awful as that of the right.

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