Thursday, July 29, 2010

The Particular Sadness of Lemon Cake

I never imagined that I would be writing a book review on my Frosted blog, but since I read a book that involved food I am thinking that it is fine and you will bear with me.

I have always loved to read. I don't have time for it as much as I used to, so I have found myself limited to my priority reading. This includes the bible, cook books and baking how to books, food magazines, books on parenting, marriage and other books that help or enhance where I am at in life. Fiction, although entertaining, had fallen off my radar and with no time to devote to escaping in the pages to some made up place or fall in love with made up characters, I had neglected any and all fiction for years.


I spotted this book by Aimee Bender at the local Borders.

I opened it up and read the first chapter.

"The room filled with the smell of warming butter and sugar and lemon and eggs, and at five, the timer buzzed and I pulled out the cake and placed it on the stove top. The house was quiet. The bowl of icing was right there on the counter, ready to go, and cakes are best when just out of the oven, and I really couldn't possibly wait, so I reached to the side of the cake pan, to the least obvious part, and pulled off a small warm spongy chunk of deep gold. Iced it all over with chocolate. Popped the whole thing into my mouth."

I loved Bender's descriptions. Her words came alive and I was there in the kitchen with the nine year old character. I bought the book and have looked forward to my moments of reading before bed time.

My own days are filled with baking, so a book with a story about food enchanted me. I found the book to be relatively clean. That is to say, no sordid sex tales or violence. No horrific human behavior. I felt myself pulled into the tale woven in the pages and hanging on to find out if the mystery of the main character would be revealed.

But, I will warn any would-be readers that you may get sucked into a seemingly normal story with a normal family who just happens to have some abnormal abilities. And then *Bam* 3/4 of the way through the book the author hits you with a scene like something out of a sci-fi film. I have to say, that if I had read that chapter in the beginning I wouldn't have finished the story, because I would have been too weirded out. (I prefer more realistic or idealistic interpretations of life in fiction.) But because I was already engrossed in the character and the story itself and because of an unquenchable curiosity to see how the story would find resolution on the pages ahead, I pushed past my uncomfortable shock and read on.

The last few chapters of the book offered some resolution. But it didn't have the ending I would have liked. I analyzed this for a bit after I finished the book. Perhaps I would not be happy with any ending. I guess I don't like endings.

Cakes come to an end. A rather swift end, I must add. At least with Frosted, I do my best to offer a happy ending...