Are you so in tune with the emotions of the people around you that you suffer from extreme anxiety? It’s bad enough to come over in all-consuming waves of worry over how someone else might feel about what someone else said, or even worse about what you said – you know, when the thing that you said came out all wrong, and you realised it could have been misinterpreted!
All of that over-thinking stuff by an over-thinker is bad enough, but imagine if all you had to do was to eat an item of food, to experience all of the emotions and traumatic memories of the someone who cooked it. So why not stick to factory-processed food? I hear you ask. It’s all made by robots, nowadays, isn’t it? But, what if your senses were so astute that you could even track the last thoughts of the operator who flicked on the robot’s power supply?
Would you be gifted, or cursed?
As Rosie, the central character of Aimee Bender’s novel, The Sadness of Lemon Cakes, discovers, being able to involuntarily feel the emotions of her family and friends, and even the local sandwich-maker, is a curse. To have a mouthful of a delicious lemon and chocolate cake ruined by ‘the taste of smallness, the sensation of shrinking, of upset’ (p.10), in short, of the anxiety felt by the mother who baked it, is hardly going to enhance Rosie’s experience of childhood – years in which a young girl should be carefree and happy, unburdened by the worries of the adult world.
The story is beautifully written but, whereas I find Rosie’s ability to feel what she eats, not totally beyond the boundaries of the believable, I find the parallel story of her brother’s ability to become one with an inanimate object (in this case, a chair), although fascinating, far less convincing.* To me, the two stories, and the skills of the two siblings, don’t really connect.
Is it plausible that sibling DNA, from the same mother and father, could produce a daughter who reads minds through food and a son who can turn himself into a folding chair? Could the author have brought in a little more dosh by saving the second idea for a separate novel?
Copyright owned by Jay Cool, July 2018
*I myself can read minds, through the books I read (really!), and something tells me that Aimee Bender, like myself, was once a big fan of Enid Blyton’s ‘Wishing Chair’ series!