Ruth HamiltonвЂ™s A PARALLEL LIFE is a darkly comedic novel about an extraordinarily dysfunctional family. It is an English comedy of errors that is sometimes over the top, reminiscent of Monty Python or a Peter Sellers movie.
Hermione is the matriarch of the Compton-Milnes family. Despite having Multiple Sclerosis and being wheelchair bound, her mind is sharp as a tack and she possesses great wisdom. She insists on Tuesday morning breakfasts for the purpose of the whole family getting together. The rest of the family is not big on these breakfasts but they attend at her request. Other than these breakfasts they usually meet one another on the run.
Ever since the publication of her story collection,THE GIRL IN THE FLAMMABLE SKIRT, Aimee Bender has established herself as a writer of minimalist magic realism, a description that seems contradictory given the lush prose of the founding father of magic realism, Gabriel Garcia Marquez, and the emotional adjective-laden writing of popular American author Alice Hoffman. But Aimee Bender has claimed her niche as a writer who tells stories the way we pass on fairy tales to our children: spare plots that contain wondrous images and, ultimately, wisdom. Her plots center on one or two magic elements in an otherwise ordinary world. In her latest novel, THE PARTICULAR SADNESS OF LEMON CAKE, Bender focuses on narrator Rose, a girl who learns, to her horror, that she can taste the emotions of those who cooked or grew her food, whether that person is her desperate mother or the farmer who grew the organic lettuce in her salad. As Rose matures along with her вЂњgift,вЂќ she learns about the peculiar history of her family and gains insight into her odd brother Joseph, who suffers, too, but in a wholly different manner.
The book is told in the voice of Judd Foxman. It starts off with Judd finding out that his wife of ten years is cheating on him with his boss, a radio jock. Shortly after realizing heвЂ™s a cuckold, he gets a call from his sister telling him that their father died and that his father wanted them to sit Shiva. (This is a Jewish ritual that the immediate family participates in for seven days after the death of a loved one). Judd immediately leaves for his motherвЂ™s house to meet up with his two brothers, his sister, and his mother.