The Memory of Lemon – Judith Fertig

(Reviewed by JD Jung)

“My body thrummed with the energy I knew to be vivid intuition… Wanderers. Healers. They had something important to tell me. “

Claire, a pastry chef who also caters weddings, depends on her intuition based on flavors. This gift, which she inherited from her grandmother, helps her to cater the perfect event. Not only is she able to taste a flavor linked to a client’s emotions and needs, she can also sense an issue from their past.

Suddenly her senses are clouded and she is unable to “taste”  her new clients:  a bickering mother and daughter disagreeing on the details for the bride’s wedding . For instance,  when she tastes“lemon” which usually implies clarity, she now tastes “wanderer”. “Spice” which is the sign of comfort also signifies “healer”.

Could her confusing personal life be the cause of this? Claire moved from New York City to her hometown in the Midwest. She is trying to end her marriage to a philandering NFL quarterback, while an old male friend may be romantically re-entering her life. Also, she suddenly hears from her father, a Viet Nam vet, who abandoned her at age fifteen. Should she allow him back in her life?

Through flashbacks she, as well as the reader, learn about her family history as well as that of the bride-to-be — wanderers and healers—and how they may have intersected and affected her life.

Even though the the family histories were fascinating,  I initially felt that the  flashbacks were confusing and disjointed. However, I’m glad that I hung in there; as I read further it all made perfect sense. Can memories can be passed down through generations?

Personal character and growth, family, reconciliation and  yes, forgiveness are all themes of this enjoyable novel.

I recommend The Memory of Lemon for those who seek a unique and somewhat emotional but lighter read.

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