Posted in 3 Stars, Book Review

REVIEW: The Memory of Lemon by Judith Fertig


Genre: Magical Realism, Romance, Women’s Fiction
Publisher: Berkeley (Reprint edition)
Publication Date: June 14, 2016
Formats Available: Kindle, Paperback

The author of The Cake Therapist returns with another sweet and emotional tale featuring Neely, the baker with a knack for finding exactly the right flavor for any occasion . . . 

A crisp tang of citrus that is at once poignant and familiar, sharpening the senses and opening the mind to possibilities once known and long forgotten . . . 

Claire “Neely” Davis is no ordinary pastry chef. Her flavor combinations aren’t just a product of a well-honed palate: she can “taste” people’s emotions, sensing the ingredients that will touch her customers’ souls. Her gift has never failed her—until she meets a free-spirited bride-to-be and her overbearing society mother. The two are unable to agree on a single wedding detail, and their bickering leaves Neely’s intuition frustratingly silent—right when she needs it most. 

Between trying to navigate a divorce, explore a new relationship, and handle the reappearance of her long-absent father, Neely is struggling to make sense of her own conflicting emotions, much less those of her hard-to-please bride. But as she embarks on a flavorful quest to craft the perfect wedding celebration, she’ll uncover a family history that sheds light on both the missing ingredients and her own problems—and illustrates how the sweet and sour in life often combined to make the most delicious memories . . .

MY RATING: 📚 📚 📚

This book seemed to check all my qualifying boxes. Chick-lit? Check. Food fiction? Check. A hint of magical realism? Check. I couldn’t wait to start reading it. I was expecting some cross between The Devil Wears Prada and Like Water for Chocolate, which perhaps was an unfair expectation.

Unfortunately, I didn’t enjoy The Memory of Lemon near as much as I enjoyed the idea of it. The characters were interesting, but I never felt like I really was able to become acquainted with any of them. Even though the reader spends half the book in Neely’s head, I didn’t feel like I really knew her at all. This could very well be due to the fact that this is a sequel to The Cake Therapist, which I did not realize until after I had already started reading. I had hoped the book would focus more on the gift that Neely shares with her father and grandmother, the ability not only to taste emotions but also to experience the memories of others. I also found the flashbacks to be very confusing and wished the author had included a few family tree charts, because it was very difficult to keep track of who was who, and who was related to who. I’m still not sure I completely understand.

That being said, despite being confused a great deal of the time, my interest held until the end. The ending was a bit predictable but I still enjoyed it. The descriptions of flavors and pastries were absolutely mouth-watering–in fact, I think this is the strongest aspect of the book! The romance was sweet, and I wish there was more of it! Even though I’m sure it seems my reaction to this book was lackluster at best, this concept is so intriguing that I find myself still interested in going back to read The Cake Therapist and any future books about Neely.

I received a complimentary copy from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.



Olivia Ard is the author of women's fiction trilogy The Bennett Series and Readers' Favorite 5-Star recipient 'Tis the Season. She is pursuing a second degree in sociology. She and her husband JD live in Central Alabama, where they await their miracle baby's arrival this November with joyful expectation.

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