In what is certain to be one of the most talked-about fiction debuts of the year, Yasmin Crowther paints a magnificent portrait of betrayal and retribution set against a backdrop of Irans tumultuous history, dramatic landscapes, and cultural beauty. The story begins on a blustery day in London, when Maryam Mazars dark secrets and troubled past surface violently with tragic consequences for her pregnant daughter, Sara. Burdened by guilt, Maryam leaves her comfortable English home for the remote village in Iran where she was raised and disowned by her father. When Sara decides to follow her she learns the price that her mother had to pay for her freedom and of the love she left behind. Poetic, haunting, and brilliantly crafted, The Saffron Kitchen is sure to entrance fans of Jhumpa Lahiris The Namesake and Amy Tans The Joy Luck Club.
A solitude ten thousand fathoms deep
Sustains the bed on which we lie, my dear;
Although I love you, you will have to leap;
Our dream of safety has to disappear.
W. H. Auden
Strange not to know that youre alive or even that youre about to die.
Thats what it must have been like for my unborn baby. Id been kicked in
the guts by my young cousin, as I hauled him back from trying to jump over
the bridges railings into the cold green water rushing out to sea. My
mothers scream rang in my ears as she ran toward us and the world froze:
the churn of the Thames at high tide, the rumble of going-home school
traffic and the tremble of the bridge. In that moment, my baby started to
And then the world unfroze. The traffic rolled by as if nothing had happened, and my cousin, Saeed, and I clung together on the pavement. When my mother finally reached us, she hauled Saeed to his feet, shook him hard, ...
The title of Crowther's first novel might lead prospective readers to believe that The Saffron Kitchen is the latest addition to that comforting sub-genre of "foodie-novels" that feed the mind and whet the appetite in equal measure by interspersing tasty recipes into the plot. This is not the case, in fact food takes a definite back seat to themes of culture, family and identity as we follow one woman's struggle to find happiness as she is pulled between two very different worlds.
(Reviewed by BookBrowse Review Team).
Full Review (1238 words).
A Short History of Iran
If your recollection of the recent history of Iran is a little rusty, this brief background should refresh your memory of the events that form the backdrop to Maryam's childhood:
Iran's 4,000 year history is summed up by Dr Saeed in The Saffron Kitchen. Referring to Iran before and after the 1979 revolution he says, "We were welcomed around the world for our oil, yes, but also for our culture, our civilization ..... Now a quarter century later, if you have an Iranian passport, people here, the authorities, think you're a ...
If you liked The Saffron Kitchen, try these:
Written in a lush, lyrical style, infused with the flavors and scents of Middle Eastern food, and spiced with history and fable, Crescent is a sensuous love story and a gripping tale of risk and commitment. The reading guide includes a number of recipes to share with friends and family!
Infused with the textures and scents, trials and triumphs of two distinct cultures this is an infectious, richly detailed story, highlighted with delicious recipes - a delectable journey into the heart of Persian cooking and Irish living.
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