I really wanted to love this book by Yasmin Crowther. It has one of those book jackets that is so terribly appealing, especially in the way it feels. Yes, I really wanted to love this book. I love the word "saffron."
But I just couldn't love it. There was something not quite right in the telling of the story. For one, the POV changed not chapter by chapter, which I can deal with, but by sections within chapters. Unmarked sections that made me say, "Wait, who? Huh?" Add that in with occasional flashbacks, and the effect was perplexing and jarring.
The story itself lacked deep feeling. I never connected at any level—as a woman, daughter, wife, or mother—with any of the characters. There is Maryam, an Iranian woman in her 60s who leaves her home of 40 years in England to go back to Iran and her childhood love, Ali. And there is Sara, her Anglo-Iranian daughter, who has a miscarriage in the opening scene which is apparently caused by Maryam. That whole scene was confusing to me and probably set the tone for the rest of the book. Sara is furious with her mother for causing her miscarriage, of course, and also for leaving her father and returning to Iran after a lifetime spent together.
As I said, the story for me lacked deep feeling, but it wasn't too deeply buried beneath the surface. Every now and then I could glimpse the makings of a really good story. This is Crowther's debut novel, and I have a feeling she'll be able to iron out the wrinkles in her next novel. All the pieces are there—she has good dialogue and nice writing—but just not quite put together.
Other Reviews of The Saffron Kitchen
Unified Theory of Nothing Much
Red Room Library