My 2017 in Books – ‘The Saffron Kitchen’

The Saffron Kitchen – Yasmin Crowther

The Saffron Kitchen is told from the perspective of Sara, a half Iranian and half British woman living in London; as well as her mother Maryam, who left Iran as a young woman to make a new life.

One day in London, a tragic event involving pregnant Sara, leads Maryam to leave London and go to Iran, for how long no one knows. Her daughter Sara, who is married, is left with her father to pick up the pieces Maryam left behind.

The story flits between Sara in London, Maryam in Iran as a child growing up and Maryam in the present as an adult. Sara and Maryam have a difficult relationship and Sara is trying to understand her mother and why she has acted certain ways throughout her childhood.

I enjoyed the parts of the story about Maryam’s childhood in her remote village in Iran; her difficult relationship with her father and how she finds solace in her mother figure, Fatima. Maryam grows up resenting the woman’s place in Iran. She does not want to get married and lose her independence or her spirit. After feeling guilty about the tragic event in London, Maryam decides she has to go back to Iran and she seems to suddenly have a unstoppable desire to stay there no matter what the consequences are. This aspect of the story I did not find believable due to the way Maryam’s resentment of the norms and traditions regarding women in Iran were portrayed so heavily.

Neither Maryam nor Sara were particularly likeable and I found it hard to feel a connection with either one of them. The plot seemed to make jumps which didn’t make sense and were not made believable. Maryam’s past and her father cutting off all ties with her before she came to Britain was built up a lot throughout the book, however, the climax didn’t live up to the suspense that had been created and I expected more from it.

I had been looking forward to reading this and I expected to be captivated by it but I was somewhat disappointed. Overall, the plot in this story was lacklustre and the characters did not have enough depth for me. However, I enjoyed certain aspects of the book, especially the scenes of Maryam’s upbringing and the setting of Iran.

5/10

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