Love & Saffron: A Novel of Friendship, Food, and Love – Kim Fay

What a nice little book! 

Love & Saffron, one of my latest Edelweiss findings, is an interesting tale. It was sitting in my Historical Section box, unassuming and lacking the flashy cover that many other books sport nowadays. Of course it caught my eye – it would have been odd if it didn’t. A quick look at the blurb sealed the deal: I needed it to be mine to read and review.

How did it go? Well, good! Love & Saffron ended up pushing my culinary boundaries and left me with a deep, satisfied feeling. 

**

In the vein of the classic 84, Charing Cross Road and Meet Me at the Museum, this witty and tender novel follows two women in 1960s America as they discover that food really does connect us all, and that friendship and laughter are the best medicine.

When twenty-seven-year-old Joan Bergstrom sends a fan letter–as well as a gift of saffron–to fifty-nine-year-old Imogen Fortier, a life-changing friendship begins. Joan lives in Los Angeles and is just starting out as a writer for the newspaper food pages. Imogen lives on Camano Island outside Seattle, writing a monthly column for a Pacific Northwest magazine, and while she can hunt elk and dig for clams, she’s never tasted fresh garlic–exotic fare in the Northwest of the sixties. As the two women commune through their letters, they build a closeness that sustains them through the Cuban Missile Crisis, the assassination of President Kennedy, and the unexpected in their own lives.

Food and a good life–they can’t be separated. It is a discovery the women share, not only with each other, but with the men in their lives. Because of her correspondence with Joan, Imogen’s decades-long marriage blossoms into something new and exciting, and in turn, Joan learns that true love does not always come in the form we expect it to. Into this beautiful, intimate world comes the ultimate test of Joan and Imogen’s friendship–a test that summons their unconditional trust in each other.

A brief respite from our chaotic world, Love & Saffron is a gem of a novel, a reminder that food and friendship are the antidote to most any heartache, and that human connection will always be worth creating.

192 pages
Historical
G.P. Putnam’s Sons (Penguin Publishing Group)
Goodreads

**

Cover: Nice. It’s tasteful, something I’m not taking for granted anymore, and it tells everyone what the book is about. What more could you want?

Yay!

  • Love & Saffron, a novel written by Kim Fay, explores the lives of Joan and Imogen. These two women start corresponding in the early sixties, and their relationship soon develops into a true friendship. They confide in each other via letter, sharing secrets, personal failures and achievements. It sounds simple enough, and yet it isn’t.
  • I mentioned my culinary boundaries being pushed in my introduction, right? Because Love & Saffron did it. I’m not a great cook nor a foodie. My approach to food is utilitarian at best: eating is necessary to survive, I like to see nice food pictures, and that’s it. All the recipes, the ingredients featured there grabbed my attention though, so much that I googled a bit of this, a little of that. Saffron was the very first thing I searched for, of course. That doesn’t mean I’m ready to try anything, as I like my kitchen as it is: unexploded and not on fire XD
  • Good style, good structure, good grammar. Yay! Granted, Love & Saffron is a bit peculiar, because it mixes regular and epistolary prose, but it’s a format that works well. You know how I’m not waving the double POVs flag here, and yet I always seem to grab double POVs books? Well, maybe this story will make me rethink my stance, at least for a while. The fact that there are no mistakes or typos makes it all better.
  • Love & Saffron is a short book, and that makes it great. Given its structure, adding more would have veered the book to Tedious Land, a huge no.

Nay!

  • I found it hard to suspend my disbelief a couple of times. Nothing major and I can’t talk about it in detail as I prefer to avoid revealing crucial plot points. They just feel a little off, considering. 

TL;DR

4 stars on GR.

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