Tuesday, March 8, 2011
The Saffron Kitchen by Yasmin Crowther
I have loved all the books and movies I have read/seen from Iran. When I first read Pomegranate Soup I rushed out to buy the ingredients and people in my old apartment building still talk about the beautiful aroma that wafted around the 4th floor. (Okay I know this wasn't actually set in Iran but it was about an Iranian family!) When my bookgroup read Honeymoon in Purdah my friend and I wanted to get on the next plane over! And as for The Color of Paradise and Children of Heaven - well, they will always be the first foreign movies, along with Amelie and Life is Beautiful, that I recommend to people. Yes, I am very much a fan of Persia.
And this book didn't let me down at all. Within a few chapters the descriptions of food had me hunting for recipes of feta and mint tarts and checking to see if there were any Persian restaurants I could visit when I go away to the West Midlands next. My fascination with this country continues.
The main characters in the book are mother and daughter, Maryam and Sara. The story begins in London, with Sara miscarrying her baby whilst out with her mother and young cousin Saeed, who has come to live with his Aunty Maryam after his mother's death in Iran. Without giving too much away, after this sad event Maryam decides to return to the remote Iranian mountain village of her childhood. We learn the secrets of her past and how she came to leave Iran as a young woman in tragic circumstances. The story moves with ease from her childhood as the daughter of a general in the Shah's army,to present time Iran and London. The language is beautiful and the descriptions are so vivid. I could almost see the brightly coloured chadors and I've already mentioned the food!! The journeys, both mental and physical, Maryam and Sara take are dramatic and fraught at times but ultimately Sara is able to finally understand and, I think, forgive her mother. Admittedly it isn't a jolly book and if you are looking for a "And they all lived happily ever after" ending then this might leave you a bit wanting. But it is a gorgeous, thought provoking, believable story that totally engrossed me. It's something I will definitely read again in a few years. Read and enjoy!