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The saffron kitchen by Yasmin Crowther
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The saffron kitchen (original 2006; edition 2006)

by Yasmin Crowther

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5672626,161 (3.5)29
Member:napoleon-in-rags
Title:The saffron kitchen
Authors:Yasmin Crowther
Info:Viking (2006), Edition: First American Edition, Hardcover
Collections:To read
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The Saffron Kitchen by Yasmin Crowther (2006)

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English (24)  Norwegian (2)  All languages (26)
Showing 1-5 of 24 (next | show all)
It seems like I read this book years ago! But in fact, it was just two months ago. I have slipped into my "can't finish a book I start" phase. Thankfully I did finish Yasmin Crowther's The Saffron Kitchen.

Nothing exceptional about this book really. To me I felt it was more an effort to include Iran in the story and therefore garner the attention of those "Oh! I love the exotic dangerous Middle East!" types who would read anything that mentions Ali in a book. The story was simple : at the beginning Sara suffers a miscarriage after her mother Maryam's violent outburst against Saeed. Maryam runs off to her beloved Iran leaving her British husband behind and rediscover her old love Ali.

The writing is lyrical and it is Yasmin Crowther's maiden venture. So keeping that in mind, the book is not tedious at any stretch. However, I felt that the most interesting part of the book was Maryam herself, and her relationship with Ali in Iran. The rest of the drama - the troubled mother-daughter relationship was painfully wrought out, and ended in a bizarre snowed-out scenario that puts Sara, Ali and Maryam in the same place, and they are forced into acknowledging the truths of the past. By then, you could almost guess what the truths and mysteries were, and have reached the point where you just want to finish the book because it should not end up being another on the "to be completed" shelf.
( )
  Soulmuser | May 30, 2017 |
Picked this up at the Rabun County Library book sale last month. While I read it, Rabun county was on my mind with the fires as much as Iran was with the story. ( )
  bookczuk | Nov 24, 2016 |
A resounding 'eh'. ( )
  laurenbufferd | Nov 14, 2016 |
I really wanted to like this book but it just left me never grabbed me emotionally. I don't know if it is a case of me comparing it subconsciously to [b:A Thousand Splendid Suns|128029|A Thousand Splendid Suns|Khaled Hosseini|http://photo.goodreads.com/books/1255571567s/128029.jpg|3271379] and [b:The Kite Runner|77203|The Kite Runner|Khaled Hosseini|http://photo.goodreads.com/books/1255573780s/77203.jpg|3295919], both of which have a much greater emotional depth and I felt gave a greater understanding the lives of the main characters and what they had suffered. ( )
  KarenDuff | Jun 1, 2016 |
A moving novel about a Iranian mother and the secrets from her early life that she has not shared with her English-born daughter.

Like Sara in her book, Yasmin Crowther was born and raised in Great Britain by an Iranian mother who had come there in her twenties and married an Englishman. Unlike Sara, she visited her mother’s homeland and knew it extensively. In The Saffron Kitchen, she seeks to bridge the dividedness of being both Iranian and English which she and her mother shared.

Crower tells the story of Maryam and Sara with skill and compassion. The lines of Matthew Arnold’s poem, “Dover Beach,” run through the book reflecting the idealism and resignation of its characters, and the admonition to be true to one’s self. Varied characters include women like Maryam who find Iranian gender definitions oppressive and others who are able to find strength and grace with in them. Male characters range from the harsh and narrow-minded to those who are unusually sensitive to the women they love.

Maryam had grown up in a priviledged family in Iran, spending summers in a remote mountain village. When her father was humiliated by her actions as a teenager, he exiled her from the life she had known. After training as a nurse, she went to England, happily married, and had a daughter. As Sara grew up, her mother seemed to be well assimilated, but Maryam remained subject to strange moods and angers. When an orphaned nephew joined the family, she falls apart, hurts other, and returns to Iran. Her husband and her grown daughter, Sara, have no idea what lies behind her actions. Sara must follow her mother to the mountain village of her childhood, before either can balance the meaning of the old and the new in their lives.

I thoroughly enjoyed The Saffron Kitchen and recommend it highly to other readers who care about complex stories of coming to terms with who we are. ( )
  mdbrady | May 18, 2016 |
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Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 0143112740, Paperback)

In The Saffron Kitchen, Yasmin Crowther has captured, with uncanny accuracy and grace, the deep confusion and conflict visited upon a mother and her daughter by their respective histories. The mother, Maryam, is an Iranian woman, daughter of a general and member of a well-respected family during the Shah's reign. When she became separated from her family at the start of the revolution and was sheltered chastely overnight by Ali, her father's servant, her life was forever changed. Disowned by her father, she moves to Tehran to become a nurse and then to London, where she meets and marries Edward, a fine and gentle man who adores her. When the story begins, their daughter, Sara, born in England, married to an Englishman, and ignorant of her mother's haunted history, is newly pregnant. When she miscarries, during a dramatic confrontation with her mother and her young Iranian cousin, years of secrets and pretending unravel at last.

Maryam decides to go to Iran, to distance herself from these events. What follows, in Crowther's revelatory manner, is a perfect portrayal of a half-life, one lived only on the surface. Maryam comes into her own when she goes back to her village; the sights, sounds, and smells all beckon to her with their sweet familiarity. England falls away, with all its confusing customs and strange language, as does Edward, with his so very different background. Beckoned by her mother, Sara comes to visit and to ferret out the particulars of her mother's past. The question remains: will Maryam return to Edward and England or stay where she is once again at home?

Crowther writes with great insight about attempting to cast off one's past--and the impossibility of doing so. The saffron kitchen of the title is a lovely evocation, both symbolic and actual, of what gets left behind and of one daughter's willingness to occupy both worlds. --Valerie Ryan

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:01:20 -0400)

(see all 3 descriptions)

Maryam Mazar's hidden past once again resurfaces, threatening both her life and the life of her daughter, Sara, and her newly orphaned nephew Saeed, forcing Maryam to return to her native village in Iran to put things right once and for all.

(summary from another edition)

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