The Saffron Kitchen
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The Saffron Kitchen

3.47 of 5 stars 3.47  ·  rating details  ·  1,920 ratings  ·  378 reviews
One autumn day in London, the dark and troubled past of Maryam Mazar surfaces violently - with tragic consequences for her pregnant daughter, Sara. Racked with guilt, Maryam is compelled to leave her home and husband to return to Mazareh, the remote Iranian village where her story began. There, among the snow-capped mountains and wind-swept plains, she is confronted by her...more
Paperback, 270 pages
Published August 1st 2008 by Abacus Software (first published August 22nd 2006)
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Tea Jovanović
Lepa knjiga... dobra priča... debitantski roman... Dobar prevod... :)
Shovelmonkey1
Oct 27, 2011 Shovelmonkey1 rated it 3 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: arm chair travellers and people who want more than just chick lit
Recommended to Shovelmonkey1 by: National geographic reading list
This is a well written book which is easy to read and for that I've awarded it three stars as it helped some long commutes to sail by fairly effortlessly and let me tell you, when your commute happens to go through Wigan (land of wind-tunnel platforms and limited shelter), this is no mean feat.

I suspect that a lot of the description and some of the experiences in the book are somewhat autobiographical with Crowther drawing on her own background and experience of a one-step-removed Iranian Cultu...more
Amber
I don't know why I keep trying to read books about Iran. They always leave me feeling frustrated and irritated. The last one I read, Reading Lolita in Tehran, did the same thing to me - although at least I felt like I was part of a graduate-level book club. It was smart, well-written and academic - even if it did leave me feeling emotionally empty and discouraged about the Middle East.

This book, The Saffron Kitchen was unconnected and abstruse - without meaning to be. The writing is mediocre, t...more
Shannon (Giraffe Days)
After a terrible accident causes Sara to lose her baby, an accident she blames her mother Maryam for, Maryam in her grief and guilt leaves England for her home country of Iran, and the village of Mazareh where she was once, as a girl, the happiest. But the past cannot be outrun, and Sara is left struggling to understand her moody mother, the things she said, and what secrets she is keeping so tightly to herself. When Maryam invites Sara to join her in Mazareh, Sara goes thinking - hoping - she'l...more
Kelly
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Carla
I'm loving this book. It's emotionally a bit intense. I keep wanting to switch the pov to the mother, right now it's first person from the daughter. Maybe I can just relate more to the mother and wish I could hear her thoughts. UPDATE: I finished the book, and really liked the story. It's a love story on so many levels, love of a man and woman, love of a mother and daughter, and the love a person has for a place and how that is tied up with the feelings for a person. I could relate to the mother...more
Layla
This book is about an Iranian woman whose traumatic experiences during childhood completely alter the course of her life and ultimately affect the family she has built in a foreign land. Crowther really understands Iran and Iranians; she gets the details - the saffron, the gold bangles, the tea from samovars - and she gets the big issues - especially the family name. For a first novel, I'm impressed.
Michelle
I liked the idea of the book more than I liked the book. But I'm still looking forward to discussing it at book club.
At times I was distracted by the differing points of view - Crowther switches from first person to third person and back again. There were some chapters where I wasn't sure who was talking - and even when I knew who was talking, it was unclear the timeframe. Was it present day or 40 yrs ago?
At the end, Maryam explains the big secret of her life and it ended up being rather anti-cl...more
Becky
I listened to this story on CD so I could knit. All the ingredients of this book are right, but the amounts could have been a bit different. I wanted to know a lot more about Ali and Dr. Ahlavi, because these characters revealed themselves to be good, interesting, and a comfort amidst all the unhappy events of the other characters. The cruel father needed more character elucidation, also, perhaps as a contrast to Maryam, both before she has to leave her family and is merely a bit wild, and after...more
Alex Nye
I am currently reading The Saffron Kitchen by Yasmin Crowther. I picked this up on Saturday in a charity shop, browsing absent-mindedly through the shelves of discarded books, so I approached it with an open mind. It was published in 2006. I haven't finished reading it yet, but I have to say I am absolutely loving it more than I have enjoyed a book for a while. And the Reason? A beautifully lyrical and poetic writing style, and a main character (the mother Maryam) that I can really identify with...more
Beverly
This is Crowther's first novel. She is the daughter of an Iranian mother and British father, just as her main character is, and she brings a lot of authenticity to the page in terms of being of two different worlds. I was especially interested to see how Crowther handled point of view in her novel. Her choices, unfortunately, don't always work. In an interview, Crowther explains her moves from first to third person as she moves among Sara (the daughter) and Maryam (the mother), but until I read...more
Lisle
This was the paperback (sorry the record doesn't match--couldn't find it) I carried to doctor appointments for the last month or so. I have that system where the heavyweight hardcovers are on the bedside table, the romances I don't wish to be seen with by the exercycle, and higher-brow paperbacks in the battered tote with the essentials for waiting and waiting and waiting...I digress. Saffron Kitchen held my attention though all the interruptions. (Why is it patients can wait an hour, but then m...more
Ines
This totally drew me in. The main characters are so easy to sympathise with, I wanted to see a solution that would make them all happy.

The story finds a family living in Britain, with family ties to Iran. The attempts of the mother to reconcile her two disparate lives, before & after leaving Iran is too difficult & so she lives in the present most of the time. But as she gets older her past keeps affecting her actions, until she is compelled to return to Iran.

I found the romantic aspects...more
Jennifer
I was very hesitant when I picked out this book, then completely fell in love with the author's ability to tell a story. Sometimes I have a hard time with novels that spend one chapter on one character and then the next chapter is on a different character. I get irritated because I end up liking one character's story better than the other. In this book, however, I found I enjoyed both characters and stories equally. Her transitions were beautiful and equally spaced and thoroughly enjoyable. I en...more
Ali
I thoroughly enjoyed this novel. Set in London and Iran, Marayam travels back to her village in Iran, in an effort to understand her past and find the man she left behind more than forty yewrs before. Her husband, Edward daughter Sara and nephew back in London are left to wonder about that life of which they know so little, and if she'll ever return.
I thought this was a lovely book, well written, poignant and quite a page turner. The descriptions of both England and Iran - written with such affe...more
Bunnychip9
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 beginni...more
Shannon
This book is almost comparable to The Kite Runner and A Thousand Splendid Suns. Yasmin Crowther doesn't quite pull you in to the story like Khaled Hosseini does but it's an excellent try and great first novel. To me, this was a story about finding out who you are, conquering your demons and being the person you were meant to be.
Alisea
In una Londra autunnale, due tragici eventi concatenati imprimono una svolta improvvisa e radicale all'esistenza di Maryam Mazar, iraniana di nascita: la morte della sorella a Teheran e la dolorosa interruzione della gravidanza della figlia Sara aprono uno squarcio nell'apparente tranquillità della sua vita e del suo matrimonio. Rinnegata in gioventù dalla famiglia d'origine per un peccato non commesso, la donna decide di tornare nella terra che è stata costretta ad abbandonare per affrontare i...more
Paula
This books explores the life and relationships of Maryam Mazar.
Maryam is at times remote and often seems unfeeling to the point of cruelty to her English husband and daughter. The book explores why she is that way, jumping back and forth from present to past. Her story ,after a brief present day introduction ,begins in a small Northeastern Iranian village, Mazareh. The book attempts explore how the culture and her family dynamics contribute to her arrested development. I liked parts of the bo...more
Roya
This book interested me and I could relate to the story from many perspectives. I am first generation half-Persian and could relate to some "first-generation" issues. I am an American expat living in a completely different culture (China), so I understand the sense of dislocation, as well as the longing for "home." However, I also long to visit Iran (currently impossible) because I have cultural roots there. While I enjoyed The Saffron Kitchen, it did not grab me and hold me like I thought it wo...more
Dorothy
I liked the story in this book far more than the realisation of it. The structure was annoying: I wish the author had decided on one or two points of view and stuck with them. Switching from first to third person and back is just lazy and it confuses the reader.

I'm not familiar with Iran but it was obvious that the writer was, and I suspect she has lived through that British/Iranian disconnect herself, so the story rang true. However I'm not sure the writing was quite up to the task of painting...more
Mary Clements
The Saffron Kitchen is definitely a very colourful book. The story is set in two different periods of times and, at some points, it can get slightly confusing. However, it shows a very pictorial view of the 'nicer' side of Iran and Iranian culture. I enjoyed reading this book because of my flare for depressing/romantic novels with happy endings... although I didn't give it a full 5 star-rating because of its "stalling" at a couple of scenes throughout the book. Nevertheless, it is an easy read a...more
Anne-Marie
What a great read! Maryam Mazar is a 50something year old Iranian woman who lives in England with Edward, her husband of 30 years and her orphaned nephew, Saeed. Edward and Maryam's daughter, Sara, lives nearby and is expecting her first baby. When Maryam hits Saeed, Sara bears the consequences and a horrified, Maryam runs away to her native home of Mazareh, Iran. Meanwhile Sara and Edward are left behind, bewildered and confused.

We are told the story from two perspectives: Sara and Maryam's and...more
Victoria
This book was interesting from the standpoint of exploring the life of an Iranian woman. With Iran being in the forefront of the news these days, it's good to go beyond politics and into stories of people, even though these are fictional people.

I found the story a little difficult to follow at the beginning since it switched back and forth between the viewpoint of the mother to the daughter, and also switched from current day to the past. The daughter in the story searches to find out about her...more
Regina Lindsey
In the village of Mazarrah Iran, the Mazar family has three distinctly different daughters, all ruled under the iron fist of their father and leader in the Shah's army.Two of the daughters bend easily to tradition and their father's will "Then there was Maryam. She was born before her time, as they say, trapped by it. She had her father's spirit, you know - good for a warrior, but not for a girl born into a world of kitchens and children." (pg 101) As the Revolution approaches and an offer of ma...more
Angie
Where "The Joy Luck Club" succeeded I think "The Saffron Kitchen" floundered. The story is about a mother daughter relationship and explores the cultural differences that can occur in a single household when one parent is an immigrant.

Maryam is from Iran. She immigrated to England and married an Englishman, Edward, and they have one daughter named Sara.

Maryam's tale is poignant, but watered down in fragmented flash backs and a disjointed narrative. The narrative jumps between first person and...more
Kathleen Hagen
The Saffron Kitchen, by Yasmin Crowther, Narrated by Mehr Mansuri and Ariana Fraval, produced by Penguin Books, downloaded from audible.com.

Maryann Mazar is Iranian, but she was forced to leave Iran because her father, one of the top generals serving under the Shah, thought she had disgraced the family. She met a gentle mild-mannered man in England and they were married. But Maryann did not feel she ever fit in. She would become very depressed, sometimes with violent consequences, and in one of...more
Jaclyn
This book takes place in Iran, a place I really don't know a lot about. And of course, from the news, a place I am not sure I care to visit. But as always, books like this show me that there is someone out there who does love it, finds beauty and good in it and calls it home. A good reminder that we live in a big, big world but are somehow all still connected. This is an interesting story about a mother and daughter's relationship and a mother's relationship with her home country and past. The m...more
Shannon Winward
I picked this book up at a corner used bookstore. I'd never heard of the novel or the author before, but I have been drawn to books by and about women in other times and cultures, and, for a foodie the promise of such a book blended with food themes was too much to pass up (though it turns out the saffron element has perhaps more to do with color and national identity than just food - though it has that, too).

Ms. Crowther really delivers on all counts. The descriptions are lovely and heady - I r...more
Julia
The Saffron Kitchen is the story of Maryam, an Iranian woman married and living in England for many years, and her final trip home. It is also the story of Sara, her grown daughter, not English but certainly not Iranian, who longs to understand her mother's desire to leave England and return to a place where by her own admission she never liked or felt free.

The language in the novel is beautiful. The story thread is a bit difficult to follow as the perspective constantly shifts between Maryam in...more
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“Maryam closed her eyes and listened as Noruz began. 'You know that every spring, crocuses grow in the courtyard outside. They come from the dirt, green shoots from nothing. One day the flowers come purple as night, the nights when we were young. And inside the petals, saffron grows the color of blood. Then they die, and the ground is dirt again where chickens shit. That's the way of things: saffron, shit, saffron, shit.' Maryam smiled at the word in Noruz's mouth. 'I was sad and Dr. Ahlavi told me this: to remember that saffron comes from the dirt.” 4 likes
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