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The Saffron Kitchen

3.49  ·  Rating Details ·  2,531 Ratings  ·  443 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 January 1st 2006)
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Shadi A kitchen that is painted the color of Saffron.

Community Reviews

(showing 1-30)
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Tea Jovanović
Lepa knjiga... dobra priča... debitantski roman... Dobar prevod... :)
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
Oct 25, 2011 Shovelmonkey1 rated it liked it  ·  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
Shannon (Giraffe Days)
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Kelly Roll
Oct 26, 2010 Kelly Roll rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: listened-to
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Feb 13, 2008 Carla rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Dec 18, 2007 Layla rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: iran
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.
Dec 04, 2008 Michelle rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: bookclub
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
May 23, 2017 Madelaine rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction, middle-east
I recently read a book that was 555 pages when it should've been 250 max, and this book was the exact opposite. The author crafted a compelling plot with characters full of depth, but she could've spent much more time in regards to detail. Though I don't typically love books that switch between past and present time, her writing oscillated both temporally and spatially in the most concise yet emotive way that had me, as the reader, feeling like I was living as Maryam and Sara. I will say, howeve ...more
Alex Nye
Jun 12, 2012 Alex Nye rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Aug 30, 2008 Beverly rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Sep 04, 2008 Becky rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: audio, middle-east
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
May 09, 2008 Lisle rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Aug 14, 2009 Ines rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
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
Aug 27, 2009 Jennifer rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Sana Jivani
Jan 11, 2015 Sana Jivani rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I thought this book was a really good read. Not un-put-downable, but very good all the same. The book started off a little slow, but I found myself drawn into the characters and the cultures in just a few pages.

I always enjoy reading about different cultures and the potrayal of Iran and its cultures was done just perfectly in this book. The author certainly has a gift at conveying emotion of the characters, especially Maryam (the main character) and as a reader, you really do feel the sense of y
Jan 25, 2009 Ali rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Jan 31, 2017 Karin rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
When a stressful situation with Maryam's nephew drives her to leave London for her home country of Iran, her adult daughter struggles to understand why. There are some nice mother/daughter scenes in this book, but the flashback to Maryam's life before moving to London left me feeling unfulfilled. Ultimately Maryam felt like an incomplete character to me, which is why this book only gets three stars.
Jun 15, 2009 Shannon rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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.
Jan 04, 2009 Bettie☯ rated it did not like it
Recommended to Bettie☯ by: pressie from dear M
Shelves: room-101
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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.
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Jan 25, 2017 Shadi rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
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Mar 25, 2017 Nicky rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
The only thing I liked about this story was the relationship between Sara and Julian.
I wanted to feel bad for Maryam but I felt more bad for Edward.
The perspectives can get confusing, especially when it goes from first-person to third, then back to first, but I liked the concept of the story as well as some of the descriptive imagery.

2.5/5 it was okay
Another great book for our book club. I enjoyed the story of Maryam and her family. I loved the way the story was told. I want to read it again just to find things that I missed the first time around.
Deedee Mcintyre
Jun 19, 2017 Deedee Mcintyre rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
very moving and timely
Jan 18, 2008 Tory rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I have been fascinated with all things Persian as of late. I like the idea of getting a glimpse, even if fictional, into a place that has only connotation of oppression and terrorism from the media. I liked the aspect of this book showing the Iranian people as beautiful and complicated, just as people are all over the world.

It’s the story of a woman, who after living a life filled with secrets and a loss of self, looks for the freedom she once so desperately sought. Rage, induced by a collision
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
Nov 05, 2013 Susan rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
My step daughter lent this to me and she bought it as she loved Khaled Hosseini's 'Thousand Splendid Suns' . She hadn't read it but as I handed her a couple of books she said I could read it first as she is a slower reader.

I have read a number of books based in Iran but in my opinion this is one of the better ones.

Basically it is Maryam Mazar's story. She was born in Iran to a strict and quite high up in the social ranking family. She was one of three daughters. She was the only one to attempt t
Jan 17, 2015 S rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Since I spend a lot of time driving, my favorite thing to do is to listen to audiobooks and I did with this book. There are two narrators in this book, the first one being the Iranian mother which was read by an Iranian woman who is is British educated and it was read very well. The second narrator is the daughter in the book who is born to an Iranian mother and an English father and I found her very stuffy British voice to be a bit irritating, since the way she said certain words as basic as Fa ...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.” 6 likes
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