Kelly's Reviews > The Saffron Kitchen

The Saffron Kitchen by Yasmin Crowther
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Oct 26, 10

bookshelves: listened-to

** spoiler alert ** I listened to this as an audio book. The two narrators were quite good. The story is basically Maryam's, an Iranian woman who came to live in London when she was a young woman. As the story opens her daughter Sara is pregnant and Maryam's young nephew has just arrived to live with his aunt. Sara loses her baby as an indirect result of Maryam bullying her nephew Said. Maryam then abruptly departs the country and returns to Iran.

The story has three narratives; Maryam as a young woman living in Iran; her story after she returns to Iran; and Sara's story as she attempts to unravel her mother's actions.


Her story as a young woman is the most interesting and paints the most vivid picture. Once the story moves into the present I found Maryam to be an unlikeable person and rather flat. I would have liked to have known her as an adult but we never get a clear picture of her other than the fact that she is unhappy. We don't know why she came to England, what she did before or after she married, or why she married a man she didn't love.

Some of the scenes the author sets up to push forward the scene make no sense to me either. Why was Said sent to England when his father was still living and he had other relatives in Iran? I believe it was simply so his actions would act as catalyst for Maryam to leave the country. I also found it hard to believe that Maryam would leave the country immediately after her daughter miscarries.

I have so many other questions as well, would Ali never really marry, why does he not attempt to contact her after she leaves for nurses training? Maryam's mother is another enigma. I suspect we were to draw parallels between her and Maryam but we know so little about her yet she could have been interesting. Why did she marry Maryam's father, where is she from originally that she speaks Russian?

Would Maryam really be able to so easily readapt to living in Iran after 30 years away, surely England would have changed her in some way? I wish the author had written scenes not merely to make things happen but rather to add depth to her characters. Overall i'd say an interesting but flawed attempt.
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