The bonds between parent and child, past and preset are explored in Yasmin Crowther’s The Saffron Kitchen, the debut novel of the Anglo-Iranian author.
The story is told through the eyes of Sara and her mother Maryam, whose relationship is threatened after a violent outburst causes pregnant Sara to lose her baby. She retreats to her home, taking comfort in her husband and taking charge of her orphaned cousin Saeed, and maintains a connection with her mother and her heritage through a project to paint her kitchen.
Maryam flees to the Iranian village she left as a child, after a violent break with her father and family. Only by reconnecting to the past can she mend – or reconsider – the relationships of her present. We’re introduced to her first love, Ali, in flashbacks, while her husband, Edward, and daughter are left to piece together a part of her mysterious past through photos and poetry she left behind.
The Saffron Kitchen is lyrically written, only slightly marred by the occasional jarring transition between the present day and flashback narratives. While Sara and Maryam are our guides through this emotional story of catharsis, the other characters are given just enough personality to add depth and flavour to the story of coming to terms with the past in order to live fully in the present.