Love & Saffron
a novel of friendship, food, and love
by Kim Fay
This title was previously available on NetGalley and is now archived.
Pub Date 8 Feb 2022 | Archive Date 8 Feb 2022
John Murray Press, Two Roads
I wanted to go on reading it forever' - Nigella Lawson
'Like a dinner with friends you won't want to end' - J. Ryan Stradal, author of Kitchens of the Great Midwest
'Warm, delicious, and absolutely satisfying-I devoured in one enthusiastic gulp!' - Meg Waite Clayton, New York Times bestselling author of The Last Train to London
When twenty-seven-year-old Joan Bergstrom sends a fan letter - as well as a gift of saffron - to fifty-nine-year-old Imogen Fortier, a life-changing friendship begins. Joan lives in Los Angeles and is just starting out as a writer for the newspaper food pages. Imogen lives on Camano Island outside Seattle, writing a monthly column for a Pacific Northwest magazine, and while she can hunt elk and dig for clams, she's never tasted fresh garlic - exotic fare in the Northwest US of the 1960s. As the two women commune through their letters, they build a closeness that sustains them through the unexpected changes in their own lives.
Food and a good life - they can't be separated. It is a discovery the women share not only with each other, but with the men in their lives. Because of her correspondence with Joan, Imogen's decades-long marriage blossoms into something new and exciting, and in turn, Joan learns that true love does not always come in the form we expect it to.
Into this beautiful, intimate world comes the ultimate test of Joan and Imogen's friendship - a test that summons their unconditional trust in one another.
'A genuine pleasure. You'll want to share it with everyone you call friend' - Louise Miller
Available on NetGalley
Average rating from 12 members
In the early 1960s America, Joan Bergstrom, a food-loving, 27-year-old staff writer in LA, pens a fan letter to Imogen Fortier, the author of her favourite magazine column. Joan encloses a gift of saffron and, despite their 30-year age gap, their distance (Imogen lives in Washington) and their very different life paths, they strike up a deep friendship spanning a number of letters, years, life events, world events, cultures and cuisines.
I loved this reading experience, completing the book in one sitting. I laughed, I cried and I felt nostalgic for a time and place I've never known.
Without explicitly intending to, this wonderful story explored a number of complex themes, authentically for its time period, but that have enormous relevance today.
For example, Love & Saffron carries its own flavour of quiet, sturdy feminism right from page 1. The characters' many unconventional-for-the-21st century takes are a welcome reminder, that in our time of "this way or no way", feminism should always be first and foremost about choice.
All of the characters are woven together through exploration and celebration of food. But the two main characters don't storm about imposing themselves and breaking cultural boundaries.
Rather, they are curious about them. They peek over the parapet, quenching their fascination with studious enquiry. They walk through the doors opened to them with deep gratitude and, finally, meld with the boundaries to create wonderful new connections.
As a mixed-race woman, I found this book to be a gentle invitation to treat the enquiries of others with care and nurture. To take the curiosity and roll it around on the tongue, tasting its flavour before deciding to close my mind to it immediately, or else I risk allowing world-weariness to harden my heart and lose potentially beautiful new friendships.
Everyone generally comes from a place of good. People discover the real stories of others when they are permitted to meet them where they are. Love and Saffron's message is clear: we should take more loving chances on one another.
Nothing says it better than my favourite quote: "The less we cement ourselves to our certainties, the fuller our lives can be."
Many thanks to NetGalley, Kim Fay and the publisher for the opportunity to review an ARC.
A charming and unusual book. So evocative of the 60's, and Proustian in its descriptions. Never said that in a review, before and no I don't mean long winded rather that sharp sense of description that provokes a jolt of recognition in the reader. Absolutely loved it.