by Sukey HowardMarch 2007
In our problem-plagued world where people are so easily uprooted, the meaning of home, exile and identity often take center stage. Yasmin Crowther's debut novel, The Saffron Kitchen, weaves these issues into a haunting love story that begins in Iran as the Shah came to power, moves to England and then back to Iran 50 years later. Banished from her elegant Persian family by her autocratic father for a suspected infraction, Maryam made a life for herself in London, married a gentle Englishman, had a daughter, but never felt at ease or at home and never forgot her first love, Ali. When a tragic accident wrenches mother and daughter apart, Maryam returns to Iran and, perhaps, to Ali. Sara, her grown daughter, follows her, hoping to understand her mother's anger and anguish, her history and roots, and hoping their soured relationship can be made sweet again. Maryam and Sara speak in very different voices, wonderfully realized here by Mehr Mansuri and Ariana Fraval, letting you into their separate yet intertwined lives, into the cultural differences that mother and daughter can't overcome. Endings, happy or otherwise, are left for you to ponder.