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The Saffron Kitchen: A Novel | [Yasmin Crowther]

The Saffron Kitchen: A Novel

In this powerful debut, Yasmin Crowther paints a stirring portrait of a family shaken by events from decades ago and a world away. On a blustery day in London, the dark secrets and troubled past of Maryann Mazar surface violently, with tragic consequences for her daughter, Sara, and her newly orphaned nephew, Saeed. Consumed with guilt, Maryann leaves her suburban home and mild English husband to return to Mazareh, the remote village on Iran's northeast border where her own story began.
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Publisher's Summary

In this powerful debut, Yasmin Crowther paints a stirring portrait of a family shaken by events from decades ago and a world away. On a blustery day in London, the dark secrets and troubled past of Maryann Mazar surface violently, with tragic consequences for her daughter, Sara, and her newly orphaned nephew, Saeed. Consumed with guilt, Maryann leaves her suburban home and mild English husband to return to Mazareh, the remote village on Iran's northeast border where her own story began. There she must face her past and the memories of a life she was forced to leave behind when she was young, headstrong, and beautiful.

Back in England, Sara tries to understand what could have compelled her mother to leave. Together with Saeed and her distraught father, she begins to unearth Maryann's story from amid her memories of opium poppies, family lore, and fragments of conversation, photographs, and a few lines of poetry. In her quest to piece her life back together, Sara follows her mother to Iran to discover the roots of her unhappiness and to try and bring her home.

A rich and haunting narrative, The Saffron Kitchen tells of betrayal and retribution, of secrets that can lie undisturbed for decades, of the pain of exile, and the bittersweet joy of homecoming.

©2006 Yasmin Crowther; (P)2006 Penguin Audio, a member of Penguin Group (USA) Inc. All rights reserved.

What the Critics Say

"Absorbing family drama...an unusual and satisfying read." (The Guardian)
"The Saffron Kitchen marks Yasmin Crowther out as a novelist of exceptional honesty and grace." (Daily Telegraph)
"Crowther's debut is spellbinding, and her cross-cultural perception and empathy are illuminating and affecting." (Booklist)

What Members Say

Average Customer Rating

3.9 (131 )
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3.7 (35 )
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4.0 (33 )
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Performance
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  •  
    Kathryn Tazewell, VA, United States 11-30-07
    Kathryn Tazewell, VA, United States 11-30-07

    I've been an avid, constant reader since I learned to read at age 5. I ALWAYS have a book going while quilting, cross-stitching, or painting

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    "Truly Rich and Haunting"

    This audiobook has two excellent narrators, which beautifully reflected the thoughts and experiences of the mother and daughter of the story. I was transported to the dusty, tiny village in Iran through the descriptive and skilled writing of the author, as well as the streets of London. This was a very good story, and indeed it was haunting as well as compelling. I love how the story unfolded, as we learned more and more about Maryann’s past. I grieved with Sara as she tried to heal from her personal tragedy, and then enjoyed seeing Iran through her eyes. My heart broke for her father as he tried to cope with life as it was left to him. I highly recommend this book!

    5 of 5 people found this review helpful
  •  
    J. Tiefel Thousand Oaks, CA USA 07-01-08
    J. Tiefel Thousand Oaks, CA USA 07-01-08 Member Since 2006
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    "Entertaining and Educational"

    This book takes place in England and Iran--the latter of which was totally foreign to me. I appreciated the separate reading voices--both the young British daughter and the heavy accent of her Iranian-born mother. The touch of brief interludes of appropriate music helped to transition the reader from one country and person to the other. I loved getting acquainted with the various customs and people in a land so far away.

    4 of 4 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Bob Takoma Park, MD, United States 03-03-08
    Bob Takoma Park, MD, United States 03-03-08 Member Since 2005
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    "Affecting at the core"

    This story is a prime example of the gap between the pleasures of listening to, as opposed to reading, a story. In this case the prose is elegant and the story is true and poignant. It is affecting on many levels. But in listening to the story, it only came alive in a riveting sense at roughly the midpoint, when we are with Mariyam as a young woman in troubled times on 1950s Iran and the life-changing events of one terrible day. Much of the rest, though at times lovely and convincing, unfolded too slowly. Heavy on the texturing and the weaving, too light on engaging conflict and narrative movement.
    This said, the story has cast an aura that has stayed with me, one relevant in these troubled times of alienation between the Middle East and the West. My rating is dampened by what I found as shortcomings as a narrated book (despite the excellent narration), rather than as a work of fiction.

    4 of 4 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Jessica York, PA, USA 03-24-08
    Jessica York, PA, USA 03-24-08
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    "Love this book"

    I have never listened to this author but I really enjoyed her writing style. I felt like I was transported to a beautiful place and time. Very deep book.

    The narrators were also excellent :-)

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Cariola Chambersburg, PA USA 01-02-12
    Cariola Chambersburg, PA USA 01-02-12 Member Since 2005

    malfi

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    "Generational Conflict"

    The book opens on a sad and striking note, an accident that causes Sara to lose her unborn baby. We soon learn her Iranian mother is to blame: in a London cafe, she struck out in unexpected anger at her young nephew, the boy ran into the street, and, in pulling him to safety, Sara was kicked and fell to the ground. The accident provokes her mother, Maryam, to reflect on events in her past and to leave for Iran, date of return unknown.

    Crowther moves smoothly between two voices (mother and daughter), two places (London and Iran), and past and present as the women try to understand each other and the forces and persons that have shaped their lives. If you enjoy novels about culture and generational clashes, put this one on your list.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
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