Book Review of Kim Fay's LOVE & SAFFRON
Updated: Apr 1, 2022
by Sara Voigt (@meaningfulmadness)
Kim Fay's Love & Saffron: A Novel of Friendship, Food, and Love (Bookshop.org | Libro.fm)
Welp. I think I am on a food book kick. Last week I brought you Stanley Tucci’s nonfiction memoir, Taste: My Life Through Food. This week I am bringing you Kim Fay’s fiction delight Love & Saffron: A Novel of Friendship, Food, and Love. Ya’ll, I could not put this book down. I loved it oh, so much. This is a slim (200 pages, but it is a small book!) largely epistolary novel chronicling the friendship between two women, Joan, a 27-year-old food aficionado living in Los Angeles and Imogen, an older woman in her 60s living in Washington State, in the early 1960s.
I loved the way these two women connected over food and forged a beautiful friendship. They are living through some historic moments, and the way these events affect the women is recorded in the letters that they send each other. They are both devastated by the assassination of President Kennedy. Both are interested in the feminist movement and the plight of women in the world. Other events touched on are The Civil Rights Movement, The Cold War, PTSD after returning from the Great War and several others. I love the backdrop of the history, but the focus on how it affects these two particular women.
Oh and the food. Oh, the food! Since Joan is a foodie, she opens Imogen’s (and her husband’s) horizons to new flavors and types of food. I particularly adore the part about Imogen’s husband, Francis and how Joan influences him in the kitchen.
"For steamed mussels, in a stockpot add a generous pinch of saffron, coarsely chopped garlic, and parsley to a half cup of melted butter. The red enamel pot you mentioned in your column about racing Dungeness crabs, the one with the pockmark from your niece's Red Ryder BB gun, will do perfectly. If you can't find fresh garlic, shallots can be substituted, but in my opinion, without fresh garlic the dish isn't worth making. The Frenchwoman told me the addition of a cup or so of white wine is considered standard for this broth, but she prefers vermouth. I agree with her. It gives the dish a crisp, botanical flavor, and I can save my Chablis for drinking with my meal.”
This is a book about friendship, love, and the power of food to connect us. I think you will love it, even if food and cooking is not your thing. Do know this–I shed some tears while reading this book, so if you are averse to that at the present, you might not want to dive in. But I unabashedly loved this novel. I hope you will give it a shot. (Also, just a side note--the audio is fantastic for this book. I highly recommend it!)
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