red saffron spice on brown wooden spoon
Love and Saffron book cover
ISBN: 978-0593419359
Published: February 7, 2023
Page Count: 224
Two strangers. One recipe. A friendship for the ages. Creamy risotto alla Milanese. Mussels in a hot, buttery broth. Chicken spiced with cinnamon and cloves. Joan Bergstrom and Imogen Fortier understand the key to a savored life—delicious food. Young Joan is just discovering herself as a food writer in bustling Los Angeles, while experienced columnist Imogen is settled in her decades-long marriage on Camano Island outside Seattle. When Joan sends a fan letter to Imogen…

Kim Fay’s book, Love & Saffron was the perfect book for my road trip to Los Angeles, California, as it’s setting takes place in Los Angeles and Camano Island outside Seattle.  As I sit in the passenger seat driving down the I-5 to LA, sunshine warming my skin through the windshield, I imagine myself holding a box of letters and reading the life stories exchanged between two close friends.  This interaction of discovery and raw expression is what makes this story such a lovely read.  Right away, I was drawn into to the character development.  The two women, Joan and Imogen, both American women of different generations, living on the Pacific Coast find commonality in their passion for food. The intimacy shared in pen and paper is a beautiful exchange that warms the heart.  As each letter brings the two strangers closer together, I can’t help but to feel the ups and downs of life, as they experience it.  Soul baring words form their bond, which all began with simple food inquisitions.

There really is nothing not to like about this novel.  This descriptive historical fiction, not only captures monumental events of the sixties, but also cultural and social customaries of that time.  Experiencing the lives of these two very different women, I was left feeling an array of emotions for their struggles and their triumphs.  I even had some tears well up at the end  when Fay gives her readers a true expression of love and friendship that can be felt right off of the pages.

This story really makes you realize that connecting with others, who may be a stranger to you today, might prove to be  your greatest human connection, tomorrow.

Of course, I cannot ignore a favorite component of this novel, which is the shared drive for food discovery.  Going back and forth from North to South and small rural life to big city, we get to share in and almost taste the foods written about.  Everything from Dungeness crab, mussels and saffron, curry, risotto, jerked chicken, and lots of Mexican (carne asada, guacamole, salsa…) recipes, too!  The examination of ingredients and the descriptive meals speaks to all food lovers and makes this novel a must read.  Even if you are not a foodie, you will enjoy this sweet story of friendship.

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