Monday, January 17, 2022

Love & Saffron by Kim Fay, an epistolary novel of food and women's friendship in 1960s America

Fiction and culinary travel writer Fay (The Map of Lost Memories, 2012) has crafted a delectable second novel showing how food can bring people together, even across distances and cultures.

In October 1962, Joan Bergstrom, an unmarried 27-year-old from L.A., sends an admiring fan letter to Mrs. Imogen Fortier, author of a magazine column on Pacific Northwest island life. To thank her, Joan shares a favorite mussels recipe and encloses a saffron packet.

The story is mostly told via the women’s warm-hearted correspondence. They become close while exchanging thoughts on food, their personal lives, and contemporary society.

Their connection nurtures them during tough times and draws in others as well. Imogen’s WWI-veteran husband, Francis, impresses her with his newfound interest in French cooking, while Joan’s friendship with her neighbors’ Mexican carpenter, begun over a shared meal, develops into something more.

Fay’s emotionally generous novel demonstrates how people’s worlds can expand when they open themselves to new possibilities. Readers will be touched by this enriching tale and inspired to embark on their own international culinary adventures.

Love & Saffron will be published by Putnam (US) on February 8th; I reviewed it for the Nov. 1, 2021 issue of Booklist.  The novel is 192pp long, and you can read it in an afternoon (which I did).  There are many scrumptious-sounding dishes described within, so prepare to start googling for recipes. 

This novel is very different in style and tone from her first novel, a quest-adventure set in 1920s Shanghai and Cambodia, and which I'd also reviewed back in 2012. I'd also interviewed Kim Fay about The Map of Lost Memories, and she spoke then about her interest in food and cooking.


  1. This sounds really interesting! I will be looking for it next month.

    1. Hope you'll like it as much as I did!

  2. A new author and book (s) for me. Thanks for the post.

  3. Anonymous8:08 PM

    This Novel seem interesting and relating.