Love & Saffron: A Novel of Friendship, Food, and Love (Hardcover)
February 2022 Indie Next List
“Love & Saffron reminds us of the beauty of letter writing. I loved the simplicity of this book — it filled my heart with love and connection to the human spirit, and left me with the desire to kindle a friendship by sending a letter.”
— Annette Avery, Bright Side Bookshop, Flagstaff, AZ
The Instant National Bestseller and #1 Indie Next Pick
In the vein of the classic 84, Charing Cross Road, this witty and tender novel follows two women in 1960s America as they discover that food really does connect us all, and that friendship and laughter are the best medicine.
When twenty-seven-year-old Joan Bergstrom sends a fan letter--as well as a gift of saffron--to fifty-nine-year-old Imogen Fortier, a life-changing friendship begins. Joan lives in Los Angeles and is just starting out as a writer for the newspaper food pages. Imogen lives on Camano Island outside Seattle, writing a monthly column for a Pacific Northwest magazine, and while she can hunt elk and dig for clams, she’s never tasted fresh garlic--exotic fare in the Northwest of the sixties. As the two women commune through their letters, they build a closeness that sustains them through the Cuban Missile Crisis, the assassination of President Kennedy, and the unexpected in their own lives.
Food and a good life—they can’t be separated. It is a discovery the women share, not only with each other, but with the men in their lives. Because of her correspondence with Joan, Imogen’s decades-long marriage blossoms into something new and exciting, and in turn, Joan learns that true love does not always come in the form we expect it to. Into this beautiful, intimate world comes the ultimate test of Joan and Imogen’s friendship—a test that summons their unconditional trust in each other.
A brief respite from our chaotic world, Love & Saffron is a gem of a novel, a reminder that food and friendship are the antidote to most any heartache, and that human connection will always be worth creating.
About the Author
Born in Seattle and raised throughout the Pacific Northwest, Kim Fay lived in Vietnam for four years and still travels to Southeast Asia frequently. A former bookseller, she is the author of Communion: A Culinary Journey Through Vietnam, winner of the World Gourmand Cookbook Awards’ Best Asian Cuisine Book in the United States, and The Map of Lost Memories, an Edgar Award finalist for Best First Novel. She is also the creator/editor of a series of guidebooks on Southeast Asia. Fay now lives in Los Angeles.
Advance Praise for Love & Saffron
“Part historical fiction, part friendship saga, and part carnival for the senses, Love & Saffron isn't just for food lovers—it's an ode to risk-takers, trailblazers, and the chefs in all of us. With lush descriptions of food and a resonant historical setting, Love & Saffron is a sweet, savory, and emotional pleasure. It's like a dinner with friends you won't want to end." —J. Ryan Stradal, author of Kitchens of the Great Midwest
“Impossible to put down… By the end, I was shedding tears along with the characters, and felt as if I’d made two friends. This is an irresistible story of two women from a lost time, both determined to make the best of things." —The Seattle Times
“Delicious food, wonderful characters, and adventures abound in this delightful story that simmers with affection.” —Christian Science Monitor
“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…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.” —Booklist
“Fay's touch is deft...The story leaves the reader wanting more-more recipes, more letters, more time in the gentle, unfolding friendship of these two women. A glimpse into a friendship that doesn't hesitate to touch on joy, sadness, love, and death." —Kirkus Reviews
“Unutterably delightful…In this sweet, slender novel, Fay uses vibrant food descriptions to connect her two main characters and to assist them in coping with the dire news of an alarming era…Perfect for those burned out by current news cycles, Love & Saffron is a gentle escape to the past, and also a reminder both that others have survived ‘unprecedented times,’ and that deep connections can be made even when people are physically separated.” —Shelf Awareness
“This gentle story about female friendship is sure to be a hit with foodies and fans of early 1960s America.” —Historical Novels Review
“In Kim Fay’s charming novel two women in 1960s Los Angeles and Washington state become the best of friends long before they meet in person. Together, they navigate relationships, ambition, societal expectations, and the arts of making and writing about food. Warm, delicious, and absolutely satisfying—I devoured in one enthusiastic gulp!”—Meg Waite Clayton, author of The Last Train to London and The Postmistress of Paris
"In an age when we're barraged with Twitter blow-ups, pandemic deaths, and political discourse of the most uncivil kind, Love & Saffron is as refreshing as watching the sunset over the Pacific Ocean, with a glass of Sauvignon Blanc and a bowl of garlicky clams at your elbow. Kim Fay convincingly recreates a charming and civil world, and a touching friendship, in a period piece that will restore you to your kinder, gentler self.” —Richard C. Morais, author of The Hundred Foot Journey
“In the footsteps of Laurie Colwin and Ruth Reichl, Love & Saffron is a beautiful, gentle, intimate exploration of food and friendship, as well as life, loss, and love.”— Susan Elia MacNeal, author of Mr. Churchill’s Secretary, a Maggie Hope novel
“A deliciously memorable and lovely story of friendship, food and the enduring connections we form through the lost art of letter writing.” —Tembi Locke, author of From Scratch: A Memoir of Love, Sicily, and Finding Home
“The beautifully written Love & Saffron is a delightful recipe of food, friendship, love, and acceptance. Utterly captivating from the first page to the last, Kim Fay has penned a touching, satisfying novel that readers will surely savor for a long time to come. This story will fill your heart, lift your spirit, and feed your soul. I truly didn’t want it to end.”—Heather Webber, author of Midnight at the Blackbird Café
“Love & Saffron is simply a delight. In letters between two women—strangers, at first, but ultimately best friends—in 1963, Kim Fay reveals how a love of food can open doors into culture, history, homes, and love. Indulge yourself in the world of Joan and Immy, preferably with some quesadillas or mussels in wine and saffron by your side.” —Ann Hood, author of The Knitting Circle
“Love & Saffron is a story about the joys of being alive—the delight found in discovery, the comfort of a good meal, and most of all, the richness of true friendship. It is a story about connection—to place, to food, and to each other. I read Love and Saffron in one delicious afternoon. It’s the kind of story you get lost in, one that breaks you open, fills your heart, and reminds you of what is important in life. A genuine pleasure. You’ll want to share it with everyone you call friend.” —Louise Miller, author of The City Baker’s Guide to Country Living
“Astonishing, exhilarating, existential! Love & Saffron explodes forever the arbitrary separation of fiction from fact. I inhaled this book in one delectably deep breath, uncovering layer after layer of the aromas, flavors, tastes on lips and tongue of my own life as a young American housewife in the 1960s. Author Fay conveys the texture of daily life as a mystery story that discovers food is a cultural creation and connector as powerful as story-telling itself to erase the separation of past from present and memory from now. This is a book for Every Man and Woman. READ IT NOW!” —Betty Fussell, author of The Story of Corn, My Kitchen Wars, and Eat, Live, Love, Die
“[A] sweet story…[and] comforting.” —Book Riot
“Fay’s brilliant novel explores the magic of food and how one letter with a special ingredient can forge the unlikeliest of friendships—awakening the taste buds of life, meaningful friendships, and love along the way. Á table! Savor this story one delicious and heartwarming page at a time.” —Samantha Vérant, author of The Secret French Recipes of Sophie Valroux and Sophie Valroux’s Paris Stars
“Love & Saffron is a gift, a poignant and moving gift, to food and to friendship. This book transports us back to the lives and kitchens of two women from different generations and different places in the Sixties. Through the exchange of letters, confidences, recipes and, yes, saffron, a deep relationship evolves for both the characters and readers. Imagine taking a stroll through a critical time in American cuisine through the eyes and palates of two great friends. I loved this lovely book. Pour yourself a glass of Chablis and drink in Love & Saffron.”—Lian Dolan, author of The Sweeney Sisters and Helen of Pasadena
“I loved this spare, suspenseful, and achingly beautiful novel about an unexpected friendship between two women in the mid-1960s. Composed entirely of letters, their exchange starts with the gift of a recipe and then very quickly builds toward an eye-opening and life-changing questioning of everything.” —Phyllis Grant, author of Everything Is Under Control: A Memoir with Recipes
“Love & Saffron is an elixir for our times. It speaks to the power of food to communicate friendship and stoke a curiosity about worlds unlike our own. After you read this book, you’ll want to drop a letter in the mail to someone you love.” --Naomi Hirahara, author of Clark and Division