Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Can you ever go back?

The Saffron Kitchen
by Yasmin Crowther

We meet Maryam, a transplanted Iranian, as a middle-aged woman married to an Englishman and living in London. From the very beginning we know that Maryam has secrets and sadness in her past that permeate her life. When a crisis occurs involving her daughter, Sara, Maryam flees back to Iran to resolve what has haunted her all her life, leaving her family who need her and do not understand.

Yasmin Crowther is a wonderful writer who makes us feel Maryam’s predicament and pain. Both story lines, one in London involving her husband and daughter and the other in Iran, are equally interesting and involving. There has been criticism that the transition between the two locales is jarring, but I did not experience that. There is much to think about and this would make a good choice for a book discussion.

A voyage of self-discovery

The Wife's Tale by Lori Lansens

After having read Lansens’ prior book The Girls, which I thought was wonderful, I greatly looked forward to her latest.
After having read The Wife’s Tale, I have mixed feelings. The writing is masterly, and the imagery Lansens creates does not disappoint. Mary Gooch, a 302 pound woman, has let her weight define her and her marriage. When her husband, Jimmy, does not return from work and goes missing, Mary goes on a quest from her home in Canada to Jimmy’s mother's house in Los Angeles to find him. There she meets many people who help her and she discovers herself in the process.
My problem with the book is the unbelievability of some of Mary’s experiences and the ending which left me hanging after I greatly anticipated the way Lansens would resolve her heroine's quest. Having said all that, Lansens is still a talented writer who maintains your interest thoughout the book. For readers who like their plots not tied up neatly, I would definitely recommend this book.