Dear Love & Saffron,

Because my name appears twice in your pages, I can’t write a review on Good Reads or at the Other Place that will go unnamed. I can, however, use your epistolary form and write you–not a thank you note–a love letter and put it on my newly christened blog. (Right. A blog. Retro, yes?)

You gave me back my childhood in so many ways. My beach was in Alaska, not one on the shore of Puget Sound, but like Immy, I went clam-digging, slipped on kelp, and listened for storm warnings on the radio. Invisible voices told us about the Cuban Missile Crisis and Kennedy’s assassination and air travel to another state was an exotic journey that passengers dressed up for. My mother used garlic powder because fresh garlic rarely made it to our little town and saffron was a color, not a spice. Through Immy and Joan, you made all of those memories vivid again. What a gift! You actually made me feel a bit homesick for a place I was thrilled to leave.

You provided vital historical insights into the neighborhood I live in now, Seattle’s Pike Place Market. I knew it had been threatened by developers decades ago but I didn’t know that Wing Luke, for whom the Chinatown/ID museum is named, was one of its staunch defenders, nor that the Friends of the Market had been formed to combat its threatened destruction. I didn’t know that the tiny stall that sells only local women artists was formed as a cooperative in the middle of the past century. Because of you, I look at my part of the city with a greater understanding and I’ve fallen in love with Angelo Pellegrini–I need to search for his marvelous books on food. Too bad it won’t be at Shorey’s.

You’ve also given me a perspective on a city I love but never lived in. Los Angeles was a secret city back in the day when Joan fell in love with Mr. Rodriguez. Nobody knew anything about it other than Hollywood. Now I want to go back to L.A. and look for all the hidden pleasures that you describe so well–eating sweet potato pie at Mrs. Harry’s, gathering wild fennel in Topanga Canyon, watching the sun set over the Salton Sea. 

Because of you, I had two new friends to turn to during the isolation of last winter’s pandemic lockdown and Immy and Joan never failed me to take me away from my own walls. Now I’m introducing these characters to other friends, one copy at a time. Since you were written as a gift to friends, about a marvelous friendship, this is the best way I know to honor you.

Thank you for bringing warmth, love, and pure delight into my life. You’re a book that doesn’t grow threadbare when I reread you. Every time I begin turning your pages, I feel as though I’m being teleported back to a time, a place, and two enchanting women who make me laugh, bring me to tears, and give me a new insight or three, in a visit I love with all my heart.

Gratefully,

Janet Brown

PS–Love and Saffron by Kim Fay (Putnam) can be purchased at an independent bookstore near you. It’s also available as an audio book.