It’s been 18 months since my husband was murdered and I’ve decided to finish writing The Flavours of Love, the cookbook he started before he died. Everyone thinks I’m coping so well without him – they have no idea what I’ve been hiding or what I do away from prying eyes. But now that my 14-year-old daughter has confessed something so devastating it could destroy our family all over again, and my husband’s killer has started to write to me claiming to be innocent, I know it’s only a matter of time before the truth about me and what I’ve done is revealed to the world.
My name is Saffron Mackleroy and this is my story.
I’ve been a big fan of Dorothy Koomson for a long time now, I’m always so excited by her new books. There are certain things I’ve come to expect from her books; characters to root for, emotional plotlines that keep me glued to my seat until I’ve finished reading them, skilful use of different time periods. The Flavours of Love delivers on all three counts.
At the start of the book Saffron and her family are grieving for their dead husband and father, the opening chapter throws the reader straight into the story with the family being hit by yet another life changing bombshell before jumping back to the time when Saffron first met her husband Joel. I liked this a lot, introducing him through flashbacks so quickly meant that he felt like a vital character despite the fact that in the contemporary storyline he’s present only as a memory.
There are so many different facets to this story. It is a thriller, with Joel’s killer making increasing contact with Saffron and becoming increasingly disturbing. At the same time it’s a quiet story about grief and working out how to carry on when it’s the hardest thing to even imagine yourself doing. And then it’s about family and how your relationships change and reform after they get pulled and tested in the hardest of circumstances. Reading it, no single facet felt more than the others, they’re deftly balanced and woven around one another.
I really felt for Saffron and her children Phoebe and Zane. All of them do things that are hard to read about, the distance you have as a reader means you can see implications more easily and understand the potential ramifications of actions. I found Saffron particularly difficult to read at times, some of the things she felt and said were so familiar to me it was like looking in a mirror. This ultimately only made me feel more connected to her and more invested in what was going to happen to her – something I’ve found before with the lead characters in other books by the author (I remember in particular being amazed by how similar Ceri in The Cupid Effect was to me).
This is not a book with a neat ending tied in a pretty bow, and it’s brilliant because of this. The plot aspects that need a concrete resolution get one, and this is very satisfying. Many of the plot elements don’t require endings, they simply require progress and this again is exactly what they get. The characters are works in progress, like we all are as humans, rather than the ending being one that is neat and finished it is one that holds potential and hope for the characters – I closed the book feeling like they were all going to get there in time.
This is another excellent book by Dorothy Koomson, I’m already looking forward to the next one!
The Flavours of Love is published by Quercus Books. Whilst my copy was provided by the publisher all opinions expressed are my own.