My latest fiction read was the delightful novel Love & Saffron: A Novel of Friendship, Food, and Love by Kim Fay.
It wasn’t the food element that drew me in. I was intrigued by the setting — Los Angeles and Washington State in the 1960s.
I picked up this book because it is a story of female friendship. And most importantly, I picked up this book because it is a story told through letters.
(Many of you may not know, but I have a pen pal who lives in Japan. We have been writing since 1993! While we do occasionally send an email, most of our communication happens through hand-written letters. Under my bedside table, I have a box where I keep all her letters.)
Here are just a few snippets from the novel to share with you:
“Los Angeles is such a varied place. There are foods from dozens of countries at our Grand Central Market alone, and there is a different country in every corner of the city. At the risk of sounding like a shill for the tourism board, Armenia, Italy, Poland, Portugal, India, Greece, you name it and you will certainly find it here.” (This passage was taken from a letter dated September 30, 1963, but I think it is just as true for 2022.)
“Personally, I don’t enjoy the phone. It feels impersonal to me, which might sound strange since a voice in one’s ear is a cozy thing. But when I’m on the line, I can mend or play Solitaire, while with a letter I must pay close attention. There is unequaled satisfaction in composing words on a blank page, sealing them in an envelope, writing an address in my own messy hand, adding a stamp, walking it to the mailbox, and raising the flag. It’s like preparing a gift, and I feel like I receive one when a letter arrives — yours most of all.”
“I will treasure our midnight conversations, especially about our hidden selves. To think we are made up of so many different layers, and we may never meet all of them before the big sleep. I have been thinking about your comment, about how when we are very young we are so sure of who we are. I admit, there have been times when I longed to be fifteen again, confident that I knew absolutely everything about myself. But I prefer the viewpoint you have been pondering since Francis’s encounter with the saffron. The less we cement ourselves to our certainties, the fuller our lives can be.”