on 9 February 2015
This is one of the best Dorothy Koomson books yet. The story is told, partially through flashbacks, which blend seamlessly into the current ongoing events. How Saffron copes with the murder of her beloved husband and the problems with her teenage daughter Phoebe, is not revealed until quite a way through the story. The constant threat to their safety is drip fed through the book in the most chilling way. On the face of it this is a story about normal people leading normal lives but with all the undercurrents of family life, particularly in the face of tragedy. An excellent read with twists and turns, a brilliant use of language and the occasional flash of humour.
I don't know if I have ever been so torn when writing a book review. There's a part of me that absolutely loved this book but then there's also a part of me that was extremely frustrated by it and wanted to throw it against a wall.
For the first half of the book I really didn't like Saffron, the way she acted around her children and the way she let them treat her, I really wanted to give her a slap and tell her to get a backbone and start parenting. Usually when I don't like a main character I'll give up on a book but I loved the writing so much that I stuck with it. There were so many other characters that I enjoyed reading about (I adore Aunty Betty) and about half way through the book Saffron came to her senses and did an about turn, realising what a muppet she'd been and changing into the sort of person I could imagine married to her husband (the person she was in the 18 months following Joel's death is not the sort of person he'd have married).
The characters are one of the things that make Koomson's writing so special, she can draw such vivid characters that evoke really strong feelings. There was more than one person in the book that I wanted to physically attack, I'm not usually a violent person but I could imagine these people in my life and it would not have had a good outcome for any of us!
Dorothy Koomson always manages to take a story where you think you know what is happening and then throw a huge spanner in the works and twist it all on it's head. This is what I was expecting with this novel, she knows who has killed her husband and she has kept it a secret (this isn't a spoiler, we're told it very early in the book) because of a reason involving her daughter. Knowing how talented Koomson is I expected there to be something big, that I'd never have thought of which made me go "obviously, she couldn't have gone to the police with that", there wasn't, it was small and I was so annoyed because NOBODY would have let their husbands killer go free for such a BS reason.
I love Koomson's writing, if anyone else had written thisstoryline then it wouldn't have been as engaging and all the little annoyances would have been enough to make me put it down and give it a solitary star but Koomson's writing style is amazing and she still managed to suck me in.
Saffron was widowed in the most awful circumstances eighteen months before the book starts, her husband Joel was murdered and left to die by the side of the road. Saffron’s daughter Phoebe is now 14 and within pages we realise that she knows more about her father’s murder than she let onto the police, but what the secret is soon overtaken by the present when Saffron is called into the school to be told by the headmaster that Phoebe has another secret and one that needs immediate attention. With her younger son Zane and a demanding job the grieving Saffron has more than enough on her plate, but this is a study in keeping going one step at a time through whatever life throws at you.
This book is crammed full of issues which in the hands of a less accomplished author could have produced something of a mismatch of a book and far less breath-taking mainly because all of her characters are beautifully drawn displaying evidence of the author’s training in psychology. The result is real people with good and bad points far away from stereotypes as is possible, the sort of people you meet daily. The contrast between good intentions and bad decisions are illustrated many times through this delightful array of personalities, none more so than the brilliant Aunt Betty who becomes part of the household.
With the characters forming the backbone of this novel along with their issues the author also has managed to pace the book by switching times as far back to the beginning of Saffron and Joel’s relationship. Although the time periods jump about building a picture of their life this is far from confusing with the chapters clearly marking the time before or after the day of Joel’s death. Meanwhile in the present day the tension builds at a steady pace as poor Saffron has more sinister things to deal with and the battle is on to keep her family safe. Added to this there is some fledgling romance to bring a tear to the eye as Saffron comes to terms with the fact that her husband has truly gone.
The title of the book refers to the cookbook that Joel was compiling before his death and we are treated to a few of these recipes and those his wife is experimenting with in an aim to finish it in his memory giving the book a truly original feel.
There is lots to love in this book and the only slight criticism I have hinges on the original secret kept by Phoebe and unfortunately the one on which the whole book hinges, just really didn’t feel of sufficient magnitude not to come clean but the rest of the book is so wonderfully executed that I simply had to overcome my reservations and join Saffron through some dark days and nights.
I’d recommend this author to anyone who loves character driven and although this book doesn’t lend itself well to the searing dry humour of some of her previous books it is still makes an appearance from time to time.
on 2 October 2014
It was in 2010 that I last read any novels by Dorothy Koomson, I did not rate either of them very highly, probably why I still have some of her titles sitting on my bookshelves unread. Having now read ' The Flavours of Love' I need to look at them again. Yes this was better than anticipated I am glad I decided to give this author another try. After all the ones I read previously were written over ten years ago and writers do change their writing style over the years, like us all they are maturing. My introduction to her writing had been back in 2006 when I read and enjoyed My Best Friend's Girl, maybe it was a mistake to add her back catalogue to my wishlist at that time. Never mind her writing has taken a change of direction and is now classed as 'emotional thrillers' so she is back on my reading list and The Flavours of Love did not disappoint me.
The Flavours of Love deals with how the protagonist Saffron copes with becoming a widow after the murder of her husband. It is eighteen months since her husband was murdered and she has decided to finish writing a cookbook that he had been working on when he died. Through past and present we gradually learn what was and in fact still is going on in her family's life life, all is not as it seems. Both she and her daughter are keeping secrets that may well ruin their lives, but of course the truth will come out in the end. How though? That is for me to know and you to find out when you read the novel for yourself.
A psychological thriller of a tale with plenty of twists and turns to keep you thinking. Recommended to fans of this genre, although rather different from Sophie Hannah I think it may well appeal if you enjoy her novels.
on 2 June 2014
Firstly, I’d just like to mention that I think this is one of the most beautiful book covers I’ve ever seen. I feel like at the beginning, I spent more time oogling over the cover that actually reading the book! I bought this book as a present for my mum on her last birthday and I was thrilled when I picked it out of my TBR jar (even though it’s not even my book) because Dorothy is such a fantastic writer, I knew I was in for one hell of a ride and her talent just oozes through the pages. It has left me with one hell of a book hangover! The Flavours of Love follows the story of Saffron Mackleroy who’s husband was murdered 18 months ago leaving her and their two children Phoebe and Zane. Her late husband, Joel, started to write a cookbook called The Flavours of Love which she is hoping to finish – everyone thinks Saffron is coping with her loss but behind closed doors things are very different. Her life starts spiralling out of control when her daughter confesses something about the murder along with a problem of her own and her husband’s killer starts to write letters to her. Saffron will go to great lengths to protect her family but with problems of her own when will it all become too much?
When you’re introduced to Saffron at the beginning, you instantly begin to get an image and feeling of what this woman is like. Her, along with all of the characters have such depth to them that they seem like real people, telling a real story. There’s a lot of switching time frames from present to various points in the past before Joel was murdered and where sometimes that can cause a bit of a stir amongst readers, in this case it was done with such ease. The structure of the paragraphs and chapters made it so easy to read and the flash backs proved to be so important to the story. All the plot-twists and secrets are revealed so slowly which is the ideal approach to make the book impossible to put down! I was so desperate to find out anything I possibly could but Dorothy keeps you guessing until the very end. The letters in particular gave the story a exceptionally thrilling touch and even though at first they are anonymous, you get an idea of the sinister nature of the person behind them.
The emotions of the characters were described exceptionally well throughout this book, Saffron’s grief in particular stands out because you can tell she’s trying to hold it together when there’s someone out there trying to break her. It is impossible not to get emotionally involved with their stories and I actually felt nervous and panicked at one point! Although centring around Joel’s murder and the letters, the rest of the book does delve into some dark and intense situations and looking at the big picture, it really is full of everyone’s (particularly mothers) worst nightmares but at the same time, offers a lot of valuable lessons and insights. I can always tell I’m reading an incredible book by the fact that I don’t write any review notes during – I just don’t have time to think about them! I’d grown to know the characters like friends and want to protect them like family. This book completely consumed me from page 1, I didn’t want it to end.
Find all my reviews here: [...]
on 21 December 2013
I have been in love with Dorothy Koomson's books for AGES. She's one of my auto-buy authors. I just have to pre-order them automatically. I have had this book since it came out, and I've finally got around to reading it. With each book Dorothy publishes I think that it's the best yet, but I truly believe The Flavours of Love IS her best yet. (Just watch me say that with her next book too ;) )
Saffron Mackleroy's husband was murdered 18 months ago and since then Saffron has been trying to finish the cookbook Joel was working on. The Flavours of Love. Everybody thinks that Saffron is coping really well, but in reality, she's struggling. Her 14 year old daughter confesses something which rocks her family and her husband's killer is contacting Saffron, claiming she's innocent.
Like many others, I was taken in by the cover, thinking that this book would be a sweet, romantic, perhaps tragic in places read. When reading the description and getting into the story, you realise it's much deeper and darker. Something that I absolutely love from Dorothy's writing.
As usual with Dorothy's books, the novel is brilliantly written. I was gripped from the first sentence, all the way through. It's a tense read but also emotional. I really felt for our protagonist Saffron, and I was completely freaked out by Saffron's husband's killer. The letters were so creepy. Saffron as a character is easy to fall in love with. I felt for her immediately. She's been through so much and is struggling to keep her family together and do the job of two parents. I thought her children were brilliant characters as well. I felt so much compassion for them.
I don't always like when books move about in time, but Dorothy controls this brilliantly in The Flavours of Love. It flows really naturally and it's easy to understand where you are in the story. The letters really add something to the story. I was completely taken in by them. I wanted to know who Joel's killer was and whether she was going to catch up with Saffron and her family. It was an incredibly tense plot.
The book would be brilliant just with the things I've mentioned, but no, of course Dorothy Koomson has to prove what an amazing writer she is and add more depth to the story. There are so many other issues explored, yet it never feels unbelievable or like there's too much going on. There are family problems, grief and eating disorders expertly and effortlessly weaved into the plot.
I was completely engrossed and captivated by this story. I read it so quickly, wishing I didn't, because I wanted to savour every moment of it. I can't rave about this book enough. It's one of my favourite reads of 2013, for sure, and I've read a lot this year!
on 7 November 2013
The Flavours of Love is an insight into Saffron Mackleroy's life throughout one of the worst struggles to affect a parent and child, all while they are dealing with the very worst - the loss of a parent. The subjects explored are unfortunately all too real, but in my opinion, very sensitively and well handled.
The book flicks through periods of time, from the present day, back to events and points in time; prior to, during and after Joel's death, all measured in relevance to the date of his murder: ie - 6 months before That Day. There is a degree of repetition, especially about the time the detectives broke the news of Joel's death to her, but it is all related to how Saffron feels and the different aspects that she remembers, basically - it doesn't get boring.
After initially thinking that Saffron, although devastated, is coping well, holding her family and life all together, you begin to realise that cracks are definitely there, especially when she receives a phonecall from fourteen year old Phoebe's school, to go in and meet with the head who delivers some devastating and life changing news which makes Phoebe shut her mother out completely, speaking in no more than grunts and shrugs. Saffron is not on great terms with either sets of Grandparents. She and Joel's best friend, Fynn, have encountered a serious problem that jeopardises their relationship and Imogen, the only friend that Saffron has is beginning to reveal her true colours.
With relationships around Saffron crumbling rapidly she begins an uneasy friendship with Phoebe'e form teacher, Mr. Bromsgrove which she finds extremely difficult so soon after Joel's death.
The only solace Saffron finds is immersing herself in cooking. She is desperately trying to finish the cookbook Joel started before his death, she has the notion that if she finds the perfect flavours, somehow and in some way, Joel will be brought back to her.
For me, The Flavours of Love is by far my favourite novel from Dorothy Koomson (although I have loved all that I have read). As usual with Koomson's work, her writing is intelligent, thought provoking and extremely gripping. I also loved the wry humour that slipped in, especially with Joel's Aunty Betty who was ultimately (excluding Saffron) my favourite character and relationship, with her wayward ways worse than any teen. Hearing only Saffron's perspective made me form an almost instant rapport with her based on empathy of all she is dealing with and the weaknesses that are revealed.
Without giving away any spoilers (which is really hard with this!) I was completely engrossed in the storyline with Phoebe, guessing right away that things were not as they seemed. The way it played out was all too real but very well written, as was the incredible storyline with the letters from Joel's killer pleading innocence but then taking an extremely sinister turn.
I would highly recommend The Flavours of Love, a story full of intrigue, heartbreak, tension and suspense.
on 15 April 2014
A gripping book a mystery with a roller coaster of emotions turmoil and a loss of life the book reads as a flashback the day before and after saffron and her daughter Phoebe have a secret they share but what is it ?
Saffron husband Joel died 18 months ago he was murdered and since then saffron carry on with work and family life .She like to cook Joel started a cook book before her die now she going to add to it the Flavours of love she calls it .Saffron not coping with life but you think she is her daughter told he a confession about the day Joel was killed now his killer writing to her the letter are chilling hard to read they bring a lot to the book
My name is saffron mackleroy and this is my story it only a matter of time before the truth about me and what I done is revealed
The book get you hooked a lot of the book about Phoebe it shocking she 14 and pregnant but who the dad? What phoebe done?Why did Joel die? Who kill him?
Saffron a fab mum you can feel her loss she trying to hold it together but you can tell she hiding something but what?
Phoebe 14 pregnant and not sure what to do her mum not understanding her her life a mess
Aunt Betty a great character she in her mid Sixty and having fun a love able old lady she bring lightness to the story
The book very well written 4 stars read enjoy pass on
Check you my page a blog ajbookreviewclub.wordpress.com.or like my face book page Aj book review club .
on 14 June 2016
Saffron is trying to deal with the death of her husband. Things seem to be going as expected until her fourteen year old daughter Pheobe has revelations to tell.
My Thoughts: May Contain Minor Spoilers.
I read for book group many moons ago 'My Best Friends Girl' and said I would never read another book by Dorothy Koomson again. However Ms Koomsin has turned a corner with her later novels and they have a darker side to them, making them psychological thrillers.
This book for me had a lot of issues all in one story, such as eating disorders, teenage pregnancy and a murder. I felt quite dizzy at times keeping up so I can only applaud Saffron who has to deal with them all.
I quite enjoyed the book and read it very quickly as I wanted to see where the story was going. I did feel however that the ending was very quick and it almost concluded on just a few pages. The story had the build up all the way through then last few pages it was over, I also felt it was slightly unrealistic and a let down after all the build up. I also felt that all the characters had an ending that fitted in just nicely.
However I did enjoy the book and it was a read that kept me wanting more and did keep me guessing till the end.
on 25 April 2014
Certainly not as good as her other books. Just too much going on and not enough links in the story line. A teenage pregnancy, a batty aunt, a murder, a stalker, a food disorder, a cookery book, a crush on a teacher, an affair with an old friend, a mystery about the daughter, hostile in-laws etc etc. The characters, especially Saffron, were not very believable and I struggled to finish it. Loved her other books so hopefully this was just a blip.