The Flavours of Love
‘I’m looking for that perfect blend of flavours; the taste that used to be you. If I find it, I know you’ll come back to me.’
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.
The Flavours of Love is an insight into Saffron Mackleroy’s life throughout one of the worst struggles to affect a parent and child, while her daughter is 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 prior to, during and after the death of Saffron’s husband, Joel. The past is 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 – 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 14-year-old Phoebe’s school, inviting her to go in and meet with the Head. She receives 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 set 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’s form teacher, Mr. Bromsgrove, which she finds extremely difficult so soon after Joel’s death.
She also begins to receive letters from Joel’s killer pleading innocence, but they soon start to take an extremely sinister turn…
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. I would highly recommend The Flavours of Love, a story full of intrigue, heartbreak, tension and suspense.
Many thanks to Sophie at edpr for sending me this book in exchange for an honest review.