When I picked The Flavours of Love by Dorothy Koomson by its cover, I assumed this novel would be a romance, with lots of recipes and descriptions of cake and biscuits and confectionery and other foods which I associate with love. (Sugar is obviously the way to my heart).
The Flavours of Love doesn’t isn’t a romance, but as it turned out I didn’t mind. The love the heroine has for her recently murdered husband, her children and her friends is enough to have kept me happy. There were no recipes but there were enough references to food to satisfy me.
Did you notice in the last paragraph that I referred to the heroine’s recently murdered husband? I wouldn’t be surprised if that word slipped past, hidden amongst the comfort of words describing loved ones.
Saffron Mackleroy is the mother of two children, Phoebe and Zane. Phoebe is fourteen years old and pregnant. Saffron’s husband Joel was murdered last year and the murderer, who has not yet been caught by the police, is stalking Saffron. Make no mistake, this book is a thriller.
There are two mysteries in this book. Who killed Joel and who is Phoebe pregnant to?
Saffron is an amazing woman. She has a career (not a job), and is a single mother. She is extraordinarily protective of her children and goes to enormous lengths to keep them safe. Not only that, she takes in Joel’s elderly Aunt Betty, who has been thrown out of her latest retirement homes for bad behaviour. Phoebe is an uncommunicative, resentful teenager, who has a big decision to make about her future. The whole family are grieving Joel.
Amongst all of this, Saffron is being stalked. She is receiving intimate letters from someone who may or may not be Joel’s murderer. The stalker is also damaging Saffron’s property and viciously cyber-bullying Phoebe.
On the surface, Saffron appears to be coping, but as you get deeper into the book, you realise that this is superficial only. Saffron’s methods for coping are making things even worse.
What I didn’t enjoy about this book was how ridiculous some of Saffron’s decisions were. It was a stretch of the imagination for me to believe that any mother wouldn’t be furious with her fourteen year old daughter when she learned she was pregnant, and even more of a stretch that Saffron wouldn’t make any decision’s regarding Phoebe’s future, instead leaving it up to her. Seriously, fourteen year olds need to be reminded to brush their hair and teeth, so leaving them to decide between keeping a baby, adopting out a baby and abortion is ridiculous. I also had to suspend my disbelief when I learned that Saffron hadn’t told the police particular information she had about the day of Joel’s murder.
Despite these issues, (okay, without these issues there wouldn’t have been a story), I did enjoy this book. There was a lot more going on besides the two big mysteries and the smaller characters were important to the overall story too. Saffron, Phoebe and Aunt Betty felt real and so did their grief. They had serious problems but dealt with them the best that they could.
Based on The Flavours of Love, I would happily read another book by this author. It didn’t feel particularly deep, despite the family’s horrendous situation, but it was an enjoyable read.