23 August 2015

Review #303: The Saffron Trail by Rosanna Ley

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

“A mother is the truest friend we have, when trials heavy and sudden fall upon us; when adversity takes the place of prosperity; when friends desert us; when trouble thickens around us, still will she cling to us, and endeavor by her kind precepts and counsels to dissipate the clouds of darkness, and cause peace to return to our hearts.” 

----Washington Irving

Rosanna Ley, an English author, pens her latest contemporary fiction, The Saffron Trail that tells the story of a daughter's search for her mother's past in a land of magic and saffron away from the humdrum of a big city in a place which itself has it's own mysteries to tell through it's history. It is also the story of a niece to find for her Aunt's lost son in a land of mystery.


Once, there was a girl who loved saffron. She loved its secrets, its mystery, and best of all, she loved its hint of magic.

After the death of her beloved mother, Nell travels from rural Cornwall to the colour and chaos of Marrakech. Her marriage may be on the rocks, but exploring the heady delights of Moroccan cuisine could help her fulfil her dream of opening her own restaurant.

It's there she meets Amy - a young photographer trying to unravel the story behind her family's involvement in the Vietnam War. The two women develop a close friendship and discover a surprising connection between their own pasts.

This connection will take Nell and Amy on a journey to find their own 'saffron trail' - from the labyrinthine medina and bustle of Moroccan bazaars all the way back home to Cornwall and to the heart of their families' origins.

Nell visits to her mother's past in Morocco after her mother's sudden death, since after her death, Nell realized that her mother kept her own past, especially the identity of Nell's father from her and only to unravel her mother's past as well as with regards from her husband as a birthday present, Nell travels to Morocco. So despite of the almost broken marriage, she is determined to find out who her mother was, and why she kept her past hidden away from her. Amy is a photographer who is in a bad relationship and she too has lots of family history to unravel especially of the estranged aunt's who once had a life during the Vietnam War and in someway had an involvement in the war. So to unravel her aunt's past and her family's hidden mystery, Amy travels to Morocco, where she meets Nell. Together they explore the Saffron farms, the mysteries of Morocco, it's local cuisine, language, culture etc, only to find a connection between both the family histories.

This is the second book that I'm reading of Rosanna Ley. Her previous book, Return to Mandalay was equally enriching and soul touching. Ley has a way to write stories which can touch the hearts of the readers so deeply, mainly because she writes them with so much compassion. Her writing style is flawless and exquisite wit an evocative prose. The story has so much depth that it has enough power to hold anyone till the very last page. Her stories are always comprised of so many layers- like stories within stories. In this book too, each character had their won story to narrate that finally connects them all when they meet at the crossroads. The story flows like a river, never too slow never too fast, only at it's own pace like a rhythm.

Rosanna Ley has a talent to find and evolve stories in beautiful places and cities of the world, so together with the beauty of a particular place, the author spins a story which has the city's flair and the author's own emotions. She once again captured yet another destination with her elegant words and also wit her mind's eyes- Morocco. The mystical land that has its own beauty and essence and mysteries, are all vividly arrested into this story. As Nell and Amy's story progressed so is the story of the city- Morocco. The author has also captured the timeline during the Vietnam War, which may not have that strong presence in the book, but the past is pristinely featured in the story. Yes Ley's books are always like a magical portal to a different better world.

The characters are drawn realistically with lots of back story and their own guilt to support their demeanor. Amy and Nell both are a victim of pain and are in bad relationships, yet somehow this pain of theirs feels so enriching to the readers, since the author has a way to fill the minds of the readers with sympathy for both the protagonists. The supporting cast is also strongly developed and are featured with lots of realism in their demeanor. Each and every character are etched out with love, thus they all have a way to make the readers feel and move them deeply with the story.

Overall, this is a wonderful story and once again Rosanna Ley captivated both my heart and mind wit her compelling yet emotional story.

Verdict: A must read book for all the contemporary as well as historical fiction fans.

Courtesy: Thanks to the author, Rosanna Ley's, publishers, for providing me with a copy of her book, in return for an honest review. 

Author Info:
Rosanna Ley has worked as a creative writing tutor for over 15 years. Affiliated to several colleges and universities in England, she also runs her own writing courses in the UK and abroad. She has worked with community groups in therapeutic settings and completed an MA in creative writing for personal development in order to support this. Her writing holidays and retreats take place in stunning locations in Italy and Spain and whilst not teaching or writing she mentors and appraises the work of new writers. Rosanna has had numerous articles and short stories published in UK magazines, and 12 novels of contemporary fiction published in the U.K, Germany, Greece and the U.S.A under a pseudonym. Her books are inspired by the culture and landscapes of Italy, Sicily and the Canary Islands and feature strong female voices from the past and present, along with an intense undercurrent of mystery and romance. Rosanna spends some time every year travelling around Europe looking for writing inspiration and more tranquil settings for writing holidays. She loves cliff walking and her favourite writing place is somewhere with a sea view. When she is not travelling, Rosanna lives with her artist husband in a Victorian cottage in West Dorset by the sea.  
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