The women of the Waverley family — whether they like it or not — are heirs to an unusual legacy, one that grows in a fenced plot behind their Queen Anne home on Pendland Street in Bascom, North Carolina. There, an apple tree bearing fruit of magical properties looms over a garden filled with herbs and edible flowers that possess the power to affect in curious ways anyone who eats them.
For nearly a decade, 34-year-old Claire Waverley, at peace with her family inheritance, has lived in the house alone, embracing the spirit of the grandmother who raised her, ruing her mother’s unfortunate destiny and seemingly unconcerned about the fate of her rebellious sister, Sydney, who freed herself long ago from their small town’s constraints. Using her grandmother’s mystical culinary traditions, Claire has built a successful catering business — and a carefully controlled, utterly predictable life — upon the family’s peculiar gift for making life-altering delicacies: lilac jelly to engender humility, for instance, or rose geranium wine to call up fond memories. Garden Spells reveals what happens when Sydney returns to Bascom with her young daughter, turning Claire’s routine existence upside down. With Sydney’s homecoming, the magic that the quiet caterer has measured into recipes to shape the thoughts and moods of others begins to influence Claire’s own emotions in terrifying and delightful ways.
As the sisters reconnect and learn to support one another, each finds romance where she least expects it, while Sydney’s child, Bay, discovers both the safe home she has longed for and her own surprising gifts. With the help of their elderly cousin Evanelle, endowed with her own uncanny skills, the Waverley women redeem the past, embrace the present, and take a joyful leap into the future.
Before I get started, you need to know that this is a total chick book. I’m not saying that certain men won’t like it, but it’s definitely geared toward women.
Next thing you need to know: I am a huge Sarah Addison Allen fan. She is one author that if I met I would probably fangirl and squee over. I just love her writing, her characters, and everything else she does. The first book I read by her was called The Sugar Queen. I think I enjoyed that one a little more than this one. But I did love this one as well.
I’m not going to do an in-depth review here. Just know that she’s an amazing author, and even though she definitely writes women’s fiction, they aren’t your typical run of the mill chick-lit books. They go much deeper than that. They talk about real issues. And they are full of magical realism, which could easily get corny, but never does.
My favorite thing about this one was the apple tree in the garden that gave fruit all year and tried to pelt people with its apples to try to get them to eat them. But if you ate an apple from this tree, your greatest life’s moment would flash before your eyes. For a lot of people, this was their death. So you NEVER wanted to eat an apple from this tree or you might see how you died. But that’s not why I loved the tree. It had a personality all its own and made me giggle throughout the book.
This was Sarah Addison Allen’s first book. And I loved it. While you are reading her novels, it’s easy to get lost in the book, lost in the moment and forget the world around you. But when the book is over, they aren’t particularly memorable. I know this sounds horrible. But I don’t mean it that way really. It’s just that her writing is very subtle and gentle. It’s very poetic. Her books are definitely re-readable but as soon as you start reading something else, are easily overpowered. Some books I read are like a powerful thunderstorm. Hers are more like a quiet, lavender-rose scented bath. Make sense?
I doubt I will ever be holding giveaways for my Sarah Addison Allen books. I don’t want to give them away. I’d rather keep them in my collection. But look for giveaways coming soon. I have a couple of ideas brewing.
I haven’t read The Peach Keeper or The Girl Who Chased the Moon yet, but keep an eye out for those, because I definitely will be reading them soon.
Visit Sarah’s website for more info about her books here: Sarah Addison Allen
I don’t have a book trailer for Garden Spells, but I do have this quick two-minute interview with the author about the book.