November 8, 2008
Garden Spells by Sarah Addison Allen
2007 Bantam Books
Finished on 10/30/08
Rating: 4/5 (Very Good)
In a garden surrounded by a tall fence, tucked away behind a small, quiet house in an even smaller town, is an apple tree that is rumored to bear a very special sort of fruit. In this luminous debut novel, Sarah Addison Allen tells the story of that enchanted tree, and the extraordinary people who tend it.…
The Waverleys have always been a curious family, endowed with peculiar gifts that make them outsiders even in their hometown of Bascom, North Carolina. Even their garden has a reputation, famous for its feisty apple tree that bears prophetic fruit, and its edible flowers, imbued with special powers. Generations of Waverleys tended this garden. Their history was in the soil. But so were their futures.
A successful caterer, Claire Waverley prepares dishes made with her mystical plants—from the nasturtiums that aid in keeping secrets and the pansies that make children thoughtful, to the snapdragons intended to discourage the attentions of her amorous neighbor. Meanwhile, her elderly cousin, Evanelle, is known for distributing unexpected gifts whose uses become uncannily clear. They are the last of the Waverleys—except for Claire’s rebellious sister, Sydney, who fled Bascom the moment she could, abandoning Claire, as their own mother had years before.
When Sydney suddenly returns home with a young daughter of her own, Claire’s quiet life is turned upside down—along with the protective boundary she has so carefully constructed around her heart. Together again in the house they grew up in, Sydney takes stock of all she left behind, as Claire struggles to heal the wounds of the past. And soon the sisters realize they must deal with their common legacy—if they are ever to feel at home in Bascom—or with each other.
Enchanting and heartfelt, this captivating novel is sure to cast a spell with a style all its own…
I remember when this first came out as one of Barnes & Noble's "Recommends" titles. After hearing several mixed reviews from co-workers and bloggers, I put the book on my TBR list, but wasn't overly eager to give it a try, not with all my other books vying for attention. Earlier this year a good friend (who loved the book) sent me a copy, wanting me to experience what she believed was a fabulous read. I added it to my stack of "gift" books with plans to read it within the next month or so. Well, that "month" dragged on much longer than I planned, but on a whim I finally picked it up, ignoring all the ARCs I'd just received. I was immediately drawn into the magic of the story and quickly devoured it between work and home life. I loved the characters and came to care about them, hoping for a happily-ever-after ending. I won't give anything away, but I can say I thoroughly enjoyed the story and plan to read the author's second novel, The Sugar Queen.
Thank you, Gayla, for sending me such a charming book! I'm glad I held off to read it until this past month. It was just the right bit of escapism for a long, stressful month.
Check out the following reviews (many of which are a quite a bit more in-depth than my meager post) on some of my favorite bloggers' sites:
A High and Hidden Place
Bookfoolery and Babble
Lesa's Book Critiques
Tripping Toward Lucidity