Garden Spells by Sarah Addison Allen
Author: Sarah Addison Allen
Title: Garden Spells
Release: August 2007
Purchase: | Book Depository
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.
Claire Waverly owns a catering business where she is the most sought after caterer in town for the way she uses her food and herbs to create the outcome her client would like from the event. If you want to tell a secret and make sure it stays in the room, if you want to create an image of importance etc. you just call on Claire to cater your event and everything goes perfectly. Claire has managed to find a way to market the strange gift she has been given as a Waverly and she is content with her life just the way it is. She has no idea as we will see in GARDEN SPELLS by Sarah Addison Allen things are about to get shook up in her life where everything around you is not always what it seems.
I picked up GARDEN SPELLS to read on my vacation and immediately I was swept away to small town NC with Claire and her family. As Claire’s life is moving along steadily in her long time family home her sister Sydney, who has always bounced around from town to town without a care in the world, is sneaking out of the house to escape an abusive relationship. With her daughter Bay in tow, she flees across the country from Seattle to North Carolina to the safety only her childhood home can provide. Their arrival as well as a brand new neighbor shakes up Claire’s existence and the story begins to unfold from there.
The book focuses on how Sydney and Claire reconcile their hurt relationship. As children we are prone to seeing things in a way that is skewed and these two sisters must come to see each other as well as their mother for who they are and not who they thought they were. Another focus is Claire’s new neighbor who has recently moved in and has the hots for Claire. This turn of events brings around many moments to laugh out loud and also works as a catalyst to bring the sisters together as well. For instance Claire keeps feeding him food designed to make him not have as much interest in her to no avail.
GARDEN SPELLS weaves just a touch of subtle magic into the storyline to make it intriguing. Each Waverly has a special gift that makes them unique and sometimes causes the town to look strangely upon them. Just as Claire can make magic with her herb garden her elderly aunt always feels the need to give people something they will need in the near future but she doesn’t know why. The apple tree in the back yard throws apples at you and things just are a little different at the Waverly household.
You fall in love with the town and a few other minor characters in the town as well. We are brought in to the intricate workings of a small town where everyone knows each other as we learn a little about how families are categorized as being a certain way for a long time. You will fall in love with the town’s inhabitants as the story unfolds.
GARDEN SPELLS is beautifully written, a quick lighthearted read that is perfect for the summer season. If you are looking for a quick story (I read it in one evening) that will leave you feeling warm and fuzzy inside then step into GARDEN SPELLS, let Claire make you a guilty pleasure to eat and relax as you get to know the Waverly Family.