Saturday, May 19, 2018

Garden Spells - Fiction Review

Rating: Loved It!
Source: Library

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.

Genre: Fiction - Contemporary

Why I Picked This Book:
  I had read another book by this author that I really loved and had heard raves about this one.

My Impression: 
So it appears I like magical realism.  Or at least magical realism as written by Sarah Addison Allen.  This is the 2nd book by this author and I've thoroughly enjoyed both.  This one just might be my favorite.
This is a book that's kind of  hard to write a review for because not much happens but at the same time there's a lot going on.  For starters we meet Claire Waverly.  She's a solitary character that easily could have come off as prickly but stops just shy of that.  She doesn't want to let anyone in to her life and strives to keep things just the way her beloved Grandmother left them.  Into town blows her sister Sydney and her 6 year old daughter Bay.  The history between the two is tense and full of misunderstandings and childhood grudges.  Bay immediately fits into the town and into Claire's life but the relationship between Claire and Sydney takes longer to develop and to heal.

While the relationship between the Waverly sisters is probably the biggest focus of the book there are lots of other townspeople about and we get little peeks into their lives.  Like Hunter John and Emma whose past with Sydney complicates their lives.  Fred who is desperately trying to repair his relationship with his long time partner James but doesn't quite know what the problem is to begin with.  Evanelle is a Waverly cousin frequently hit with the urge to give someone something they'll need for reasons she can't explain.

There's so much in this book.  There's family bonds and healing, there's small town community with all the good and all the bad, there's little bits of romance and hope, and there's just a touch of magic.  I really love how the magic is done here.  Many of the characters have their own gift which they're not always aware of or understand.  Claire is able to use certain flowers and herbs to influence events, reactions, or feelings and it's really a lot of fun to watch her work.  It makes me want to dash into the kitchen and start preparing herb-y floral creations.  Lavender bread anyone?

Would I Read More of this Series/Author?
  Yes!  Her books always have a summery feel to them so I do tend to pick them up at the start of summertime.  I read this one last year and just got another one by her from the library.

Would I Recommend this Book?
  Absolutely!  In fact I've even given it as a gift several times!


  1. It does look summery, and I remember seeing reviews for this when it came out. The idea of their mystical culinary gift is a neat one.

  2. This sounds a lot like Alice Hoffman's Practical Magic, which I loathed, but I loved the prequel she wrote last year: The Rules of Magic. I should give this a try. I have kept saying this to myself eveve time I see it mentioned on a blog. :)

  3. I know many have read books by this author and loved them. I haven't as yet, but one never knows. Glad it was a good one for you.

  4. Lovely review! I should read this one. I tried another of Allen's books and just couldn't get into it, though that may simply have been my mood at the time. But this one sounds so appealing, and seems to be a favorite with her readers. Thanks for the reminder to give her another try!

  5. I have been wanting to read this for quite a while now, as I know you have too. And you finally got to it! I am so glad to hear you loved it. I need to read it soon now!

  6. Ahhh this book is the best :) I really need to check out other books by this author!

  7. I agree - Sarah Addison Allen writes wonderful magical books. Another book with a similar feel is Pomegranate Soup by Marsha Mehran. I recommend it!