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Thursday, July 23, 2009

Garden Spells...Review

About the book:
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.

Enchanting and a bit magical.

For multiple generations, the Waverley family has always been the odd family out in Bascom, North Carolina. The Waverley women all have unique, somewhat peculiar and intuitive gifts. Their garden is rumored to have magical properties and the apple tree has a personality of its own. They each have their own personal issues too.

Abandoned by their mother, Waverley sisters Claire and Sydney have forged their own lives. Sydney rebelled and left Bascom as soon as she could. Claire, in need of roots and stability, stayed. As a successful caterer, Claire has found her place in Bascom: the dishes she prepares with her mystical plants are in demand for their special properties. When an unwanted suitor moves in next door, she prepares meals for him in the hopes of discouraging his amorous intentions.

When Sydney returns home with her young daughter, the two sisters are able to reconnect as Sydney finally accepts her legacy of being a Waverley.

A charming book about life and relationships and family. I loved the characters, I loved the dialogue. There is mild, but disappointing and unnecessary, use of the "F" word and a brief rape scene (somewhat necessary to the story). Some readers also might want to be aware that a theme of using s*x to trap and keep a husband runs through the book due to another Bascom family. If not for these issues, I would have given it 4 stars, instead of 3 on Goodreads.

Thanks to my local library for having a copy I could borrow.

Read 7/09

* * *
3/5 Stars


  1. Hi, Holly!
    I'm first time posting a comment here. I found your blog on The Sunday Salon. I really love it, your reviews are amazing!
    This book sounds delightful. I don't know why, I instantly thought of Tuck Everlasting...I guess it's the magical garden/magical creek...anyway, I would love to read this book!
    Kindest regards,

  2. I really enjoyed this, but I agree that the language and the brief scene of sexual violence was unfortunate.

  3. I really loved this book as well. I don't remember the bad language in it although it has been a while since I read it. I have the tendency to just skip over words I don't want to read although I agree, this book wouldn't have needed any foul language at all.

  4. I've been wanting to read this book for a while. Thanks for the review.

  5. I have this one on my wishlist & I enjoyed your honest review so thank you!

  6. Like some of the other commenters, I've been meaning to read this for a long while! It does sound enchanting, even if it has some flaws.

  7. Hmm, this one sounds interesting. I'm adding it to my wish list.

  8. I loved this one as well as The Sugar Queen. I loved the mystical, magical themes. I don't remember the "F" word being a problem but I tend to overlook this unless it's done in a very vulgar and violent way.

  9. I enjoyed this while I was reading it, but overall was disappointed. I thought the writing and story held way ore potential than it delivered on.

    I didn't find it strange or feel put-off by a character using sex/pregnancy to trap a husband--after all, although generally deplorable, this was a common ploy once upon a time, and is still (sadly) not unheard of today. I was shocked, as an adult, to learn of how many women I knew had gotten their husbands with this scheme. (And even more shocked to learn how many of them had managed to stay together.)