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.
©2007 Sarah Addison Allen; (P)2007 Brilliance Audio
"The blending of horticultural folklore, the supernatural and a big dollop of Southern flavor should find favor with a wide swath of readers." (Publishers Weekly)
"Spellbindingly charming, Allen's impressively accomplished debut novel will bewitch fans of Alice Hoffman and Laura Esquivel." (Booklist)
I just loved it! The author is so beautifully descriptive and the narrator was just perfect. I loved the scents from the Waverley garden and kitchen. I could feel the magic of those scents and the colors that celebrated Claire's mood and passion. I can listen to it over and over. I originally bought the hardcover book, but couldn't pack it when I went on vacation because of airline weight restrictions. So I downloaded the audiobook to my MP3 player with the intention of giving away the hardcover book. Oh no! not anymore. This book is a keeper!
The Waverleys have always been an strange family. The Waverley women each has a gift that makes them, individually and collectively, outsiders even in their home town of Bascom, North Carolina.
Evanelle, for one -- she comes bearing gifts she is compelled to give to someone-- a box of pop-tarts, a skein of yarn, a shirt several sizes too large. And yet, every time, what she brings soon turns out to be useful in some way. Crucially useful, even.
Claire, who inherited her grandmother's Queen Anne house, tends to the flower and herb garden, and uses its products in her catering business, ingredients that, used just so, produce interesting results. And the garden has this strange apple tree...
Sydney, Claire's younger sister, left home as soon as she was old enough, but now returns fleeing an abusive marriage with her little girl in tow. With Sydney home, things start to change -- and Claire is not altogether certain she wants them to. Especially not when it comes to that disconcertingly attractive artist/teacher who just moved next door.
It's a nicely written book-- charming, sweet, just that hint of magic. At times, it reminded me of S.E. Phillips, other times of Jenny Crusie. And Sydney's story will remind you of Nell from the Three Sisters Island books by Nora Roberts.
I loved this audio book, and like another reviewer am going to get the paper version as a keeper. The characters were flawed in real ways and the magic in the story was intertwined so well that it was just a part of the story. It definitely left me wanting more stories of the town.
I loved this audiobook so much, I will be buying the print version to have for when I have more sedentary time in my life. The characters are fun, familiar, real. The setting enchanting. There is a believable magic in the air, the garden, the soil, the personalities. Wonderful, fun!
Lover of books!
I have always enjoyed a little bit of magic in storytelling. Though I'm not a big fan of romantic novels, Garden Spells has just that type of mix of magic and romance that I enjoy. This was such an enjoyable read that I wish Ms. Allen would continue writing about these characters. I really enjoyed the Waverly's and their garden, especially their special apple tree. The southern charm was almost a character unto itself. I wish there was a cookbook that accompanied the novel so that I could try some of Clarie's recipes; and the obvious knowledge of edible flowers and herbs was extensive, making me want to start growing a flower herb garden. The only reason I couldn't give this a 5 star rating is because of the lack of detail in some of her writing. I would have loved to know more details about Sydney's life in Seattle or Clarie's when she was young with her mother or how Clarie had decided to become a caterer. I felt drawn into the Waverly home but intimate details outside of that magical place was pale in comparison, which may be Allen's intention. But I often wished as I read that instead of telling me things, she would show through character development. But this doesn't take away from how much I enjoyed the obvious love & magic of these characters and overall story. I will be listening to this book again and again just to stop in and visit these characters and this interesting magical place. A great first book!!!
Interested in books that help one's spirit move beyond the ordinary.
I purchased this book because the sequel, First Frost, is this month's selection for my local library book group. I don't like coming into a series in the middle and I was drawn to the magical theme of the garden and the Waverly sisters so I decided to start with Garden Spells. While magic is woven through the story, it is not really the primary plot. Rather it is mostly about the return of Sidney to her home town of Bascom, NC and the resultant impact on her sister Claire and the other townsfolk.
While I very much enjoyed the book, if you are drawn to it primarily because of the magical bent, you should be aware that it is only one component. Also, while not giving away the story, I think readers should be aware that Sidney's story contains some difficult elements. Thus, the title of this review
I only gave the narrator three stars because her ability to do a range of voices was just not there. She was very good at the female characters, particularly the southern drawl of Evenel. However, the male characters suffered.
Good story. The story and relationships are a little meatier than a lot of books in this genre,
But the best part was the descriptions of the magical effects of different flowers and plants. It was all presented so well that it seemed plausible you could whip up a love potion cupcake in the kitchen. (I have added a few edible flowers to my garden this Spring! Just in case.)
Worth the credit.
I originally listened to this book free through my library account, but I liked it so much, I bought it as a keeper.
Garden Spells is funny, sad, poignant, and romantic, and there's that apple tree that just fascinated me.
I predict this author will be hitting the NYT Bestseller list in the near future.
Other reviews spin this book negatively claiming that the storyline mimics Practical Magic. Well, the reviews are right - the storyline is very similar to Practical Magic, but that was perfecly fine by me. I enjoyed Practical Magic. This story is indeed very similar, but not identical. I was in the mood for a "feel good" quick story and this satisfied that craving. The characters are all very likeable and endearing. The story was predictable, but again, I didnt mind. I finished it with a smile on my face. I have no complaints. It was perfectly charming.
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