Garden Spells by Sarah Addison Allen

Published August 28th, 2007

The lowdown from Goodreads

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. 

Oh my goodness, this book was so enjoyable. I just love the premise. A tragic family history, a psychic cousin, a sister coming home to escape her abusive marriage & unrequited love. I can’t believe I waited so long to pick this up.

As a Texas girl at heart, these Southern characters & their mannerisms are so familiar to me. I really connected to Evanelle, the cousin who always seems to know the right thing to do. The Waverleys share a long family history in the small town of Bascom, North Carolina.  The author shares the family’s secrets, love triangles & throw in a magic apple tree & I was hooked. This story was so fun, I can’t believe someone wouldn’t enjoy it. This book was an enchanting combination of Chocolat, Practical Magic with a sprinkling of The Divine Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood. The best part is, there’s a sequel! First Frost picks up the same characters & I’m really looking forward to reading it soon.

Friends, what other books have I been missing out on?

Sarah’s Website     Buy this Book

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