Book Review: Garden Spells (Waverley Family #1), by Sarah Addison Allen
Author: Sarah Addison Allen
Genre: Magical Realism
Year Published: 2007
Length: 304 pages (7 hours 43 minutes)
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In a garden surrounded by a tall fence, tucked away behind a small house in the smallest of towns, is an apple tree 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. A successful caterer, Claire prepares dishes made with her mystical plants--from the nasturtiums that aid in keeping secrets to the snapdragons intended to discourage the attentions of her amorous neighbor. Meanwhile, her cousin, Evanelle, distributes unexpected presents whose uses become uncannily clear. They are the last of the Waverleys--except for Claire's 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. Together again in the house they grew up in, the sisters soon realize they must deal with their common legacy--if they are ever to feel at home in Bascom...or with each other.
In A Sentence: This book was exactly what I needed!
My Thoughts: What a sweet book! This story had a little bit of everything I wanted for a light-hearted, fun read; it had light humor, quaint romances, a little bit of magic, and a dash of adventure!
The characters were a lot of fun to read about: they weren’t too developed, but they had enough dimension to make you love them. I liked watching Claire slowly come out of her shell, and seeing Tyler patiently wait for her to respond to his advances. I especially loved Evanelle! She’s such a spunky, funny character that you are constantly looking forward to seeing her again in every chapter!
The plot was nicely set and paced. It was never melodramatic, nor were there instances where I felt frustrated by how oblivious the characters were, because everyone in this book was open and willing to talk about the main issues. To me, that made the love stories feel more real and practical (I’m all about the practical love stories), and therefore all the more enjoyable.
Another thing I enjoyed was the independence of the women in this book. I like reading about women who are able to succeed on their own. Falling in love and getting married felt more like an afterthought in this story, rather than as the main part of the plot; at least, to me it did. It was rather nice!
Finally there was the house and the garden itself. Sarah Addison Allen has just described my dream home! Granted, she didn’t describe the supremely awesome library with a spiral staircase that I am going to have one day, but the Queen Anne house with a wraparound porch and a turret has been my dream home since I was kid. The beautiful garden is part of it too, although an apple tree that can think for itself would be an awesome bonus!
Overall I really enjoyed this book. It was very lovely, and I’m glad everyone recommended that I read it. It was exactly what I needed at the time, and I’ve already started the sequel. I would definitely recommend it to anyone who likes magical realism without the melodrama. It’s light, it’s sweet, and it’s quick. Enjoy!