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.
I started this book around 1 a.m. and finished it around 8:45 a.m. This is my second book by Allen – I have added her other books to my “want to read” list on Goodreads so I won’t have to search next time I want a good book to read.
The story is well explained above so I’m not going to go into the plot. Let me tell you the things I loved about this book. First, the garden itself and, especially, the cantankerous old apple tree. When she described flowers or scents from the garden, I could pull most of them up from memory and almost smell them too.
Having five sisters, I could easily relate to the two in the book and how the past has a hold of a person until they can finally find it in themselves to let it go. I loved the characters – who wouldn’t want an odd aunt like Evanelle? The town was also a treat with its many facets and snobbery.
You have to suspend your disbelief in the fantastical and let the book in. For just as in “The Girl Who Chased the Moon”, there is an element of fantasy in it. Who wouldn’t want to have a special gift – a magical trait that is unique to the person like baking dishes that help people with their lives, or knowing exactly the right haircut for each person, or knowing exactly where everything belonged, etc.
It is a fun read with great characters. I wouldn’t say it is deep and there is no mystery so if you are looking for something like that, don’t read this book. This is the kind of book that gives you a warm, fuzzy feeling on a cold winter night. I give it an A.