Top critical review
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on July 30, 2008
"Garden Spells" by Sarah Addison Allen is a romantic, practical fantastical book.
The Waverley family has long been the odd ball family in town, their apple tree that grows in their yard is a legend and if you eat one of the apples from the tree you will see a pivotal future event in your life. Some see when and how they die others see their future love. The tree tries to be part of the family by throwing apples at the family members and moving things with its branches, but no one seems to appreciate the tree except for one or two members of the Waverley family throughout the tree's history.
Claire Waverley is the sister that stayed in Bascom, North Carolina since her mother abandoned her there with her baby sister when Claire was six years old. Claire is now thirty-four years old and runs a successful catering business. Her sister Sydney reappears after a long absence with her daughter in tow. Sydney has escaped an abusive relationship and is trying to find refuge for herself, but mostly for her daughter. Her sister takes her in and they develop a stronger bond then they had when they were youngsters.
Claire is able to weave magic with her food and influence people's moods by serving them certain culinary delights. A life of order and predictability is what Claire lives and loves. A handsome professor buys the house next to Claire's and falls hopelessly in love with Claire, but Claire is resistant to his advances and the love story that unfolds is charming and maybe a slight cheesy.
There are a lot of side characters, my favorite being the seventy-nine year old Evanelle who has a compulsion to give people the weirdest items. The items she gives people always play a pivotal role in their lives if they choose to keep the item.
"Garden Spells" is a light book full of romance and good guys and bad guys your mother would want you to date or not to date. I found the first half of the book enchanting, the third quarter got a bit cheesy and tiring, but the last quarter finished off nicely. A definite chic book and it may appeal to foodies due to Claire's culinary life.