Absolutely delightful book. A treasure of light fantasy, some romance without the usual romance plot. This book is a nice break from all the heavy, serious, thinking books many of us read. I recommend it for even the hardcore non-fiction readers.
I have to admit that I do agree with some of the other reviewers about the book echoing a little of Alice Hoffman's book Practical Magic as the premise is similar. I did, however, find the characters in this book to be very engaging and interesting. The sisters in this story played well with the secondary characters which did help give this book an individual feel. I particularly liked the way the author made the apple tree in the garden a character (in its own way) in the story.
The book is well thought out, but there is more internal conflict rather than external conflict in this book. If you are a reader who prefers their books with a lot of fast paced action than this book will probably read a little too slowly for you.
I personally loved this book. It was sweet, smart, and had some lovely lines in it that made me want to read more from this author. I can see how it could have been fleshed out a little more, but as this is a fresh author I think this will probably come with time.
Although this book was good and enjoyable it wasn't very original. The whole time I was reading it I kept thinking of Alice Hoffman. This was so like her writing. If I hadn't known who the author was I would have assumed the author was AH.
This was a beautiful and fun, light read -- mixing a little bit of magic with culinary expertise, this book dives into North Carolina southern hospitality, small towns, local legends, and straight gossip. The debut novel for Sarah Addison Allen, and I can't wait for her next book out in 2008. Highly recommend!
This is an absolutely wonderful book filled with intrigue and magic. It is about two sisters, Claire and Syndey who have not seen each other in ten years. Syndey and her daughter Bay suddenly show up at Claire's house one dy, needing a place to stay. Claire has an enchanted garden in her backyard complete with an apple tree that will tell you your future or the greatest moment in your life when you eat an apple. I don't want to mention anything else in the book because I am afraid that I will give the good parts away. It is an absolutely amazing book. For me it was a quick read (about 3 hours) but it was positively wonderful. I definitely recommend this book for anyone who has a childlike innocence about the world we live in.
I loved this book. From the first page I connected with the characters and felt a part of the story. The characters in the book are believable and lovable, even the ones you don't want to like. And Evanelle is the Aunt I wish I had! I'd adopt her in a minute!
I think most of us can relate to not feeling like we fit in and as we grow up and mature learning how to become who we are and be happy with and embrace that person. I found the characters to be real people, with real thoughts and emotions, and liked how the relationships were not handled as though easily dismissed or uncomplicated.
I found garden Spells to be similar in flavor to Practical Magic. I enjoyed the mystical elements of the book, but the people are what kept me reading. Seeing a family come back together and learn about themselves made for a good read.
This was a truly great book. This was a new author to me, and I am considering buying her next book new to go around the (hefty) wish list. I loved this.
Magic is woven in this book, and the apple tree is a character - both a very important and pivotal character in the book, and a 'character' in the 'TNT' sense of the word (we welcome characters').
The main character has denied her hertage for magic, until she must run from an abusive ex. Back home, to the house where the magic her family held made her feel like a freak as a child - back to the sister who has embraced her own magic to the hilt, running a catering company that weaves spells on clients and their guests from her magic garden.
This is a story full of character and characters.
This was a wonderful book! Well thought out, sprinkled with a little magic, and the bond shared between sisters and families shows that old, and young dogs can learn new tricks, and there's nothing wrong with letting a little love into your life. I can't wait to read more from this author.
Being an organic gardener, mostly herbs and flowers, I related to this book like no other book I have read in along time. I loved it. It was eccentric enough to keep me interested page after page and I actually felt a sense of loss when I finished it. It is a good read that mixes a magical element, opposite the ugliness of spousal abuse. The plot is so satisfying and reeks of Southern graciousness. All of the characters, even the lesser mentioned ones, are quirky and strange, but you love them just the same as the main characters. I recommend this book for anyone who treasures their own memories as you will soon learn why when reading about the "sentiment tree." A "must read" that you will enjoy when wandering away from your normal reading.
I, too, was a bit reminded of "Practical Magic", but this story completely sucked me in - I was desperate to learn more about that backyard garden - especially the tree.
I would recommend this book to most, although I found a slight turnoff in the violent car scene between Sydney and her to-be ex-husband, but I recognize that it wasn't supposed to be pretty. Thankfully, this episode is only briefly visited. I did find Claire a little too narrow-visioned to be believable, but again, the author's timing and story-telling won me over.
"Garden Spells" is a must read for those of us who miss those childhood fairy tales and still believe in make-believe and magic.
Loved this little book. It was so magical and lovely. Story is a bit like Practical Magic by Alice Hoffman, but with its own flair. Sometimes it is nice to read about people who learn to accept each other and themselves for who they are, regardless of what other people think or do. It was a feel good book that sucked me on page 1. Can't wait to read The Sugar Queen!
I enjoyed this book, it made me laugh out loud in places and was very touching in spots too. BUT - it's hard to view it as an independant work. It's "Practical Magic - The Next Generation". The tale of the daughters of the red-headed sister. The 'world' is borrowed from the other, with subtle changes, yes, but almost as if it had originally been a work of fan fic that was polished up for publication. But it's good, it's light, it's enjoyable, and if you liked Practical Magic, you will likely enjoy this as well.
Magical. I loved the way the story drew you in. You are able to relate to the characters and believe you know them. This is a book I will read many times and get something new out of it every time. A must read.
If you are looking for a sweet simple read this is your book. Characters were well written, story line was wonderful. My only issue was that the book ended to soon!!!! I can't wait to read another one by her!
I loved this book and plan to read more by this author. I was captured from the first page. She has a wonderful way with words and made the garden come to life. I loved the apple tree, it was my favorite character.
I really enjoyed reading this book. The characters were fresh and fun. I really ended up caring about them and I Stayed up late to finish the book and then was so sad when it ended. Looking for Allens next book!!!
What a delightful book! Yes, it is rather "young" at times, as some reviewers have stated. After reading several dark novels, this was a breath of fresh air for me. It is light, fun and easy to read. I really enjoyed it, in spite of the fact I am no longer 14! LOL D.
Garden Spells tells of a Carolina family tree of women and their secrets. Notwithstanding is the magical apple tree in their backyard. Each woman in the family has her own special gift and her struggle to come to terms with it.
The story grabs you from the first sentence and wont let you go until the last. The magic in the book is subtle. The real magic is in Ms. Allens writing.
This book hooked me from the beginning, when I thought I would "just take a peek". There is magic but it's almost believable, and very delightful. I like the questions put forth - do we determine our own destiny, or do family labels? Traditions? Apple trees? It's complicated...
I liked the relationships, which all were realistic.
This books is very reminiscent of the movie version of Practical Magic (which is a great deal different from the book), however I found it to be much better. The characters in this book grow, evolve, and are not afraid to say they are sorry. The sisters are much more mature with a story line that shapes and explains their decisions. The only overt 'magic' is the tree, the rest of the so called spells are nothing more than small town expectations and folklore.
The writing did not remind me of Alice Hoffman, possibly because I don't really care for most of Alice Hoffman's writing.
A very quick, enjoyable read, I will be looking for more from this author.
A light, fun story. It didn't really know what this book was really about, but it intrigued me. Nothing spectacular happens but, I still found myself wanting to keep reading. It's a good book if you're looking for something fun.
This book was beautifully written and such a good read. I have loved everything that I have read by this author, and cannot wait to read more. It was a fun read, very entertaining and though the tone is light, it carries heavy meaning. I could not put it down, it was captivating. I loved all the characters, especially Evanelle. The characters were vulnerable, quirky and wild. The author has a wonderful ability to make us believe, or wish, that magic is possible!!!
I really enjoyed this audio book. The narrarator did a great job, the story was interesting, and it helped pass the time on a long road trip so well that I was hoping it would be finished before I got home. Not your usual romance novel.
Wonderfully magical and makes you long for a small town of your own. A beautiful story about how life can change for the good and to be mindful of small gestures that can have a big impact. Loved it. The reader did a great job with the pace and voices.
Fun, light read. Two sisters from a family of magical women living in a house with a magical apple tree in the backyard that they keep away from the townspeople. Made me wish that I had such an apple tree, but I don't know if I could keep from eating those apples!
I loved the book. It is enchanting. I especially enjoyed it because I happened to be traveling in North Carolina while reading it. Happy coincidence. The characters were all believable and fun. I look forward to more books by this author. This was right up my alley.
What a delightful, whimsical book! At first I thought it was a bit strange, but as I got to know the sisters, I realized that there was a lot of magic and joy in the book. I look forward to reading more by this author. To tell more would spoil the book for other readers.
I really wanted to like this book. It was enjoyable I guess to a certain extent but it was just childish. . . . I guess is the word I am looking for. I felt like I was reading a romance written from the view point of a teenager. I am from a small town in North Carolina, born and raised not far from many of mentions in the book so I really wanted to feel more of a connection.
A lovely book about the relationship between two sisters that after taking separate ways in her teenage years reconnect later in life to help each other and embrace their roots as "Waverly's" in the smaal town of Bascom, North Carolina
I was almost turned off at the beginning of the book because of the references to magic and potions...generally not my area of interest at all. However, I kept reading and found the story to be thoroughly entertaining. While it may not be Shakespeare, it is definitely a good read as well as a quick read. It was chosen for our book club to read and discuss, and because of the many characters and their personality developments, as well as the general plot line, there was much to discuss. I enjoyed it enough that I bought another book by Ms. Allen, which I look forward to reading.
Every smiley moon, without fail, Claire dreamed of her childhood.
The Waverley women of Bascom, North Carolina each have a special talent. These talents keep them separate from the good citizens of their small town. Claire and Sydney grew up in Bascom, tended by their grandmother after their mother left. Claire stayed in the town to take care of the enchanted garden in the back yard while Sydney ran away as soon as she could. Sydney returns to Bascom with her daughter after being involved with an abusive man.
This book caught me from the first and I read it straight through. The descriptions of Claire's lovely recipes came alive. Cousin Evanelle's need to give people what they need was a curious and delightful talent. Sydney feels lost and does not "find" her true talent until she returns to cutting hair. The characters are all well thought out and portrayed in descriptive manner.
A lovely book about finding out who you are and using the gifts you possess. I look forward to reading more from this author.
This book was a little difficult to "get into," but after a couple of chapters, the reader is taken to a neighborhood where sisters unite with the help of their exclusive gifts involving the garden. The book is a good, light read and I enjoyed it.
Loved this story...I wish it hadn't sat on my bookshelf so long...if it is on yours, get it down now and read it! What a lovely, lyrical story. I was hooked from page one by the sisters' stories and read it every chance I had until I finished it...then I was sad there wasn't anymore. Will be looking for other books by this author. Excellent!
I have never seen this author before, but I will definitely be looking up her books for sure now. This book started a little slow for me, but I did get through it rather quickly, in less than a week.
Claire is a woman set in her ways.. routine is important to her. She is happy with her life and her catering buisness. Serving up edible flowers is her job and her passion. She is thrown on her heels when her mysterious sister arrives. Follow their journey and see where fate takes them in this great book of love and sisterhood.
my book club enjoyed this book immensely. A good, fast read, but very intriguing and passionate. The humor is great to balance the emotional ride the characters take throughout. The story isn't too heavy on the mystical, just enough to make it good.
Once again, I find a book that is wonderful but somehow I can't give it a full 5 stars - I think because I wanted more, and it ended too soon. It took me long enough to pick this up, and to my surprise every time I had to put it down, I wanted eagerly to get back to it. The Waverleys of Bascom, North Carolina are a strange family with magic that is well know to every native of the town. Reserved, solitary Claire has a way with the mystical plants in their garden, and has parlayed this skill into a successful catering business. Her aunt Evanelle has impulses to give people gifts, which they always eventually need. Claire's sister Sydney, however, left town in her youth, following in the footsteps of their mother, who had abandoned them years ago. But suddenly Sydney, with a young daughter in tow, is back in the town she has always hated, running from an abusive husband. The sisters, so different in personality, now have to learn to live together and get along although they never used to, if they are to be happy in their lives. And at the same time, both have to learn to open their hearts and accept love when they are fearful of being hurt.
This book has a quiet and wondrous magic, and the characters, both major and minor, are fascinating people that you want to know more about. Perhaps the most intriguing and amusing character is the magic apple tree that they don't dare eat from because it shows the eater the biggest event in his or her life. It's an unusual story of magical realism that captivates and leaves the reader wanting more.
I listened to this book on audio. I picked it out because it sounded interesting, magical, and had gotten wonderful reviews. I am very glad I listened to it; it was a wonderful book unlike anything I have read before.
The Waverly family has magic. There are two sisters; Claire can make people feel things with the flowers she uses in her cooking and Sydney can make your hair look better than it ever has. Sydney's daughter, Bay, knows where things below and where they should be. Evelyn, an older cousin to the sisters, knows when people need will need something and gives people strange things that they do eventually need. It is mostly passive magic and is subtly woven in throughout the story. The bigger part of the story deals with these women and their lives, as well as their quest to find happiness. Claire is set in her way and doesn't want to change for anything or anyone, least of all for a man. When Sydney arrives with Bay in tow, fleeing an abusive husband, Claire's routine is sent askew. Claire's nice life is further disrupted when her neighbor claims he is in love with her and tries to win her heart. Oh and let's not forget the magical apple tree that keeps secrets of its own.
This was a beautiful book, there is no other way to describe it. It is written in such a way that you can smell the flowers and see their beauty; the description is wonderful. The characters are beautiful too; they are flawed but always striving to obtain happiness and do the best that they can to make others happy.
I wasn't sure if I would like this book. It seems more aimed at middle-aged women than anything else. Even though the women involved are older, I grew to love them and the grace with which they struggled through life. There is quite a bit about love in this book, not exactly romance, but love between family members, mother-daughter, and about finding new love.
The book has a light sense of humor throughout and really tugged at my emotions. Sometimes I found myself laughing out loud, sometimes angry, and sometimes almost in tears. It takes a great writer who can write engaging characters to evoke all those emotions in a reader and Allen suceeded at this.
You'll love the complex, intelligent women in this book. You'll cherish the struggles they go through; you'll read about how wonderful life can be when you strive to make it so. The actual magic in this book is subtle but definitely one of the driving influences in these women's lives. There is even more magic in the every day struggles the characters go through both with their personal issues and their past histories.
Loved this book. Different from what I normally read and aimed at an older female audience. Still I think many people will enjoy this book; there is a lot of subtle magic here, beautiful description, and it ends happily. Definitely a feel-good book. I will most likely check out some other works by Laura Addison Allen when I get the chance. This book reminded me a bit of some movies I've seen like Practical Magic or Chocolat.
This doesn't read like a first novel---it's much more polished than that. It has some of the lyric quality of the urban fantasies of Charles de Lint, and some of the earthy style of BIG STONE GAP. I suspect fans of either will thoroughly enjoy GARDEN SPELLS!
From back cover: In a garden surrounded by a tall fence, tucked away behind a small, quiet house in an even smaller town, is an apple tree that is 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.â¦ The Waverleys have always been a curious family, endowed with peculiar gifts that make them outsiders even in their hometown of Bascom, North Carolina. Even their garden has a reputation, famous for its feisty apple tree that bears prophetic fruit, and its edible flowers, imbued with special powers. 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 plantsâfrom 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 Waverleysâexcept 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 downâalong 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 legacyâif they are ever to feel at home in Bascomâor with each other.
This was a wonderful read! It did remind me of another story I shall not mention, but it has its own twists and turns and magical allure. This book has earned a place on my permanent book shelf and I look forward to reading other stories by this author!
It reminded me of "Practical magic".
Nothing very surprising, but the characters are likable, and I enjoyed Sarah Addison Allen prose.
One big plus, there was no much of the depressing, melodramatic stuff that seem so common in romance and even female friendship books.
A light ,pleasant read.
I plan to try few other books by this author.
I love these fanciful tales that Sarah Addison Allen writes. A little dysfunction, a little love, a little magic spun together in a relaxing fun read. This is her first and it is good, her second is great!
I found this to be an entertaining book, but felt it didn't merit more than 3 stars. Much of the storyline was just too silly for me (an apple tree that hurls its apples, wraps its branches around picnic table legs, causes people to know the future, plants that cause you to have night vision, etc., etc.). I enjoy books that incorporate gardens in their stories, but this was just too over the top for me, though I did enjoy much of the story and wanted to see how it all panned out. Not one I'd readily recommend to others, though.
As many other readers have said, this book is reminiscent of Practical Magic, although more of the movie than the book (which is a good thing because I LOVED the movie, but was less enthralled by the book).
I loved the small town, Southern charm with all the eccentric families, including the Waverly sisters and their magical garden. Unlike PM, GS focused on eccentricity and an enchanted garden, not actual witchcraft and magic.
I liked this novel better than The Peach Keeper -- the setting, characters, etc., just seemed more likeable, believable, etc. The only detail that bugged me was the "Clark women" mythology. Emma was born a Clark, but her mother Ariel married into the Clark family, so she's not technically a Clark woman, but the mythology still applied to her. That illogical little bit bugged me every time it made an appearance in the story.
A beautifully written book. The Waverleys have always had the reputation of being eccentric. Their apple tree has odd abilities - you et an apple and find out the major event in your life. When Sydney returns home, with her young daughter, Claire, her older sister and she have to come to terms with their past.
A wonderful "feel good" book. I read it awhile ago and decided to put on my Keeper shelf, but I can't keep them all anymore. So I decided to put it in a swap so someone else can get a chance to read this amazing book.
from back cover
"In a garden surrounded by a tall fence, nicked 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 eextradordinary people who tend it."
Wonderful book, characters that you can relate too, and feel sympathy for too.
Highly recommend this story.