Published by Bantam on August 28, 2007
Genres: Adult, Romance
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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.
The Waverly sisters learn to love in this heartwarming southern novel. Let’s review!
I read Garden Spells when it was first published (almost ten years ago!). Since I couldn’t remember much of the plot, I decided to listen to the audiobook from the library. This novel does an amazing job entwining three narratives – Clair, Sydney, and Evanelle – together in a romantic, lyrical journey. Each Waverly is a unique individual, each with her own struggles and tribulations. It’s a beautifully written book with striking imagery of a small, southern town. The only problem for me was the conflict at the end. After the buildup for a showdown, it really just felt anticlimactic and messy.
I enjoyed the audiobook. The narrator created a dynamic story, although more distinction between Clair and Sydney’s voices was needed. Sometimes I had a hard time knowing which sister was speaking if they shared a scene.
tl;dr A delightfully coming home story full of friendship, love, and romance.