Garden Spells by Sarah Addison Allen
Fiction, Published 2006
Read June 2008
From the Cover:
In a garden surrounded by a tall fence, tucked away behind a small, quiet house in the smallest of towns, is an apple tree that is rumored to bear a very special sort of fruit…
Set in North Carolina, the Waverley family is known for their peculiar ways with flowers and herbs grown from the garden in their backyard. Claire is no exception and she has created a profitable catering business from it. Claire lives alone in her grandmother’s house, pretty much apart from the outside world except for her customers and her crazy eighty-year-old distant cousin Evanelle. Claire uses flowers from her garden in all of her recipes to enhance or change the mood of the person eating.
“…all the locals knew that dishes made from the flowers that grew around the apple tree in the Waverley garden could affect the eater in curious ways. The biscuits with lilac jelly, the lavender tea cookies, and the tea cakes made with nasturtium mayonnaise the Ladies Aid ordered for their meetings once a month gave them the ability to keep secrets. The fried dandelion buds over marigold-petal rice, stuffed pumpkin blossoms, and rose-hip soup ensured that your company would notice only the beauty of your home and never the flaws. Anise hyssop honey butter on toast, angelica candy, and cupcakes with crystallized pansies made children thoughtful. Honeysuckle wine served on the Fourth of July gave you the ability to see in the dark…”
And if you eat an apple from the apple tree, that is if Claire allowed you anywhere near it, you would see the most significant event that would happen to you in your life, good or bad. The tree was a life force all its own and if it wanted you to see the future, it would throw apples until you got the hint.
I really enjoyed Evanelle’s character. She’s very eccentric and always knows what to give people before they ever actually need it. But fate is on her side and the random items she gives people always help them in
some unforeseen circumstance.
Claire has become set in her ways and only leaves the house for business. Then suddenly the fates turn the tides and upset Claire’s stable, yet isolated, world. First it’s her new next door neighbor, Tyler. He is very interested in getting to know Claire, but she doesn’t want anything to do with him. Then, her long-lost sister, Sydney, shows up with a daughter and upsets the entire town. Claire is constantly afraid of being left again by Sydney and her new love interest Tyler. But Claire has to learn to open her heart and let them in if she ever wants to find what the apple tree has in store for her.
Overall, I really enjoyed this book. It was a fairly quick read and the “magical realism” aspect of the novel was really enchanting. The different recipes Claire describes sound purely scrumptious. I recommend this book to anyone looking for a charming, uplifting read.