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.…When I started reading this book at about 10 o'clock at night a while ago, I didn't realise I had made a mistake, but I had. My mistake was not realising that I was going to struggle to put this book down, especially as I had to go to work the next day!
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 plants—from 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 Waverleys—except 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 down—along 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 legacy—if they are ever to feel at home in Bascom—or with each other.
Enchanting and heartfelt, this captivating novel is sure to cast a spell with a style all its own….
If I was to look for one word to describe this book it would have to be MAGICAL. I have seen this classified as magical realism and I would have to agree, but this isn't the magical realism that you see in books like Gabriel Garcia Marquez's One Hundred Years of Solitude, where the prose makes the novel inaccessible for some readers, but rather, a very easy to read novel, very accessible and enjoyable to readers. Now I loved One Hundred Years, but if I had to pick a book to give as a gift to someone and these were my two choices, it would definitely be this one.
There are no doubt flaws in this novel. The romantic side of the novel was telegraphed very early on - it was very obvious who was going to end up with whom from very early on in the story, but in a fairy tale like book like this one it is not really a problem. It also helps that the rest of the novel was so enjoyable that the obviousness wasn't as much as it would have been if the novel itself was hard work to read. That isn't to say that this was an all fluff kind of novel. It's not. The author touches on some quite heavy themes like domestic violence, abandonment, belonging.
One of the highlights of the novel for me was the description of the food that Claire cooked. She chose specific ingredients for their affects - do you want to know the truth about something, then add this herb. I also loved the character of Evanelle, whose gift was to give someone something before they knew that they needed it. What a great gift to have!
To summarise I would say good characters (including the apple tree that is very much a character in the book), beautiful imagery, fantastic food descriptions - a fun read. I can't wait to read The Sugar Queen!
Have you reviewed this book? If so, leave a comment and I will link to your review!
Other Blogger's Thoughts
Lesley's Book Nook
A High and Hidden Place
Bookfoolery and Babble
A Garden Carried in the Pocket
Dreaming on the Job
Saving My Sanity
An Adventure in Reading