So, I was visiting fellow reader, Bloedeudd’s Book Girl of Mur-y Castell blog, and read her review of First Frost. And it reminded me. I wanted to read Garden Spells the first book in the series. And a visit to the library sealed the deal when it was the book that leaped out at me (no, not literally- though if I lived in the author’s Waverley family word it might really happen).
And argh, this was another one that was so wonderful that I’m sad to have put it off for so long. Small town, sisters, family, magic, and summer love. Sigh… didn’t want to leave. And I don’t have to because there is more.
The story has multiple story threads and narrators, but it starts with change for Claire Waverley. A handsome new neighbor, her odd aunt sharing her gift, and Sydney the wild Waverley sister finally home after ten years and bringing her daughter, Bay. Sydney’s arrival causes a breath of air to sweep through the sleepy little town. And the apple tree in the Waverley garden feels the ripples and works its wiles.
Claire is the homebody. She loves her home and her connection to family. She tends the garden that grows at the foot of the old apple tree. Her food is sought by those who need some magic in their lives. Aunt Evanelle has the gift of giving the precise item people need before they tend to need it, but losing her husband has left her lonely until finally she is given someone to keep. Now there is Sydney who has a gift with hair, a hard past, and a desire for redemption when she comes home to keep her child safe. And Bay who knows where things belong especially that she and her mother belong in the old house with the garden, that her aunt keeps everything in its place and holds their handsome friendly neighbor at arms’ length, and that someone special has been waiting for her mother to return back to her roots. Yes, change has come and the old apple tree in the garden has been waiting.
I slipped into this warm, easy tale of magical realism like one would a comfortable natty sweater. I loved the setting of the town, the old house that is full of magic, the garden of edible flowers and growing things, the whimsical apple tree, the colorful characters, and the gently-paced plot full of sisterly reconciliation, love, growth, and some challenges left to be won.
It was all in the little things that I was drawn in and felt connected. Claire’s sumptuous food and well-rooted reliable nature, Evanelle’s wry wisdom, Sydney’s keen observation of human nature, and young Bay’s sense of rightness and place. Loved it. Then there was Tyler, the man who fell for Claire and wouldn’t give up, the snooty Clarks and their posse, the heartbroken Fred who still needs to find his way, Henry and his granddad who appreciate mature, grounded women. Things happen and life has a way of surprising one, but there wasn’t much drama. So the everyday was where the magic was found.
In summary, I loved it and would easily recommend it to those who love Contemporary Small Town Fiction, Romance, and a dab of magical realism.
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