Sunday, March 20, 2011
Garden Spells by Sarah Addison Allen
Two gifted sisters draw on their talents to belatedly forge a bond and find their ways in life in Allen's easygoing debut novel. Thirty-four-year-old Claire Waverley manifests her talent in cooking; using edible flowers, Claire creates dishes that affect the eater in curious ways. But not all Waverley women embrace their gifts; some, including Claire's mother, escape the family's eccentric reputation by running away. She abandoned Claire and her sister when they were young. Consequently, Claire has remained close to home, unwilling to open up to new people or experiences. Claire's younger sister, Sydney, however, followed in their mother's footsteps 10 years ago and left for New York, and after a string of abusive, roustabout boyfriends, returns to Bascom, N.C., with her five-year-old daughter, Bay. As Sydney reacquaints herself with old friends and rivals, she discovers her own Waverley magic. Claire, in turn, begins to open up to her sister and in the process learns how to welcome other possibilities. Though Allen's prose can lean toward the pedestrian and the romance subplots feel perfunctory, the blending of horticultural folklore, the supernatural and a big dollop of Southern flavor should find favor with a wide swath of readers.
What an interesting book. This is Sarah Addison Allen's debut novel (and I love reading debut novelists). I was told that this is a fairy tale type book and read nothing but great reviews about this book. Whether is was that my expectations were so high I am not sure, but I did not love this book. I just liked it, I might try another of her books, the reason being that this was the authors first book and hopefully they will get better.
I cannot really put my finger on what was lacking here. I felt the overall story line interesting, the 'gifts' of the Waverley family was an interesting concept. However the rest of the story I found predictable.