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Garden Spells Hardcover – 9 Aug 2007

82 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Hardcover: 304 pages
  • Publisher: Hodder & Stoughton (9 Aug. 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0340935723
  • ISBN-13: 978-0340935729
  • Product Dimensions: 13.9 x 20.7 x 2.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (82 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 797,053 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Sarah Addison Allen is the New York Times bestselling author of Garden Spells, The Sugar Queen, The Girl Who Chased the Moon and The Peach Keeper. She lives in North Carolina, where her novels are set.

You can discover more at, find Sarah on Facebook at, or follow her on Twitter @SarahAddisonAll.

Author photograph credit: Melissa Markis.

Product Description


'Beguiling . . . Weaves a magical spell that enchants you as it draws you in. An absolute gem.' (Now)

'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 welcom (Publishers Weekly)

'This compelling book has it all - passion, romance and sibling rivalry. This is Sarah Addison Allen's first novel - she's definitely one to watch.' (My Weekly)

'Spellbindingly charming, Allen's impressively accomplished debut novel will bewitch fans of Alice Hoffman and Laura Esquivel, as her entrancing brand of magic realism nimbly blends the evanescent desires of hopeless romantics with the inherent wariness of those who have been hurt once too often.' (Booklist)

'This magical tale is charming, and has wicked undertones' (Telegraph)

Book Description

A magical, utterly delicious debut that will cast its charm over everyone who loved Chocolat or Fried Green Tomatoes.

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Customer Reviews

4.4 out of 5 stars

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

14 of 15 people found the following review helpful By C. Johnstone on 4 Aug. 2007
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This book is such a treat to read. Allen writes with such beauty and intrigue. Its so mystical, yet completely believable. The reader gets carried into the the wonderful world of Claire Waverley's garden, in North Carolina and you really can believe you are there, however you feel a sense of loss when you finish the book as you just want to keep on reading! Totally Enchanting!
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Siobhanrodgers on 28 Feb. 2008
Format: Hardcover
I read this book in one sitting so I suppose that says something... The story carries along nicely, and there is a sense of place, I could feel the heat and smell the garden. But it's too like "Practical Magic" by Alice Hoffman... I kept expecting another old aunt, and wondering why the characters had names that weren't Sally and Gillian! And then it doesn't have the subtle magical quality Hoffman has, the magic is there but its all too in-your-face for my liking, apple trees all but talking, a list of spell ingredients in the back... It's a good book to fill in a gap whilst I wait for Hoffmans' latest. I do recommend it but read "Practical Magic" and maybe a few others by Hoffman too, ("The Probable Future" has the same "witchy" feel) and yes as the publishers describe it do read "Chocolat" by Joanne Harris as well.
It's a good start and I look forward to Miss Addison Allen developing her own style in the future.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Brida TOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on 22 Aug. 2007
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
GARDEN SPELLS was a delightful read. It is about two sisters; Claire and Sydney Waverley. They come from Bascom, North Carolina, where everybody knows that the Waverley women have something about them. One thing is the garden to their grandmother's house: it flowers all year long and the apple tree is something of a legend; if you eat an apple from it, rumour says that you will see the most significant event of your life.
As the town caterer, Claire has stayed in the small town, taking over her grandmother's house. Her life is how she likes it with an order and a sense of control to help her feel safe.
Sydney, on the other hand, left Bascom without letting even her sister know where she was, or how she was. After ten years of staying away, Sydney finally returns to Bascom, seeking her own kind of safety within the small town.
After their arrival, Claire senses that her life is no longer as safe as before they arrived. And although Claire is able to provide a little magic and help for the other people living around her, she seems unable to claim any of that magic for herself.
But, will things change? Can they change. . ?

GARDEN SPELLS reminded me of CHOCOLAT by Joanne Harris. But, instead of the main female character using chocolate to weave magic spells for the people that came to her looking for some kind of solace in their life, here Claire makes use of the continually flowering plants from her garden.
If you suspend belief, perhaps, and allow yourself to be carried away by this wonderful piece of literature, you will be in for a magical and delightful summer read.
Recommeded to those who want a little magic in their life and best read out in your own garden.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Louise Amkaer on 18 April 2010
Format: Paperback
"Garden Spells" definitely builds on the wonderful legacy of Alice Hoffman's "Practical Magic", but it has it's own flavour.

Claire lived in the Waverly house, taking care of the blooming garden and her catering business, when a man moves in next door - and he takes interest in her; and Claire's estranged sister, Sidney and her daughter Bay show up on Claire's doorstep. What follows is a tale of accepting the past, one's self, and the opportunities that arise when we least expect them.

Magic plays a role in the story in a subtle, realistic way. Sometimes it is just the gossip and superstition of a small town i.e. that family is strange, the men of that family die/marry young. It is the always blooming garden and the strange apple tree. It is knowledge of herbology and cooking. It is the belief that things happen that we cannot explain, but that the universe around us has its ideas.

This is a magical story, excellent for both a holiday by the pool or a day on the couch when it's raining.


P.S. My "only" 3 stars is due to the close resemblance to "Practical Magic".
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Suze @ Suze Likes, Loves, Finds and Dreams TOP 1000 REVIEWER on 21 Feb. 2015
Format: Paperback
The Waverley women have a reputation. People in Bascom both fear and admire them because they have special gifts. Claire is living in the house that has been in the family for generations. There's an unusual apple tree in the yard and both the tree and the house have their own opinions. Claire wants to be a Waverley, her magic is important to her. Her sister Sydney has always run away from it. Claire's surprised when one day she finds Sydney and her daughter on her doorstep. They haven't seen each other in years and Sydney is clearly running from something. She's come to Bascom to be safe and to build up a life for her and her daughter. Claire has lived in Bascom for many years, but she hasn't got a social life, she needs to have some fun. Fortunately there are two kind men who might be friendship material or even more than that and they each like a different sister.
The cover of this book is gorgeous and it feels like a precious gift that's there for the reader to open. That is how all Sarah Addison Allen's books feel to me. I enjoyed reading this story very much. Sydney and Claire both have issues with their past. Their mother left them with their grandmother and she never returned. While the sisters are becoming close things are slowly changing for the better. Claire's magic is in her food. I loved reading about it, it gave the book such a cozy and delicious atmosphere. Sydney has to discover her own kind of magic and it's fabulous to witness the process of finding out. Garden Spells is amazing. It's a wonderful fairytale about two great sisters who deserve so much more than what they have at the beginning of the book. I loved it and Sarah Addison Allen definitely possesses some magic of her own as she's able to write the most beautiful stories.
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