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Garden Spells [Hardcover]

Sarah Addison Allen
4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (67 customer reviews)

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Book Description

9 Aug 2007

Bascom, North Carolina is a town where everyone is known for their family's characteristics, passed down through generations. One family's women are good in bed: they always marry well. One family gives birth to a strong man - always called Josiah - once in a generation (you go to him to help you when you move house).

The Waverleys are known for their magic touch: Evanelle, who's lived in Bascom all her life, gives people what they need before they know they need it; Claire, who came to town when she was six and never wants to leave, can turn the plants in her garden into delicious food and drink with spectacular effects on those who consume it; Sydney, who ran away from her home town at 18, hasn't worked out what hers is. When Sydney returns to Bascom with her little girl, in flight from an abusive marriage, she proves a catalyst for change in the lives of all three women.

Product details

  • Hardcover: 304 pages
  • Publisher: Hodder & Stoughton (9 Aug 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0340935723
  • ISBN-13: 978-0340935729
  • Product Dimensions: 2.8 x 13.9 x 20.7 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (67 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 216,729 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

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
14 of 15 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars truly magical! 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
3.0 out of 5 stars All too familiar... 28 Feb 2008
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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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Flowers, love and a touch of magic 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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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Gardens, cookery and magic 13 Oct 2008
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
If you don't believe magic is possible then don't read this book. Claire Waverley lives alone in the family house with its mysterious garden which blooms all the year round and an apple tree which is definitely not what it seems. Everything is peaceful and calm just how she likes it until several events serve to disrupt her routine. A new neighbour moves in next door and her estranged sister returns to the house. Claire's life will never be the same again. I half expected the book to be too sweet and cloying but it wasn't. There was just a hint of acid in it to prevent it being too much like eating a whole box of chocolates in one sitting. It is an easy read and a charming one and if you like Christina Jones then you will possibly like this as well.
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9 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Garden Spells 31 May 2009
This book is about 2 sisters - Claire and her younger sister Sydney. Claire lives in the big, ancient house that has been lived in by her family for generations with a very special apple tree which if you eat the apple revelas something very important in your life, and its not advised to eat it!

Claire takes ingredients from her gardening to make food that affects the eater, unfortunately this makes her seem quite odd to the locals. But, its not just Claire that seems rather strange. Enter Claire's aunt Evanelle who predicts peoples needs, they may not know at the time she gives them things why they would need it but, it soon becomes clear later.

And then there is Sydney, she left Bascom (where Claire lives) many years ago but, returns after leaving a very abusive boyfriend and brings with her her six year old daughter Bay and Bascom is the one place Sydney feels safe but, he comes looking for her only Sydney is known to him as a different name.

I loved this book it kinds of has a feel of Joanne Harris novels to this so if you love her books I think you will love this the characters are brilliant and with a nice storyline beautifully told with lots of magic and a touch of humour.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Lovely 8 July 2008
A lovely quirky chick lit book. Yes, it was a bit predictable in places, but that isn't necessarily a bad thing. I liked the apple tree which tried to talk in it's own way to people & the old lady who had to give people things which they were going to need at a later date.I also liked the little girl, who seemed to have a special affinity with the apple tree & had to find a place for everything. This book was just magical & a delight to read. The cover was also very beautiful! I'm really looking forward to Sarah Addison Allen's next novel.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Loose yourself
I love Addison Allen fantastic books to get lost in.
Published 1 month ago by Nix
5.0 out of 5 stars Loved it!
Just brilliant!
Published 2 months ago by The Chemist
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Really enjoyed this book.
Published 2 months ago by MRS W F CURRY
5.0 out of 5 stars An Enchanting Read
I love Sarah's books , they are inspired. Really make you care about the characters. Would love to see a sequel to this and The girl who chased the moon. Well worth Reading.
Published 7 months ago by Anna Goode
5.0 out of 5 stars Brilliant Easy Read!
I love magic in books, the way it can send you to another place but fancied something a little different for a change. This book was perfect. Read more
Published 7 months ago by S. Knowles
5.0 out of 5 stars Brilliant feel good book
This book is great if you like romance with a bit of magic. Her best book and just joyful. Very easy read, goes well with a glass of wine and a hot bath! Read more
Published 7 months ago by C. Serginson
5.0 out of 5 stars Simply Spell Bounding
A friend gave this to be when I was on holiday. I didn't want it to end. I knew I had found a write that I would follow from book to book. Read more
Published 10 months ago by katmarvel
5.0 out of 5 stars Utterly enchanting
This is one of my favourite books, and I rate all of Sarah Addison Allen's books highly, but this one just breathes magic for me. Read more
Published 11 months ago by J. Gascoyne
4.0 out of 5 stars i really like
i really like this by Sarah Addison Allen, it is the favorite of her many fans, however for me personally i preferred the Sugar Queen and The Girl Who Chased The Moon. Read more
Published 13 months ago by tilliemint
5.0 out of 5 stars Lovely magical tale
Beautiful descriptions throughout a well crafted and original story that captivates the reader. Really enjoyed it. Makes me want to visit North Carolina!
Published 16 months ago by J. Escolme
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