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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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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.

From the Inside Flap

Welcome to Bascomb, North Carolina, where it seems that where
it seems everyone has a story to tell about the Waverley women. The old
house that's been in the family for generations, the walled garden that
mysteriously blooms year round, the rumors and innuendoes of dangerous
loves and tragic passions. Eccentric, reclusive, or renegade, there's not a
one that wasn't somehow touched by magic.

As the town's successful caterer, Claire has always clung closely to the
Waverleys' roots in their enchanted soil, tending the family garden from
which she makes her much sought-after delicacies. She has everything she
thinks she needs - until one day she finds a vine of ivy creeping into her
garden and knows that everything is about to change.

Then her prodigal sister Sydney arrives with her five-year-old daughter and
a dark secret she hopes to keep well hidden. And suddenly Claire's
carefully tended life is about to run gloriously out of control.

Sarah Addison Allen's beguiling and luminous new novel is sure to cast its
spell over even the most sceptical heart.

From the Back Cover

`Business was doing well, because all the locals knew that
dishes made from the flowers that grew around the apple tree in the
Waverley garden could affect the eater in curious ways. The biscuits with
lilac jelly the Ladies Aid ordered for their meetings once a month gave
them the ability to keep secrets. The fried dandelion buds over
marigold-petal rice, stuffed pumpkin blossoms, and rose-hip soup ensured
your company would notice only the beauty of your home and never the flaws
. . . '

About the Author

Sarah Addison Allen lives in the south, where GARDEN SPELLS AND SOUTHERN BELLES is set.

Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.

Every smiley moon, without fail, Claire dreamed of her childhood.
She always tried to stay awake those nights when the stars winked and the
moon was just a cresting sliver smiling provocatively down at the world,
the way pretty women on vintage billboards used to smile as they sold
cigarettes and limeade. On those nights in the summer, Claire would garden
by the light of the solar-powered footpath lamps, weeding and trimming the
night bloomers - the moon vine and the angel's trumpet, the night jasmine
and the flowering tobacco. Those weren't a party of the Waverley legacy of
edible flowers, but sleepless as she often was, Claire had added flowers to
the garden to give her something to do at night when she was so wound up
that frustration singed the edge of her nightgown and she set tiny fires
with her fingertips.

What she dreamed of was always the same. Long roads like snakes with
no tails. Sleeping in the car at night while her mother met men in bars
and honky-tonks. Being a lookout while her mother stole shampoo and
deodorant and lipstick and sometimes a candy bar for Claire at Shop-and-Gos
around the Midwest. Then, just before she woke up, her sister, Sydney,
always appeared in a halo of light. Lorelei held Sydney and ran to the
Waverley home in Bascom, and the only reason Claire was able to go with
them was because she was holding tight to her mother's leg and wouldn't let

That morning, when Claire woke up in the backyard garden, she tasted
regret in her mouth. With a frown, she spit it out. She was sorry for
the way she'd treated her sister as a child. But the six years of Claire's
life before Sydney's arrival had been fraught with the constant fear of
being caught, of being hurt, of not having enough food or gas or warm
clothes for the winter. Her mother always came through but always at the
last minute. Ultimately, they were never caught and Claire was never hurt
and, when the first cold snap signalled the changing colors of the leaves,
her mother magically produced blue mittens with white snowflakes on them
and pink thermal underwear to wear under jeans and a cap with a droopy ball
on top. That life on the run had been good enough for Claire, but Lorelei
obviously thought Sydney deserved better, that Sydney deserved to be born
with roots. And the small scared child in Claire hadn't been able to
forgive her.

Picking up the clippers and the trowel from the ground beside her, she
stood stiffly and walked in the dawning fog toward the shed. She suddenly
stopped. She turned and looked around. The garden was quiet and damp, the
temperamental apple tree at the back of the lot shivering slightly as if
dreaming. Generations of Waverleys had tended this garden. Their history
was in the soil, but so was their future. Something was about to happen,
something the garden wasn't ready to tell her yet. She would have to keep
a sharp eye out.

She went to the shed and carefully wiped the dew off the old tools
and hung them on their places on the wall. She closed and locked the heavy
gate door to the garden, then crossed the driveway at the back of the
ostentatious Queen Anne-style house she'd inherited from her grandmother.

Claire entered the room through the back, stopping in the sunroom
that had been turned into a drying and cleaning room for herbs and flowers.
It smelled strongly of lavender and peppermint, like walking into a
Christmas memory that didn't belong to her. She drew her dirty white
nightgown over her head, balled in up, and walked naked into the house. It
was going to be a busy day. She had a dinner party to cater that night,
and it was the last Tuesday in May, so she had to deliver her
end-of-the-month shipment of lilac and mint and rose-petal jellies and
nasturtium and chive-blossom vinegars to the farmers' market and to the
gourmet grocery store on the square, where the college kids from Orion
college would hang out after classes.

There was a knock at the door as Claire was pulling her hair back
with combs. She went downstairs in a white eyelet sundress, still
barefooted. When she opened the door, she smiled at the fireplug of an old
lady standing on the porch.

Evanelle Franklin was seventy-nine years old, looked like she as one
hundred and twenty, yet still managed to walk a mile around the track at
Orion five days a week. Evanelle was a distant relation, a second or third
or fourteenth cousin, and she was the only other Waverley still living in
Bascom. Claire stuck to her like static, needing to feel a connection to
family after Sydney took off when she was eighteen and their grandmother
died the same year.

When Claire was young, Evanelle would stop by to give her a
Band-Aid hours before she scraped her knee, quarters for her and Sydney
long before the ice cream truck arrived, and a flashlight to put under her
pillow a full two weeks before lightning struck a tree down the street and
the entire neighbourhood was without power all night. When Evanelle
brought you something, you were usually going to need it sooner or later,
though that cat bed she gave Claire five years ago had yet to find its use.
Most people in town treated Evanelle kindly but with amusement, and even
Evanelle didn't take herself too seriously. But Claire knew there was
always something behind the strange gifts Evanelle brought.

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