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4.4 out of 5 stars
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4.4 out of 5 stars
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on 23 August 2015
This is the first Sarah Addison Allen book I read, and I have visited this book many times since I first read it, and never fails to enchant me each time (as well as increase my desire to visit the south of Allens books). Claire and Sydney are two sisters, complete opposites, with a big age gap which meant that growing up they had not been close to each other. Sydney runs away from the Waverleys - a surname which means something in the small town of Bascom. Waverley women have always been different, and magical, and each have had a small magical gift which manifests in different ways. The house they live in, and its surrounding garden has been in the family for generations and also has magical qualities meaning people trust and mistrust the Waverleys. Sydney just wanted to be normal and as a teen she was, until disaster struck and she took off, returning a decade later, running from an abusive ex, and returning to a place where all her bridges have been burnt.

This is a tale of coming home, of building bridges, of sibling rivalry and understand and of the tiniest hint of magic.

I would really recommend this to those who wish to escape to another world, and relax for a while. This book is really like taking a bubble bath - relaxing, and luxurious and you leave it feeling refreshed. This is recommended to all who like books by Addison Allen.
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on 4 August 2007
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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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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on 28 February 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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VINE VOICEon 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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TOP 500 REVIEWERon 21 February 2015
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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on 24 October 2013
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. It does have parallels with Practical Magic, but actually I found that book a very difficult read and couldn't finish it, it was one of those rare times that the film was better than the book! By contrast Garden Spells was a feast - in all senses! It will have you reaching for food whilst you read. I always put on weight when I read Sarah's books, you've been warned :)
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on 26 March 2016
An enchanting, quirky and magical read. I liked the southern charm that came across in the story, from the homemade cooking laden with magic spells to a story of love and fate. I would like a magic apple tree in my garden. A magical fairytale for adults.
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on 10 August 2013
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. Nevertheless is remains a beautiful book, a great read the characters are interesting and three dimensional, not to mention how pretty the cover is! :-)
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on 30 October 2013
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. Sarah Addison Allen does not disappoint with the mystical and the romantic in the unfolding of daily life. Highly recommend
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