I happened upon this book like with all my audio books, at the library. I didn’t know what to expect, having never read anything by Sarah Addison Allen, and I was blown away. I loved her story telling, and I felt drawn into the magic of the garden. Garden Spells is the story of a woman named Claire Waverley, who is a bit of an outcast/oddity in her small town in the Outer Banks of North Carolina. She lives alone in her late grandmother’s house where she and her sister were raised, after their mother abandoned them. Her sister Sydney following in her mother’s footsteps, has long since skipped town, and Claire hasn’t heard from her in over ten years.
The Waverley’s are a legend in their town, known for their odd garden, which sports an apple tree that is rumored to be magical, and the women in the family who each have special gifts. Claire’s elderly cousin Evanelle has a compulsion to give people things, which turn out to be exactly what they didn’t know they needed. Claire has a gift for cooking and baking, and she turns that gift into a successful catering company. Her food uses edible flowers and plants from her garden, and when cooked in a specific way, contain a little bit of magic. Pansies for keeping children thoughtful, nasturtiums for helping to keep secrets, roses for love, and so on.
Claire’s life is going along just fine, even though it’s a bit lonely for her. Then Sydney unexpectantly shows up on her doorstep with a daughter of her own, seeking refuge from her abusive ex, and Claire’s whole world turns upside down.
This book gives an old fashioned magical element to it’s romances. I love that there’s a little bit of magic in an otherwise everyday story. When Claire gets mad she literally wilts plants with the heat fumes coming off her. When her neighbor Roger falls in love with her, he has little purple lights coming off of him that only the Waverly’s can see. It adds a fun element to the book, and it left me wanting to read more by Allen.