Sunday, January 30, 2011

Review: Garden Spells, by Sarah Addison Allen (2008)

Garden Spells by Sarah Addison Allen:

The tree was situated toward the back of the lot. It wasn't very tall, but it grew long and sideways. Its limbs stretched out like a dancer's arms and the apples grew at the very ends, as if holding the fruit in its palms. It was a beautiful old tree, the gray bark wrinkled and molting in places. The only grass in the garden was around the tree, stretching about ten feet beyond the reach of its branches, giving the old tree its room.

Claire didn't know why, but every once in a while the tree would actually throw apples, as if bored. When she was young, her bedroom window looked out over the garden. She would sleep with her window open in the summers, and sometimes she would wake in the morning to find one or two apples on the floor.

Claire gave the tree a stern look. Occasionally that worked, making it behave.

Synopsis: Two sisters bring their secrets to the old ancestral home and cause all kinds of magical upheaval in a small North Carolina town.

(Not about food per se, but being fed)

Beach reading. That's what this is, beach reading. It's sunny and light and romantic and...uplifting. This book has not one iota of dark in it, despite the fact that one sister is on the run with her daughter from an abusive, controlling boyfriend, and one's an emotional shut-in. Everyone gets what they want, and moreover, what they need, which is rarely the same thing. There's also a wonderful little old lady wandering around giving people things without knowing why, and eventually she attracts a passel of wistful gay men looking for love. Which is how life should be, I feel.

When Claire Waverly's grandmother died, Claire stepped right into her footsteps and turned the family's magical recipes into a catering business, bringing the people of Bascom fine, gourmet charmed foods. After all, cooking and hiding in the Waverly mansion, tending the magic garden and resolutely refusing to interact with the rest of the world are what Claire does best. Right up until her prodigal sister Sydney returns, bruised and shaken, with her daughter Bay in tow. And then there's the staunchly oblivious, madly in love artist who's moved in next door.

So, I've seen this book listed as culinary fiction on more than a few sites, but for me this isn't a book about food per se, but being fed, and who you let feed you. Technically, there's food everywhere in the book, and yet no one really seems to eat, unless it's narratively important. A nifty trick, but one that wears thin about the middle of the book. It's a good thing that Allen can back up the relatively light weight of the narrative with prose that positively sparkles, leaping right off the page.

This house is haunted in a *good* way.

No comments:

Post a Comment