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Garden Spells (Waverley Family #1)

4.06 of 5 stars 4.06  ·  rating details  ·  60,321 ratings  ·  7,560 reviews
In a garden surrounded by a tall fence, tucked away behind a small, quiet house in an even smaller town, is an apple tree that is rumored to bear a very special sort of fruit. In this luminous debut novel, Sarah Addison Allen tells the story of that enchanted tree, and the extraordinary people who tend it.…

The Waverleys have always been a curious family, endowed with pecu
Paperback, 290 pages
Published April 29th 2008 by Bantam Discovery (first published January 1st 2007)
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Chicken soup when you're sick. Chocolate when you're hormonal. Lavender for your bathroom. Citrus for the kitchen. Pumpkin pie at Thanksgiving. Peppermint at Christmas time.

This book completely spoke my language - that of food and how we are connected to what we serve, eat and order. We may not be able to put magic into our cooking, but as a mother I know there are certain things to feed my family for certain reasons, and that can be sort of a form of magic (at least to the little child in bed w
Apr 15, 2008 Grace rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: fans of Practical Magic
Yes, this book is definitely reminsicent of Practical Magic in plotline. I can't imagine anyone not thinking so...a beautiful old house, two magical sisters whose mother died when they were young, one practical and a homebody, the other a wild woman with a daughter who comes back home to escape an abusive man. Um...sounds familiar. Very.


The author creates an amazing atmosphere, and the basics of the plot may be the same, but the details are entirely new and lovely. The aunt Evanelle is an abs
Posted at Shelf Inflicted

For generations, the Waverly family has made their home in Bascom, North Carolina. Each of the Waverly women possesses a unique magic which has made them a curiosity in the town, but their oddness also keeps others at a distance. Claire is a caterer who uses the enchanted herbs and flowers in her garden to prepare exquisite dishes that affect the eater's feelings. Claire’s aunt, Evanelle, gives odd and random gifts that she knows the recipient will need in the future. He
Kristin (KC)
*3.5 Stars*

I’ll keep this review short, and—in the spirit of this adorable story—sweet.

Garden Spells offered the perfect magical escape I was searching for. The writing was exquisite and the plot—enchanting. This book did sort of feel like a cross between Practical Magic and Sleeping with the Enemy, as many readers have mentioned, but it certainly offered a unique enough spin in its storytelling.

The element of magic was handled with care and executed to perfection: not too far-out there, but so
So good, I read it twice. There is a great sense of place for this book, the imagery is truly enchanting and visceral. What I really like about the novel is how grounded in reality it is, making the magic seem entirely plausible in its subtlety. The pain and drama of the characters make them three dimensional and completely relatable.

I was left with only two questions:
1. Is there a sequel to this?
2. If not, why the hell isn't there?!

ETA February 2015: There is a sequel! Special thanks to Christi
3.5 Stars

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The Waverleys of Bascom, North Carolina have always been considered strange by their neighbors, what with Claire’s skill in whipping up delectable dishes from flowers with magical attributes, Evanelle’s sudden compulsion to give mundane presents that eventually become useful in the near future, and Claire’s uncanny ability to choose the hairstyle apropos for the person’s situation. A decade ago, Sydney ran as far away as she can from Bascom, while Claire stayed home to carry on the fami
Dec 06, 2007 Erin rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: women...and men who appreciate magic
What I learned from this book is...if an apple tree throws its apples at you, for goodness sake, pay attention already!

This book is lovely, magical, enchanting. I sat down to read just one chapter, basically to decide whether it was worth holding onto even though it was already overdue. At 2:30 a.m. I finished the whole darn thing. Couldn't stop myself. I floated in a state of suspended reality, where time had no meaning.

The basic idea of the book: two sisters experienced their childhoods very
It is really difficult for me to find a book that suits me. I love stories, and I love to read. Since I don’t have a lot of time to read, I have to be really picky. Which means, if it hasn’t grabbed my attention early on, I normally don’t continue.

When I saw Garden Spells on the shelves in the book store I immediately wanted to read it because of the cover, the title and the blurb. I knew for sure that this was a book that I had to read.

I was so excited when I sat down and opened the book. Perha
Diane Librarian
Sometimes you just want to read a book with a happy ending. This is not a novel I would recommend to others, and yet, I enjoyed its sweetness.

"Garden Spells" is the story of Claire and Sydney Waverley, two estranged sisters in Bascom, North Carolina. Claire is a gifted caterer who knows how to create special dishes, and she is surprised when Sydney and her daughter, Bay, suddenly show up on her doorstep needing a place to stay. Sydney's arrival stirs up some drama among her former friends, and C
Set in North Carolina, we explore the lives of the Waverly women and their strangeness in a community where everyone has their expectations for the long family lines native to the area. The Waverley's have a garden where an enchanted apple tree grows and Claire masterfully creates foods with properties that do more than tantalize the taste buds. The ideas behind this are great and this first novel for Sarah Addison Allen might be a fun summer read for someone less picky than me. While I enjoyed ...more
In Bascom, North Carolina, everyone is destined to live up to their family name. Clark women are lascivious femme fatales, Mattesons will be wealthy and put family duty first, Hopkins men always marry older women, and the females of the Waverley clan always manifest a quaint magical talent. Fate is heavy-handed in Bascom. There's no escaping your name and there's no escaping your heritage, even though Sydney Waverley, just like her mother before her, has tried.

Sydney grew up a Waverley, but didn
Sometimes you just need a good enchanting fantasy with humor, heart and charming loveable characters. I enjoyed the differnt points of view and the revealing look into their personal jouney for love, strength and fulfillment. It captured everyday loss, pain, and personal growth and twisted in the perfect touch of whimsy.
There is a unique magical apple tree that grows in the Waverly's back garden and each Waverly woman or girl has an special gift to share with the little town of Bascom, North Ca


"Take one man, one foolish woman, put them in a bowl and stir."

I loved this! Some kind of review to come in a few days after I catch up with everything GR I've missed for the last 5 days while I was not around.
This book is completely twee and unoriginal, and I am a little embarrassed to be reading it. It's the literary equivalent of eating a whole box of cookies -- but not even good cookies, more like Snackwell's. Mediocre and unsatisfying.

(And yet I am reading it anyway.)

Now that I've finished it, I can say definitively that the barrage of five-star reviews for this book kind of makes me lose my faith in humanity. Even if you like this kind of writing, it is so clearly a wholesale ripoff of "Practica
Fascinating premise, ineptly implemented.

The author is a graduate of the Octavia Butler/Rosie Lyons School of Literature which features victims instead of protagonists.

Shamelessly manipulative.

The family of witches in a magic garden is a great setting for a novel. It is pathetic that the author could not do any better than this.
Florence (Lefty) MacIntosh
With the Bascom, Carolina setting adding that element of Southern charm, this is just a gentle feel-good story about longing for a safe place and learning to trust. Prefer when the fantasy aspect isn’t heavy-handed; that a garden would be full of mystical elements wasn’t a stretch for me at all! Allen blends in the magic with the softest touch.
It’s about the developing relationship between two entirely different sisters and there struggle to find common ground. The romance with the new men in t
Garden Spells tells the story of two gifted sisters: Claire Waverley, a successful caterer in their hometown who has a decidedly magical touch with food, and Sydney, the younger sister who left town at an early age only to run into trouble forcing her to return to Bascom, North Carolina with her six year old daughter, Bay. Sydney left her hometown in an attempt to run from what it means to be a Waverley, and the magical gifts they have, as well as from the heartbreak caused by the breakup with h ...more
Heather Ormsby
Well, this is tricky. I really enjoyed the book. I enjoyed it the first time I read it when it was called "Practical Magic" by Alice Hoffman. Was it plagiarism? I'm not sure - that's for Hoffman's lawyers to decide, but if you enjoyed the following things about Hoffman's book, then you'll enjoy this one:
- a lovely garden where the plants grow in an atmosphere of magical realism, out of time and season.
- two sisters who seem polar opposites, who suffered the loss of their mother at a young age an
“She was a Waverley, and Waverley’s were an odd bunch, each in his or her own way.”

This is the second time I’ve read this book and I really enjoyed it, I loved the magic, the quirks, and the ending was just so sweet!

I really liked the characters in this book, and I loved how the Waverley’s all had their own special gift, whether it be cooking or something more obtuse. I loved Evanelle’s gift most though, randomly having to give things to people! Even embarrassing things! But I just loved her,
Garden Spells is delightful and magical. It is the story of two sisters who are reunited, one of them returning home after leaving an abusive situation. Both sisters possess magical abilities.

The characters are colorful. The romance is tender and romantic. I enjoyed the descriptions of baking and gardening and how the two intersect. The small town setting, the herbal potions and a magical apple tree only make the story more charming. It was resminiscent of Practical Magic, yet more romantic and
Bethany Clark
What an magical book...I loved Lost Lake and I believe that I love Garden Spells just as much. The characters are so real yet magical and mystical at the same time. Sarah has such an amazing ability to create deep characters with so much emotion - they just draw you in and you love each and every one of them.
The Waverly women are such strong women, even if they don't quite know that about themselves right away.
The story takes place in Bascom, North Carolina in a quaint home with an amazing gard
Ποια συνταγή περιλαμβάνει δύο αδερφές, που η μια δεν ανήκει πουθενά, ενώ η άλλη έχει ριζώσει σταθερά σε ένα μέρος; Τι γεύση παίρνει αυτή η συνταγή όταν προστίθενται σε αυτήν μια γριά που μοιράζει απρόσμενα δώρα, ένας άβουλος gay, 2 ερωτοχτυπημένοι νέοι και ένα μικρό κορίτσι που ξέρει τον προορισμό του κάθε αντικειμένου έμψυχου ή μη; Προσθέστε και πολλά πολλά μαγικά μήλα από μια πανέξυπνη, επιθετική μηλιά και voilà, έτοιμη η συνταγή. Ένα ανάλαφρο, φρέσκο ανάγνωσμα που σε παρασύρει σε έναν κόσμο, ...more
May 28, 2008 Bonnie rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: those looking for an easy and enchanting read
Recommended to Bonnie by: Barnes & Noble
I saw Sarah Addison Allen's new book "Sugar Queen" at Barnes & Noble and thought it looked interesting, but was unwilling to pay the price for a hardback book on an untried author. So, instead I picked up "Garden Spells" because of its beautiful cover and interesting synopsis. I'm VERY glad I did.

The story and the magic were...well...magical...and enchanting. I love gardens and books where people have green thumbs, unlike myself. The garden is a main character in this story, specifically th
Lisa Kay
Who would have thought I’d like a book about an apple tree with an attitude , but even it wormed its way into my heart in this charming story of two sisters.

In fact, I loved all the enchanting Waverley females: Claire and Sydney, who were never close in childhood, but are discovering the true meaning of sisterhood. Their distant cousin (“second or third or fourteenth cousin”) Evanelle, who at seventy-nine, still feels a strange compulsion to give people things she knows they will eventually nee
Original post at One More Page

I've heard so many good things about Garden Spells by Sarah Addison Allen, but it took me a while before I acquired it and even some more time before I decided to read it. Every now and then, there's a book that comes along and takes you in and makes you comfortable with every page. They're those books that you just sink into effortlessly, almost like it was an old friend welcoming you with warm food after a long day's travel. I am very, very glad to say that Gar
Christine (AR)
Two sisters deal with being magical in a small town. Practical Magic by way of Allende.

I don't care if this is almost the same story as Practical Magic; I thought it was lovely. A very fast read, very prettily written, and it has some absolutely beautiful moments. Really nice.
To sum up GARDEN SPELLS with a sentence from the story: "You are who you are, whether you like it or not, so why not like it?"

This whimsical women's fiction has a little of everything. Relationships with insecurities, the character-driven townspeople and some homespun magic. It is about an apple tree that blooms in the winter and throws apples when it feels like it. An elderly woman that gifts everyday items to various townspeople for a purpose: an explanation that will come to the receiver some
Margaret Oneal
Feb 03, 2008 Margaret Oneal rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: adult readers, women, fantasy lovers
Recommended to Margaret by: Bell, Book and Candle Bookstore
I wasn't sure I was going to like this book... but then I never am. That seems to the mantra that I open every book with: distrust of the author's skill, interests, etc. I was encouraged early on by the author's gift for language... Bits like "She was so Southern that she cried tears that came straight from the Mississipi...", and "Memories, even hard memories, grew soft like peaches as they got older."

Ah, you're thinking that this is one of those dreary Southern rites of passage books, one of t
What a fun read, not great literature but a smart, enjoyable story of relationship awakenings. This had been on my TBR list for a long time because I'm not really into chick-lit, but, I think this was more than that. Just an overall good story of two estranged sisters trying to move forward in their lives after experiencing a pretty rough childhood. It was not sappy at all but there was a pretty feisty apple tree involved and some very quirky characters.

As always Susan Ericksen did excellent jo
In a small southern town, Claire Waverly runs a catering business out of her small family farm, but her quiet, secure life is turned upside down, when a new next-door neighbor moves in, at the same time that her footloose, wilder younger sister Sydney comes home. Sydney is on the run from an abusive ex, and she and her six-year-old daughter Bay need a place to hide and recover. But Sydney's history, both in the town and out of it, has a way of catching up on her. This book is basically about rel ...more
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New York Times Bestselling novelist Sarah Addison Allen brings the full flavor of her southern upbringing to bear on her fiction -- a captivating blend of magical realism, heartwarming romance, and small-town sensibility.

Born and raised in Asheville, North Carolina, in the heart of the Blue Ridge Mountains, Allen grew up with a love of books and an appreciation of good food (she credits her journa
More about Sarah Addison Allen...

Other Books in the Series

Waverley Family (2 books)
  • First Frost (Waverley Family, #2)
The Peach Keeper The Girl Who Chased the Moon The Sugar Queen Lost Lake First Frost (Waverley Family, #2)

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“You are who you are, whether you like it or not, so why not like it?” 169 likes
“She looked like autumn, when leaves turned and fruit ripened.” 148 likes
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