This book was like fresh flannel sheets on a cold morning. It was like a hot mug of cider on a crisp fall day. It was like a basket of sleepy kittensThis book was like fresh flannel sheets on a cold morning. It was like a hot mug of cider on a crisp fall day. It was like a basket of sleepy kittens dozing in the sun. In short - it was the kind of book I just wanted to snuggle up with.
I've read Sarah Addison Allen's books before, but not the first Waverley book (Garden Spells). This book works perfectly well as a stand-alone, although no one else should be as foolish as I about skipping over a Waverley story.
Allen's signature themes of family, love, quirky towns, and touches of magic are all encapsulated in First Frost. The Waverley family has always been known as magical and eccentric - Sydney gives haircuts that can change your day, her sister Claire cooks up delicious treats that influence your emotions, and Sydney's teenage daughter Bay knows exactly where everything belongs.
My favorite character by far (besides the temperamental, mulish apple tree in the Waverley mansion's backyard) was Bay. She was mature, centered, and thoughtful, and way more together than either her mother or her aunt (who are prone to worry themselves silly over things instead of asking for help). Bay is probably one of the most likeable, grounded teenage heroines I have come across and it is blessedly refreshing. While Claire and Sydney found their loves in the first book (or so I assume that's when it happened), Bay is dealing with first love. She knows that she fits with popular boy Josh, but he has steadfastly ignored her since she wrote him a note. Bay's unhappy and awkward about the situation, but she handles it amazingly gracefully for a teenager. Bay and Josh's relationship was cute, and I wish there was more written about it - maybe a sequel? Everything is wrapped up into a happily ever after (this is an SAA novel), but there's enough to hint that another Waverley novel could happen. Which I would absolutely adore. ...more
The first 30% of this book I was totally on board with.
The book opens in 1815, with Julia Percy, and her time-stopping dying grandfather. This openinThe first 30% of this book I was totally on board with.
The book opens in 1815, with Julia Percy, and her time-stopping dying grandfather. This opening was good - I sensed a lot of potential from the plot and the writing and I liked that it looked like it was going to be a historically probable novel (I mean, this is a book about time travelling, so I didn't think it was likely to be historically accurate, but it seemed like research and time was spent on getting a 19th century "feel").
And then it switched over to Nick Davenant, née Lord Nicholas, the Marquess of Falcott. He blinked forward in time from The Battle of Salmanca in 1812 to 2003. He finds himself part of the mysterious Guild, a secret organization by time travelers for time travelers. After an intense luxury assimilation training, every new Guild member receives 2 million pounds a year. Somehow, no one is suspicious of this shit. Like, seriously!?!? Does this not sound too good to be true?!? “Hello new time traveler! We’re giving you 2 million pounds a year and in return we want NOTHING from you!” Obviously something is up.
And part of the something that is up is that the Guild lies to its members, telling them that can only jump forward in time, never backward. After finally assimilating to the 21st century and enjoying his life of luxury, Nick is summoned by the Guild and told that not only can he go backward in time - he has to go back to 1815. Because there is a McGuffin somewhere in the past that the Guild hopes will divert a disastrous future. See, there is a future date - a date that is getting closer and closer all the time - that is the farthest future point into which time travelers can travel. And that future date is a violent, chaotic, possibly world-destroying time. It's the future no one wants to happen. So, like The Terminator, someone (here, Nick) must travel to the past to save the future.
Nick goes back to his own time period and resumes his old life, and recovers some of the arrogant dickery that he had during that period. He also re-establishes his flame for Julia Percy, who he met once and then obsessed about forever for no real reason (she's really, really pretty, guys).
At about this point, the novel switches from being a fun, awesome, interesting book about time travel to a romance novel by any other name. Because Nick spends some time trying to take down the Guild and find this McGuffin, but he mostly obsesses over JULIA PERCY. And Julia Percy, despite being a sheltered 19th century noblewoman (albeit one with an eccentric grandfather), acts likes a modern woman. Julia and Nick sleep together, and although Julia is a virgin and should know that this act has every possibility of destroying her future forever (this is the NINETEENTH CENTURY PEOPLE), feels very little quandary over having sex outside of marriage and of course has an amazing, soul-shaking first time. Because, right.
I mean, if Julia is so sure of Nick's love for her, and they are of the same class so there’s no reason they couldn’t get married, why doesn't she angle to just marry Nick, like most nineteenth century women would? Or at least get an engagement before getting into physical relations with him? I think Nick has some weird hangup about his time traveling or whatever for romantic complication purposes, so he refuses to propose to Julia. But Julia seems to have no thoughts as to marriage and its importance - even though that was the sole aim of women of her class and time.
This book was about 100 pages too long and the plot became more simplistic and less interesting as it went along (and Julia and Nick are no great love story, just a case of lust-at-first-sight). But I'm still interested in where the story is going overall and am in for the second book. ...more
Sarah Addison Allen’s books are always quiet little tales of magic, love, and healing filled with quirky characters in beautiful, small communities. ASarah Addison Allen’s books are always quiet little tales of magic, love, and healing filled with quirky characters in beautiful, small communities. Although it is a bit formulaic/repetitive – you know what you’re getting out of a Sarah Addison Allen book before you go in – I still found it soothing and charming. It was a much-needed break from heavier literature.
Newly widowed Kate is trying to recover from the grief of her husband’s death. Her eccentric eight-year-old daughter Devin has been cared for by her strict mother-in-law while Kate has been in a fog of grief. When Kate finally comes back to herself, she takes Devin to her Aunt Eby’s place at Lost Lake Cottages in remote Georgia – Kate has only been there once, but it was one of the best summers of her life.
Aunt Eby also lost her beloved husband. Luckily, she’s surrounded by a cast of kind but odd characters at Lost Lake. There’s Lisette, a Frenchwoman who Eby and her husband rescued on their honeymoon. A tragedy in Lisette’s past has made her decide to be mute. There's also Selma and Bulahdeen, two elderly ladies who have an odd couple friendship – complete opposite personalities who frequently clash, but who spend every summer together.
When Kate arrives, she reconnects with Wes, a summer crush who has been carrying a flame for her for years. He owns a pizza parlor/repair place, and he is haunted by the tragic death of his brother in a fire.
The relationships are really the plot here, but SAA adds some additional tension with an evil developer who wants to buy Lost Lake Cottages. Will Eby sell? Will all the prospective couples get together? Will everyone heal from their grief? If you don't know the answers to those questions already, then you haven't read an SAA novel before.
SAA's novels are women's fiction with a kiss of magical realism. Lost Lake is fairly light on the magical aspect, but it does have Selma's charms that attract men and Devin's friendship with a suspiciously helpful alligator (only in an SAA book is a child making friends with a creature with ridiculously sharp teeth an event that ends with everyone's heart warmed, not with a bloody, mangled mess). ...more
You, sir, are no Rebecca. This is like some cheap mass-market paperback knock-off.
There were two stories, both equally boring. Benedicte was the formYou, sir, are no Rebecca. This is like some cheap mass-market paperback knock-off.
There were two stories, both equally boring. Benedicte was the former owner, who has a psychopath younger brother. The other one is Eve, who is whisked off to this farmhouse in France by her secretive lover, Dom, whose ex-wife remains mostly a mystery (is she alive? is she dead? did he kill her?). Plus, in the current day there is a host of missing girls in the area, which is supposed to make you suspicious of Dom but guess what? (view spoiler)[He had nothing to do with anything and some of the girls weren’t even really missing (they were just run aways or failed to communicate properly). So annoying. (hide spoiler)] It wasn’t properly exciting and the characters were as shallow as plates....more