By Sarah Addison Allen
A Bantam Book
Sarah Addison Allen is a new to me author but I don’t foresee that being the case for very long. Her style is lyrical, almost poetic, and her characters are amazing creatures of habit that make you love their ways.
Claire Waverly enjoys her quiet life in her family’s old Victorian house in North Carolina, she loves even more the garden out back which produces flowers and herbs and when incorporated into family recipes, can bring about certain feelings in people. A caterer in town, she’s happy to live her quiet life but when her long lost sister Sydney shows up with her five year old daughter, Bay, her life is thrown into a new orbit. She’s no longer the sole keeper of the house, her sister is keeping some secret she won’t share, and Bay shows budding family traits of the Waverly women — magical powers of a sort with flowers and an ability to know where everything and everyone belongs. Sydney keeps fighting her Waverly roots but soon starts to realize that she’s going to need to embrace who she is.
I don’t want to gush all over this book but I’m going to. Claire and Sydney are sisters who don’t act like it but there is a love between them and when it grows it’s almost as lovely as the garden. Next door, a new neighbor, Tyler, brings love to Claire and she’s a woman whose life is sorely in need of human contact, even if he is a little bit too pushy for my taste. Sydney is a woman hurting from an abusive relationship and she doesn’t want to share anything for fear that she and her daughter might be found. It’s a story of family, love, strength, and learning to embrace life and who you are. It doesn’t feel odd even for all of its magical elements. Addison Allen infuses just enough to make it work but she doesn’t make it overbearing or the focus of the story. It all works. Magical realism can sometimes over compensate for other story elements but here is all feels right; just life with a little extra.
This is one I highly recommend. If Sarah Addison Allen is a new to you author, read this one.