I really loved her first two books (The Sugar Queen and Garden Spells)and couldn’t wait to read this latest offering, knowing that it would be a good story tinged with a tiny bit of magic. Once again this is set in a Southern town with characters, history, secrets, and a little magic. Emily is a teenager whose mother has recently died. She’s never been to her mother’s hometown, nor met her grandfather, but she has no one left so that is where she must now live. Julia grew up in the town, moved away and had to return when her own father died, but she set a strict two year maximum deadline in place and can’t wait to leave. Emily has always known her mother to be strong, independent, moral, and an activist. But she finds that no one in town remembers her that way, and furthermore they hold her (and by extension, her daughter) responsible for a tragedy.
Julia also has to contend with her past in the town being very different with her life as it is now. Julia knew Emily’s mother and so takes Emily under her wing. There are some romantic storylines tangled up with mysterious secrets from the past. I liked this very much, though I have to say not quite as much as the other two novels. There is quite a bit of build up for a family’s secret that, when revealed, I just didn’t think was that shocking. But I can overlook that because I liked the storytelling.
Wow, I meant to post this immediately following the ALA Midwinter Meeting and time has just gotten away from me. A few places to point you and me, when looking for new things to read:
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What a happy birthday celebration I had a couple weeks ago! And while my lovely friends gave me marvelous gifts, at the end of the evening I was most excited to get into bed and start reading this pre-pub Mary Lynn gave me with my gifts. She knew how much I’d loved Garden Spells and this is the next book out by this author. (Like the joke books, it also contributed to me not reading the book club book-must be a better club participant this month!) Like Garden Spells, this book has magical qualities about it, and a nice story. I was enchanted by it. I kept looking for links to the first book-a reference to a character perhaps, or the location?—but I believe there were none. It’s just another town where people seem to have various “gifts”. As this was a prepub and the book is not out yet (May 2008), I really don’t want to give away much, but I will say that the style and storytelling were just as nice in the first book and I really enjoyed it. I look forward to more books by her!
I rarely browse the shelve anymore, so it was a delight this weekend to go the library and have the opportunity to just come across good looking books. These days I pretty much only read things I have read about or had recommended to me and I just put them on hold. I certainly read a lot of good things, but I do miss just finding books that I like unexpectedly. This was on the new shelves at the library (though I see it came out last summer and already the paperback is coming out later this spring) and it attracted me with its beautiful cover.
What a charming charming book!! The main character, Claire, comes from an old mysterious Southern family. The family home has a walled garden with an apple tree in it that all the locals know about. The apple tree bears fruit all spring and summer and the apples, if eaten, give the eater a vision of the biggest event of his or her life. They are careful not to eat the apples. All the herbs and flowers that grow around the apple tree have special properties as well. Claire has cultivated this into a successful catering business. For example, a ladies group that has her cater their luncheons has her incorporate the ingredients which will make you keep a secret. Want to see in the dark? Drink some of the honeysuckle wine. Claire’s elderly cousin, Evanelle, had a gift (all the Waverly women have a gift of some sort) that I found a highlight of the story. She will be overcome with a need to give a person something in particular. And then, sooner or later, you will have need of that particular item in a way that will affect your life.
The overall story concerns Claire’s somewhat estranged sister returning home to escape an abusive partner. Both women gradually restore their relationship and also find love with others.
This was a lovely sweet story, I loved the magical elements and the way the stories wove together. Very satisfying!!