Sunday, October 9, 2011

Garden Spells

"She was so Southern that she cried tears that came straight from the Mississippi, and she always smelled faintly of cottonwood and peaches."

Sarah Addison Allen calls her style of writing "Southern-fried magic realism" and it is as delicious as Southern-fried cookin'. Her use of magical realism appeals to the whimsical in me. She creates such beautiful, vivid worlds that make me think that maybe--just maybe--magic could happen in my own ordinary world, too. 

Have you ever seen a low-hanging cloud that inexplicably clings to a hillside or just one end of a street? In Garden Spells, Claire is so consumed by unconsummated passion that when she showers, a fog shrouds her neighborhood, produced by the cool water hitting her heated skin. Now we know what's happening--or not happening--to explain that clingy fog you see sometimes. (Read this book and you will find explanations for other everyday phenomena.)

The Waverley women all possess certain magical qualities. Claire cooks food with her homegrown edible flowers that prompt certain emotions. If you consume her chicken salad in zucchini blossoms, you will possess new understanding. Honeysuckle wine helps you see in the dark, and naturally, also helps you see things in a new light. Bay knows where everything belongs... from socks and spoons to who belongs with whom. And Evanelle has the gift of anticipation. If she gives you a lighter, put it in your pocket, because rest assured that next week you'll need it to light the cigarette of the man of your dreams (don't worry, he's cutting back). And if she gives a child an old spoon, he might use it to dig in the dirt for something shiny, find a quarter, use it to go to the movies and there meet a little girl in pigtails who will become his future wife. And the garden behind the old Waverley home in the mountains of North Carolina produces more than just edible flowers: an emotional apple tree alternately broods and comforts, throws apples and predicts destinies. 

Allen's books are entrancing and fun and I love that the characters she introduces us to and makes us love are in good hands. She takes care of everyone: broken relationships are restored, new friendships are forged, strength is found, love blooms. This book was a treat; I'll definitely read Allen's other two novels. Sara and I read The Peach Keeper earlier this year and it was also delightful, with similar themes of going home, facing the past, and finding love in unexpected places. 

Grade: 4/5 stars

P.S.- Is this cover not gorgeous?


Anonymous said...

Ahh, I did this one too! Love her magical's like curling up in a comfie chair with a nice cup of coffee...or wine ;) Something to sink into and be delighted by *sigh*

rachelkiwi said...

you're right! it is comforting and... um, magical. :)

i just wish her books lasted longer, cause they are so fun!