Thursday, June 26, 2014
Garden Spells by Sarah Addison Allen: DNF
Published April 2008 by Random House Publishing Group
Source: my audiobook copy purchased at my local library book sale
he Waverleys have always been a curious family, endowed with peculiar gifts that make them outsiders even in their hometown of Bascom, North Carolina. Even their garden has a reputation, famous for its feisty apple tree that bears prophetic fruit, and its edible flowers, imbued with special powers. Generations of Waverleys tended this garden. Their history was in the soil. But so were their futures.
A successful caterer, Claire Waverley prepares dishes made with her mystical plants—from the nasturtiums that aid in keeping secrets and the pansies that make children thoughtful, to the snapdragons intended to discourage the attentions of her amorous neighbor. Meanwhile, her elderly cousin, Evanelle, is known for distributing unexpected gifts whose uses become uncannily clear. They are the last of the Waverleys—except for Claire’s rebellious sister, Sydney, who fled Bascom the moment she could, abandoning Claire, as their own mother had years before.
When Sydney suddenly returns home with a young daughter of her own, Claire’s quiet life is turned upside down—along with the protective boundary she has so carefully constructed around her heart. Together again in the house they grew up in, Sydney takes stock of all she left behind, as Claire struggles to heal the wounds of the past. And soon the sisters realize they must deal with their common legacy—if they are ever to feel at home in Bascom—or with each other.
I know there are a lot of Sarah Addison Allen fans out there. After reading one of her books and giving this one a shot, I'm sorry to say I'm not one of them. You all know how rare it is for me to give up on a book but after listening to three of seven discs of this audio book, I pulled the plug.
I struggle with magical realism in any book. It's hard for me to suspend disbelief and buy into plants with magical properties and a family with special gifts. But I can with the right book in my hands (Chocolat by Joanne Harris, for example) where the characters are well developed and the story line is unique. There was nothing particularly interesting or unique in Garden Spells for me and the characters felt one-dimensional.
There's an interesting review of Garden Spells on bn.com. As I started reading it, I had to keep looking back to the four-star rating and title, "Magical." There appeared to be nothing the reviewer liked about this book until you got halfway through the review when the reviewer basically said "if you can get by all of that, this book is fun." I couldn't as far as I read and I wasn't willing to give it any more of my time. I'd be interested to hear by Allen's fans thought of this one.