Sarah Addison Allen is now one of my favorite authors. I love her writing too much for her not to be. This is the second of her novels I’ve read and again I devoured the story as if hungering for it for days. It’s a sweet story. I enjoyed reading it, and I loved the characters and the town it’s set in for how quirky they are.
Magical realism; Romance
Waverley Family, book 2
It’s October in Bascom, North Carolina, and autumn will not go quietly. As temperatures drop and leaves begin to turn, the Waverley women are made restless by the whims of their mischievous apple tree… and all the magic that swirls around it. But this year, first frost has much more in store.
Claire Waverley has started a successful new venture, Waverley’s Candies. Though her handcrafted confections — rose to recall lost love, lavender to promote happiness and lemon verbena to soothe throats and minds — are singularly effective, the business of selling them is costing her the everyday joys of her family, and her belief in her own precious gifts.
Sydney Waverley, too, is losing her balance. With each passing day she longs more for a baby — a namesake for her wonderful Henry. Yet the longer she tries, the more her desire becomes an unquenchable thirst, stealing the pleasure out of the life she already has.
Sydney’s daughter, Bay, has lost her heart to the boy she knows it belongs to… if only he could see it, too. But how can he, when he is so far outside her grasp that he appears to her as little more than a puff of smoke?
When a mysterious stranger shows up and challenges the very heart of their family, each of them must make choices they have never confronted before. And through it all, the Waverley sisters must search for a way to hold their family together through their troublesome season of change, waiting for that extraordinary event that is First Frost.
Lose yourself in Sarah Addison Allen’s enchanting world and fall for her charmed characters in this captivating story that proves that a happily-ever-after is never the real ending to a story. It’s where the real story begins. (Goodreads)
First Frost picks up 10 years after Garden Spells. Claire, who now manages a successful candy business, has been married to Tyler for about that long, and they have a daughter, Mariah, who seems to lack the talents and eccentricities the other Waverleys possess. Sydney and Henry have a great marriage and reside on Henry’s farm with Sydney’s now 15-year-old daughter, Bay, but Sydney yearns to have another child who will carry on the Young name. And Bay, young Bay who knows where every thing and person belongs, even herself, is in love with a boy who doesn’t even know she exists. Meanwhile dear Evanelle has gotten older and slower and relies more on Fred to help her deliver things she knows people will need.
I missed these characters and was glad to return to them in this book, to revisit the Waverley house and once again read about the spirited apple tree in their backyard that bears prophetic fruit. The first novel, Garden Spells, sees Sydney return to town and the plot focus on the repercussions of that. Similarly, First Frost is about the effects of someone who recently appeared in the area, a circus magician and con artist formerly known as the Great Banditi. He arrives at a most inopportune time for the Waverleys, when they are all jittery about the apple tree blossoming, which caused them to do very random, out-of-character things as their anticipation of the tree’s bloom overwhelm them. It almost undoes Claire. But the strength of the family and confidence in knowing who they are keeps the Waverleys together.
I liked that. I liked seeing how each character resolves and overcomes the issues they struggle with and realize something new about themselves and the Waverley family in the process. I also loved that we get some backstory on Claire and Sydney’s mother and grandmother and some insight into whether or not Tyler believes the apple tree is sentient. I loved the story and am already thinking about reading it again sometime in the fall, which is when the majority of the story takes place. The writing is descriptive and so transportive that I almost felt as if it was fall and sorely wished for the autumn months as I read. I just had a great time reading this book and am glad Allen wrote it. I’ll certainly read her other books and whatever else she writes.
If you want something sweet, light, and fun, consider picking this up or the first book, Garden Spells.
Buy | Borrow | Bypass
I know I’ll end up rereading it at some point.
Quotes from the book:
“She knew that who you are is a stone set deep inside you. You can spend all your life trying to dig that stone out, or you can build around it. Your choice.”
“It had taken her a long time to realize that a prison sometimes isn’t a prison at all. Sometimes it’s simply a door you assume is locked because you’ve never tried to open it.”
“…happiness isn’t a point in time you leave behind. It’s what’s ahead of you. Every single day.”
“We spend all our lives looking for puzzle pieces that will give us a clearer picture of ourselves, of where we’re supposed to go and who we’re supposed to be.”