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Book: Garden Spells

September 13, 2010
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Hey wow, check it out, I read a romance novel!

My sister-in-law gave this to me in a big stack of hand-me-down books, and since it seemed lighthearted and fun, plus my brain is completely fried, I thought I would give it a try. It was a short, thoroughly enjoyable distraction.

Claire and Sidney Waverley are half-sisters who grew up in a small Southern town. Claire spent the first six years of her life travelling around with her mother, who wove a desperate web of lies, thievery and sketchy men. Finally when she became pregnant with Sidney, she came back home to Bascom. And promptly abandoned the girls to their grandmother, the matriarch of a large old house, with a garden blessed (or cursed) with magical properties. Claire grew up to be rigid, set in her ways, firmly attached to home and firmly opposed to ever letting anyone in, because “people always leave.” Sydney, romanticizing her lost mother, follows in her footsteps and ends up in a horrible abusive relationship, with a daughter to protect. Eventually she makes her way back home to escape the brute.

So, all together again, Claire and Sidney and Bay (her daughter) try to figure out how to live life together, with their broken histories and miscommunications. All the while, the handsome art teacher next door has his eye on Claire, who is not amused by this.

Also throw in some high-school rivalries that never settled down, a few ex-boyfriends, some small-town gossip, and an enchanted apple tree that will show anyone who eats an apple off its branches the biggest event of their lives. This is not always a good thing.

Will Claire soften up to Tyler? Will the town accept Sidney? Will the tree stop throwing apples at everyone?

Like the best kind of Lifetime movie, it all ends well and the bad guy gets his due, and everyone is happy. Usually this sort of smug wrap-it-all-up ending makes me roll my eyes, but I really liked the characters in this book and I *really* wanted them to be happy. I think the reason why I enjoyed this so much was because the characters were all believably flawed, and also there were no heaving bosoms. A few hot kisses and one night of passion under the apple tree, but definitely not over-the-top.

Also the touch of whimsical magical realism was fun, and the whole book had an appropriate pre-Halloween feel. Crisp air, apples, a bit of lighthearted romantic magic (purple sparkles coming from the aura of a person in love, enchanted catered lunches, emotions manifesting in real heat, etc.)

I kept thinking as I read that this is a book that I would have *loved* in high school. Just romantic enough to make your heart flutter, enough magic to satisfy my appetite for supernatural flavor, a word of caution (“don’t do drugs and/or date bad men”), and a happy ending that was totally believable. As an adult, it was a fun distraction while the boxes are piling up around me.

Up next: Water for Elephants, to which I had a totally mixed reaction.

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8 Comments leave one →
  1. September 13, 2010 2:20 pm

    This is one of my favorite books…for exactly the reasons you stated. It’s an easy read, there is a touch of romance, some mystery, a magical air, very cool characters, and it ends well.

    I really get sick of books that don’t end well. I like characters that I like getting together and being happy. I’m tired of someone kicking it right before they can live happily ever after.

    So glad you liked it too!

    • September 13, 2010 8:22 pm

      It was pretty good! And I was happy about the happy ending. I was actually pretty afraid that Tyler would kick the bucket before the end. But no, happy magical ending for all. Well, almost all.

  2. D'Arcy permalink
    September 13, 2010 3:10 pm

    Did you know the author of Water for Elephants is Canadian?

  3. September 13, 2010 6:51 pm

    Happy endings are good….We all could use more of them. Once I get through the stack of books on my nightstand, I’ll order this one from my library. I’m loving the library these days — since I resolved to not buy any more books.

    • September 13, 2010 8:23 pm

      Definitely. You’d like it, I’m sure. I love ordering books from the library!

  4. September 13, 2010 8:22 pm

    No, but I know YOU are. 🙂

  5. September 14, 2010 6:34 am

    No heaving bossoms? Does the book even qualify as a romance without that key ingredient? 😉 Glad it was fun. Hope the packing is going well!

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