by Sarah Addison Allen
Magical Realismpersonal copy acquired via Paperback Swap
Book #1 for Read your own books Month
About the book (from the back cover)
In a garden surrounded by a tall fence, tucked away behind a small, quiet house in an even smaller town, is an apple tree that is rumored to bear a very special sort of fruit. In this luminous debut novel, Sarah Addison Allen tells the story of that enchanted tree, and the extraordinary people who tend it.…
The 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.
Thoughts I read The Peach Keeper over the summer, and while I enjoyed it, it didn't quite compare to Alice Hoffman's The Red Garden which I had read earlier in the summer. It was my first time reading a book by this author, and many people who had read most of her works had mentioned how it didn't quite hold up to her other novels. Now having read Garden Spells, I can completely see why they said that. The magical realism aspect in The Peach Keeper is very subtle. So subtle I would not be surprised if some readers missed it completely. In Garden Spells, it is impossible to miss it. It reminded me a bit of the Practical Magic movie (I've sadly not read the book yet. Maybe this fall if there is time), and also The Red Garden, which also features a garden which defines the family in local lore. I really enjoyed it, and had to remind myself that I can't start The Girl who Chased the Moon right away. Its an easy read, and for the most part a fun read. It made a nice change of pace after reading the part of Gone with the Wind where Scarlet goes back to Tara while Sherman is marching through Georgia.
If anyone is interested in winning a copy of this book, Wendy of Wall-to-wall-books also just finished it, and is giving away her copy. So head over to her blog if you are interested in entering.