GARDEN SPELLS

Sarah Addison Allen

 Welcome to Bascom, North Carolina, where everyone has a story to tell about the Waverleys. There’s the house that’s been in the family for generations, the walled garden that mysteriously blooms year round, and the wild rumors of dangerous loves and tragic passions. Claire has always clung to the Waverleys’ roots, tending the enchanted soil in the family garden from which she makes her sought-after delicacies. She has everything she thinks she needs, until one day she wakes to find a stranger has moved in next door and a vine of ivy has crept into her garden… and Claire’s carefully tended life is about to run gloriously out of control.

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 Welcome to Bascom, North Carolina, where everyone has a story to tell about the Waverleys. There’s the house that’s been in the family for generations, the walled garden that mysteriously blooms year round, and the wild rumors of dangerous loves and tragic passions. Claire has always clung to the Waverleys’ roots, tending the enchanted soil in the family garden from which she makes her sought-after delicacies. She has everything she thinks she needs, until one day she wakes to find a stranger has moved in next door and a vine of ivy has crept into her garden… and Claire’s carefully tended life is about to run gloriously out of control.

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  • Bantam Discovery
  • Paperback
  • April 2008
  • 320 Pages
  • 9780553384833

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About Sarah Addison Allen

 Sarah Addison Allen lives in Asheville, North Carolina. Her next novel, The Sugar Queen, will be published by Bantam on May 20th, 2008.

Praise

“…Spellbindingly charming, Allen’s impressively accomplished debut novel will bewitch fans of Alice Hoffman and Laura Esquivel, as her entrancing brand of magic realism nimbly blends the evanescent desires of hopeless romantics with the inherent wariness of those who have been hurt once too often.” —Booklist (starred review) – Carol Haggas

“It’s refreshing to find a Southern novel that doesn’t depend on folksy humor or stereotypes but instead on the imaginative use of magical realism. Just buy it, read it, and recommend it to others.” —Library Journal (starred review) – Rebecca Kelm

“…The blending of horticultural folklore, the supernatural and a big dollop of Southern flavor should find favor with a wide swath of readers.”—Publishers Weekly

“It is a privilege and an honor to lend support to Sarah Addison Allen and her amazing and magical first novel Garden Spells. This story is simply as irresistible as it is unforgettable. Ms. Allen has put writers everywhere on notice and raised the bar as high as an apple tree. My only regret is that Garden Spells wasn’t a thousand pages longer! Congratulations to you, Sarah Addison Allen for an off-the-blocks triumph! I can’t wait to see what you come up with next!”
—New York Times bestselling author, Dorothea Benton Frank

Discussion Questions

Could you be persuaded that certain plants have powers, as Claire describes and uses them? If you believed you possessed the magical powers that Claire has inherited, how would you use them? What’s the first thing you would do?

Which of the sisters resonates with you personally? Claire believes everything-everyone-is temporary. She clings to home and makes herself content. Sydney’s philosophy is “you can’t hold on to everything,” and so has a history of very temporary, noncommittal relationships. Are their outlooks two sides of the same coin? What is the nature of the shift that occurs for each of them?

Sydney does what she feels she has to do in running with her daughter. What is your reaction to her dilemma, and her choice?

Sydney uses her birth name, Waverley, when she returns to her hometown, after hating the name all her life; she even gives her own daughter the Waverley surname. Why do you think she does this?

Do you relate to Emma’s passion for Hunter John? Is it possible for someone else to manipulate personal circumstances as Emma and her mother do?

How do you explain Claire’s attraction-repulsion to Tyler? Why do you think Claire sees violet sparks hovering around him the first time she meets him? What makes her eventually realize they are destined to be together?

Do you think a child can have the kind of insight and sensitivity that Bay demonstrates? Could a man have it? If not, why?

The four Waverley women in this novel (Claire, Sydney, Bay, Evanelle) have special gifts. Which of the four gifts would you like to have yourself? Why?

Fred observes, “You are who you are, whether you like it or not, so why not like it?” How does this statement relate to the different characters in the book?

Claire thinks, “When you tell a secret to someone, embarrassing or not, it forms a connection. That person means something to you simply by virtue of what he knows.” Do you agree with this? Can a secret be a positive thing? A negative thing?

Which character changes the most over the course of the book? What does he or she learn? What had to take place in order for this to happen?

Do you consider this to be a “southern” novel? Besides its setting, what characteristics make it so?

If you knew that biting into a Waverley apple would reveal your future… would you bite? Why or why not?