** The Story of the Mysterious Waverly Family...
It is Bascom, North Carolina where everyone has a story to tell and some families have inherited some weird and wonderful magical None more so than the Waverly family. In Bascom, the Waverly family are well renowned for their mysterious ways and their enchanted garden.
Aside from Evenelle, an elderly cousin who feels the need to give gifts to people she comes across which they always seem to need in the future, Claire is one of two Waverly women left in Bascom and is also touched by the Waverly magic. Running a catering company, she is hired by all in Bascom due to the powerful results her food has as the ingredients are mixed with elements from her enchanted garden to give very unusual results. Claire lives a lonely life on her own not letting anyone get close to her and finds comfort in her safe routine making food and tending her garden.
That is until Tyler moves in next door and suddenly everything in Claire's life turns chaotic - her younger sister Sydney returns with a five year old daughter In tow, Sydney keeping many secrets herself. Ivy has started to grow in Claire's carefully tended garden and Claire's quiet but perfect life is about to run out of control...
...After reading that summary back, I can see how sickly sweet and girly it sounds. I have no idea how I came to want this book, I have a feeling at the time I was seduced by the pretty front cover but I did get this months ago but it was only last week that I started to read it. However, I am so glad I did! If I say from the beginning of this review that I have already put Sarah Addison Allen's follow up book, " The Sugar Queen" on my readitswapit wish list, you will get an understanding just how much I did enjoy this.
** DO judge a book by its cover!
For once, this book lived up to all the front cover promises. If you are the kind of person (and I am mainly referring to the women, although I am sure there are some men out there who do love this sort of thing!) by pretty glittery girly covers then this might be for you. The cover simply has a gown on the front that is very delicate and has flowers and glitter around it. Its all very magical, pretty, flowery and feminine and that is exactly what you would get if you read this book.
Although I may have already put more than half of readers off by explaining the book in this way, it isn't just a pretty book with no substance as the writing is really quite good too and the author has a knack of writing the most beautiful descriptions as well as having an incredible imagination when creating a magical world! As this book has some magical and enchanted elements, it is quite obviously not a book that will provoke any sense of realism in the reader. Having said that, the way in which the magical elements are presented are well written, and quite frankly, delightful! I loved the idea of the apple tree that had its own personality and whose apples would provide whomever consumed them with images of the biggest event of their lives. I also loved the fact that the Waverly had subtle powers of their own. In fact, if the book didn't involve some stronger sexual elements (nothing graphic, just heavily hinted at), I'd say this was a perfect fairytale children's book as well as one that is enjoyed by adults such as myself!
I immediately fell in love with the main characters in this story and not because they felt "real" and all that other stuff I usually like book characters to be, but because they were beautiful, strong and special, it was as simple as that. I particularly loved the relationship that the sisters had to rebuild with each other after 10 years apart, and I loved the heart break and new loves that were involved and how the stories unfolded throughout the book. Sydney had my sympathy more as Addison Alan had a stab at tackling the difficult topic of domestic violence. For the most part, I felt that she hit the right note, any darker or with any more detail wouldn't have really fit the overall note and feeling that this book was trying to create. However, I was touched by the plight that was created for Sydney, whereas Claire sometimes became irritating with how she refused to let anyone in as she was frightened of getting hurt.
There are also two male love interests in this book who are (as predicted) entirely likeable and practically without flaws. Yes, this would be really irritating to most, but it fit the story as although it is really about the women finding love, it also goes a bit deeper into their family relationships and their views of themselves.
Its difficult to really pin point anything I really disliked about the book. This was so sugary sweet that unless you are in to that sort of thing, it will be a horrendous read for you! I found myself squirming at the first couple of chapters at how saccharine it was, but I soon got used to it and fell in love with the story! There are two characters who crop up in the story now and again, who upon reflection, I am unsure whether their parts were entirely necessary. One was Sydney's high school sweetheart Hunter John who broke her heart and was the reason why she ran away in the first place, and the other is his wife of 10 years and Sydney's ex friend, Emma. We sometimes read the story not only from Sydney, Claire, Bays (Sydney's daughter) or Evenelle's perspective, but also from Emma's as she tries to deal with her jealousy over Sydney's return. Emma and her mother provided Sydney with some moments that reminded her of why she escaped Bascom in the first place, but in all honesty, it didn't really add a great deal to the story as a whole especially as when this storyline pretty much fizzled out. However, it didn't ruin the story really so I can't say that It really bothered me!
It is mainly a relationship story (not just of the romantic kind!) with some magic thrown in for good measure, so although there were some tentative steps to input some more serious storylines, these weren't explored fully, but neither did they need to be. All I'd say that if you are going to indulge in some light hearted chick lit, then you may as well go the whole hog and read this!