January 16, 2015

Ready to Become a Fan of... Sarah Addison Allen

Ready to Become a Fan of... focuses on those authors new and old whose works I have every intention of eventually reading, but haven't been able to devote the time to just yet. By discussing authors and their works that I'm sure I'll love, given the chance, hopefully I can be more easily compelled to take the next step in not simply acquiring one of their books, but actually take the time to read it.

This month I'm putting on record that I am ready to become a fan of Sarah Addison Allen.

About the author:
New York Times Bestselling novelist Sarah Addison Allen brings the full flavor of her southern upbringing to bear on her fiction -- a captivating blend of magical realism, heartwarming romance, and small-town sensibility. She is the author of Garden Spells (2007) The Sugar Queen (2008) The Girl Who Chased the Moon (2010) The Peach Keeper (2011), Lost Lake (2014), and First Frost (2015). (Modified from Goodreads)

Work I'm most looking forward to reading:
Garden Spells

The women of the Waverley family -- whether they like it or not -- are heirs to an unusual legacy, one that grows in a fenced plot behind their Queen Anne home on Pendland Street in Bascom, North Carolina. There, an apple tree bearing fruit of magical properties looms over a garden filled with herbs and edible flowers that possess the power to affect in curious ways anyone who eats them.

For nearly a decade, 34-year-old Claire Waverley, at peace with her family inheritance, has lived in the house alone, embracing the spirit of the grandmother who raised her, ruing her mother's unfortunate destiny and seemingly unconcerned about the fate of her rebellious sister, Sydney, who freed herself long ago from their small town's constraints. Using her grandmother's mystical culinary traditions, Claire has built a successful catering business -- and a carefully controlled, utterly predictable life -- upon the family's peculiar gift for making life-altering delicacies: lilac jelly to engender humility, for instance, or rose geranium wine to call up fond memories. Garden Spells reveals what happens when Sydney returns to Bascom with her young daughter, turning Claire's routine existence upside down. With Sydney's homecoming, the magic that the quiet caterer has measured into recipes to shape the thoughts and moods of others begins to influence Claire's own emotions in terrifying and delightful ways.

As the sisters reconnect and learn to support one another, each finds romance where she least expects it, while Sydney's child, Bay, discovers both the safe home she has longed for and her own surprising gifts. With the help of their elderly cousin Evanelle, endowed with her own uncanny skills, the Waverley women redeem the past, embrace the present, and take a joyful leap into the future. (Goodreads)

Why this author & this work:
I’m pretty sure I mentioned my love of magical realism many times already on the blog. It's not always the easiest thing to make magical events and occurrences feel believable in a real-world setting, so I always enjoy finding authors who handle that technique well.

My understanding is that Allen's books are about so much more than magical realism, however, but contain a Southern atmosphere and focus on familial relationships and female protagonists who grow believably. I'm all for finding authors whose adult fiction contains those elements and then some, and I like the fact that Allen has a decent backlog of published stories - as well as one releasing in a few days!

I want to be introduced to Allen's works through Garden Spells for a couple of reasons: I already own the Kindle version of this novel; and, whenever possible, I like reading an author's published works in order, so that I can better appreciate his or her growth as an author.

For those of you who've already read some of Sarah Addison Allen works, I'd appreciate hearing what you think about them. For those who also haven't read her works yet, let me know what's been holding you back!

Ready to Become a Fan of... is an original feature of Late Nights with Good Books.

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Amanda loves few things better than sitting down with a cup of tea and a book. She frequently stays up far too late, telling herself she just needs to finish one more page. When she's not wrapped up in the stories of others, Amanda works as a children's librarian in a public library.


  1. Sarah Addison Allen is THE BEST!!! I adore her books, and I think Garden Spells is most likely her best and most popular (though I really prefer The Peach Keeper). The only sad thing is, her books are really short so you just want more but there IS no more and it's just. so. SAD.

    I most definitely recommend this author! (Obviously, haha.)

  2. I read Garden Spells a couple years ago and really loved it. It sort of reminded me of a toned down Practical Magic (the movie version, not the book version). I loved how subtle the magic was and of course the atmosphere. It's a book that felt very relaxing to read.

    I also have the Sugar Queen by Allen on my bookshelf but I haven't gotten around to reading it yet. Hope you like Garden Spells when you read it!

  3. I loooove Sarah Addison Allen and I'm sure you'll love her, Amanda! Her magical realism is so believable and on-point and Garden Spells and The Sugar Queen are my favorites. Of course, there have been novels of hers I haven't been as fond of--The Peach Keeper and her latest novel--but even those books have been a delight to read because of her prose. I can't wait for you to read these books! :)

  4. I loooove Sarah Addison Allen! I think my favorite is The Girl Who Chased the Moon, but you really can't go wrong with any of them. The magic is just so charming, the settings are always lovely and the characters are just so quirky and fun. Even when there are moments of sadness, I love how her books always leave me feeling good. I hope you get a chance to read Garden Spells this year!


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