Book review: First Frost by Sarah Addison Allen

11 Feb

first frostAutumn has finally arrived in the small town of Bascom, North Carolina, heralded by a strange old man appearing with a beaten-up suitcase. He has stories to tell, stories that could change the lives of the Waverley women forever. But the Waverleys have enough trouble on their hands. Quiet Claire Waverley has started a successful new venture, Waverley’s Candies, but it’s nothing like she thought it would be, and it’s slowly taking over her life. Claire’s wild sister Sydney, still trying to leave her past behind, is about to combust with her desire for another new beginning. And Sydney’s fifteen-year-old daughter Bay has given her heart away to the wrong boy and can’t get it back.

First Frost is Sarah Addison Allen’s sixth novel. Although this book can be read happily as a stand-alone, it’s also a follow up to her debut hit, Garden Spells. Sarah is one of my absolute favourite authors and I always buy her books as soon as they are released so I was delighted to see that she was returning to Bascom, North Carolina and to the Waverley family that I first met in Garden Spells.

Despite buying this book on its trade paperback release last year, as with so many of the books I buy myself, it has sat patiently waiting for me to get through my review pile. With my new year’s resolutions this year, I made myself promise that I would read at least one book each month that has been sitting on my bookshelf for a year or more and First Frost was the first I chose. The Waverley’s are a family that possess a certain magic or strangeness  (depending on which way you look at them) I love Sarah’s magical realism because it is just that; she perfectly captures the magical elements of everyday things and while the Waverley quirks might be considered eccentricities by some, I love to see and embrace the magic that the women of the family hold.

Claire Waverley’s magic is in the food that she makes and her use of flowers to affect moods, bring luck and heal. Claire’s sister Sydney’s magic comes through in her skills as a hairdresser and Sydney’s daughter Bay instinctively knows where things should be and even which people belong together! As a character I loved Bay with her surety for where things including herself belong. She’s actually the opposite of most teenage girls in that the normal social anxieties really don’t seem to bother her; she knows she’s a Waverly and she belongs. I loved how her dedication to what she knows to be right got her into some scrapes along the way.

As with all of Sarah’s books First Frost is part family drama, part mystery and part romance. Each year the apple tree in the Waverley yard blossoms and flowers at first frost. The first frost marks a new beginning for the Waverley’s and this novel charts the tense build up to the frost. Bay is experiencing first love but just needs to convince the object of her affections that they belong together, Claire’s sweet business is booming but has taken over her life to the detriment of all else ad Sydney is struggling to come to terms with an unfulfilled wish. To add to the stresses felt by the Waverley women a stranger has come to town with a mission to find the Waverley house. As Claire, Sydney and Bay look into the past, they each need to face their demons before they can move forward.

As ever, Sarah’s descriptions are beautiful, her passion for food and books shines through in her writing and the story is inspirational, hopeful and perfectly magical!

5/5

First Frost is out now in paperback and ebook formats.

Find out more about Sarah Addison Allen and her writing at: http://www.sarahaddisonallen.com/

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