Friday, July 17, 2009

Would you bite?

The tree must have done it.  Last night I was reading in bed, with my cat Kiki curled up at my feet, when a book jumped off the shelf onto the floor ... loudly.  Kiki was startled and stared hard at the offending book, but neither she nor I could see any reason for it to "fall."  Granted, it was standing at the end of a row of books with nothing helping it to stand upright -- but it was in the middle of the shelf.  And it was a mere three feet to my left.   I think the tree had something to do with it.

Which book was it, you ask?  Garden Spells by Sarah Addison Allen that I had finished reading a few days ago.  Those of you who have read the book will understand why I'm trying to figure out how the tree threw the book at me.   I mean, it IS a book about casting spells.  And the tree in question has been known to throw apples at people.  Personally, I think the tree wants me to know I am taking far too much time getting around to writing it (the tree, I mean) into a book review.  (Aside to the tree:  "Okay, I get it!   I'm writing as fast as my little fingers can type, so don't throw any more books at me, okay?")

Claire and Sydney Waverley react very differently to being part of a curious family, which has a certain reputation in their hometown of Bascom, North Carolina.  Their feisty apple tree is known to bear prophetic fruit, and edible flowers from their garden have special powers.   Claire became a successful caterer, dishing out her mystical plants, but Sydney fled their town as soon as she could.  Their elderly cousin, Evanelle, distributes unexpected gifts whose uses become uncannily clear within days or hours.  These three, plus Sydney's young daughter Bay, are the last of the Waverleys.  The story picks up when Sydney comes home to North Carolina with her daughter and turns Claire's quiet life upside down.  The two must learn to live with each other, and there's a man involved, of course.  He's a neighbor who caused one of the sisters to ... well, let me quote the author's excellent way of showing what a kiss could do:
"She got in the van and sped away, jumping curbs and running stop signs all the way home" (p. 168).
And there's the tree.   Yes, the apple tree that throws apples to get people's attention.  Eating a bite from one of its apples foretold something about the future that caused Claire and Sydney's mother to flee from Bascom, and that profoundly influenced the course of her daughters' lives.
"The garden was quiet and damp, the temperamental apple tree at the back of the lot shivering slightly as if dreaming" (p. 5).
Taking a bite of the fruit of that tree is something to ponder.  If you knew that biting into a Waverley  apple would reveal part of your future, would you bite?  Tell us why or why not in the comments. Me?  Nah, I don't think I'd want to know.   Frankly, I think it's odd enough that THIS is the book that flew off the shelf last night in my direction, and not some other book.   (Yes, it really did happen.)  How would you explain it, if not that the book was somehow influenced by the apple tree in the story?

Garden Spells ~ by Sarah Addison Allen, magical realism, 2007
Rating: 9 of 10, excellent!

5 comments:

cj said...

Dang tree!

What a great review, Bonnie. I loved this book and her next one - The Sugar Queen - and can't wait for the third to come out.

cjh

Absolute Vanilla (and Atyllah) said...

Nah, I'd prefer not to know. But you'd better mind your ps and qs around that tree!
Sounds like a great read, off to try and find it right away!

Marg said...

I loved both of this author's books! I too am waiting for the third one! Can't wait!

Kailana said...

I really need to get around to reading this! Thanks for the review!

Stephanie said...

Hey Bonnie! Great to see you back and doing so well!

I read this book last year and really enjoyed it. (reminded me a lot of Practical Magic, but still liked it alot).

I'd rather not know...but I do tend to be rather curious and impatient. Would hope I could hold back!