We travel the same road

First Frost - Sarah Addison Allen

Loved it unconditionally and deeply, as everything written by this writer. I’m her huge fan. This book, one of the best magic realism novels I've read, continues the story of Waverley sisters that started with Allen’s debut novel, Garden Spells. Ten years have passed since the story of Garden Spells, and every familiar personage has her own set of new problems. While Garden Spells was a story of beginnings, sparkling with new hope, this book is much more mature, a little bit sadder, and a little bit wiser. 

Sydney Waverley deals with motherhood in all its versatile and often contradictory challenges. Sydney’s older sister Claire copes with her growing candy business. Recently, she started doubting herself. Does she really have a magic gift, a gift all the Waverley women reputedly have, or is it all a sham, at least where she is concerned.

Sydney’s daughter Bay is fifteen and she doesn’t have any doubts. She is a Waverley, and her gift is to know what belongs where. She knows with absolute certainty that she belongs with Josh, a boy in her new high school, but he doesn’t seem to notice her.

The surface story sounds trite in my recounting, but the novel is anything but. Like a tapestry of life, it consists of many varicolored threads, interwoven into unending combinations and sprinkled with magic. The tale that emerges is not as much a series of events and as it is a multilayered panorama of a woman’s life: as a girl, a younger woman, a mother, a wife, a professional, and finally a dying old lady. Each stage is precious and unique. Each teaches us something about ourselves. And at each stage, men are incidental, only as important as the women who love them.

This story is written so beautifully, I cried in the end, even though there was no tragedy there, and everyone got what she wanted. In some way… But the journey each Waverley has traveled is uniquely hers, a blueprint of all the journeys of all the women around us.

This delightful book is about you and me, my sister and my neighbor, my daughter and my mother. We all travel along that road, but each journey has its own quirks and tests, bumps and victories. I’m very glad that my journey intersected with the journey of this writer. I hope for many more such encounters.