Sarah Addison Allen
Publisher: St Martin's Press
Date: 20th January 2014
Genre: Women's Fiction
Source: Publisher via NetGalley
It's October in Bascom, North Carolina, and autumn will not go quietly. As temperatures drop and leaves begin to turn, the Waverley women are made restless by the whims of their mischievous apple tree... and all the magic that swirls around it. But this year, first frost has much more in store.
Claire Waverley has started a successful new venture, Waverley’s Candies. Though her handcrafted confections—rose to recall lost love, lavender to promote happiness and lemon verbena to soothe throats and minds—are singularly effective, the business of selling them is costing her the everyday joys of her family, and her belief in her own precious gifts.
Sydney Waverley, too, is losing her balance. With each passing day she longs more for a baby— a namesake for her wonderful Henry. Yet the longer she tries, the more her desire becomes an unquenchable thirst, stealing the pleasure out of the life she already has.
Sydney’s daughter, Bay, has lost her heart to the boy she knows it belongs to…if only he could see it, too. But how can he, when he is so far outside her grasp that he appears to her as little more than a puff of smoke?
When a mysterious stranger shows up and challenges the very heart of their family, each of them must make choices they have never confronted before. And through it all, the Waverley sisters must search for a way to hold their family together through their troublesome season of change, waiting for that extraordinary event that is First Frost.
First Frost is another story about the Waverley family, we first met them in Garden Spells. It is over four years since I read Garden Spells so I was a little hazy. However I wasn't long into the book when I was remembering Claire and Sydney, the Waverley house, their families and that apple tree! They are all a little older and perhaps a little wiser.
Claire has abandoned her cooking and now makes candies that are sent all over the country. It is a lot of hard work and she is somewhat out of sorts with herself. Sydney who can do magical things with hair now has her fifteen old daughter growing up and wanting to connect with Josh whom she feels she belongs with. That's Bay's gift she just knows what belongs with what. Sydney does not want Bay to be deeply hurt as she was as a young girl in a relationship, so she goes to great lengths to keep Bay and Josh apart. Sydney also longs for another child and in the meantime she enjoys Charlie, the small son of Violet the young woman who is the receptionist at the salon. While Violet is irresponsible Sydney sees something of herself in her at that age and wants to support her.
The Waverleys are unsettled, things are afoot as they wait for first frost, when the apple tree will blossom. Into the mix arrives a strange, mysterious old man, he is there one minute and disappearing the next. What does he intend and why is he here? Whatever about anyone else, Anne at the inn where he stays, sees something in him that she longs for and may just push him who knows where!
In that time before first frost, things go a little awry for Claire, Sydney and Bay. There are times of discomfort and longing, pain and anxiety. But the men married to Claire and Sydney love them and accept them and just want to let them be who they are. And as first frost falls all is sorted and the warmth of love, friendship, magic and acceptance reigns as the tree once again blossoms and they are surrounded with joy, revelation and a readiness to move into a promising future.
I enjoyed my trip back to Bascom and I hope that a little down the road we might visit again this eccentric and magical family.