Friday, December 19, 2014

Book Review: First Frost

First Frost (Waverley Family #2)
Published By: St. Martin's Press
Publication Date: January 20, 2015
Page Count: 304
Source: ARC Kindly Provided by Publisher
Audience: Adult - Magical Realism, Southern Fiction

I read Garden Spells, the first Waverley Family novel, before Reading Lark was born, but it is a novel that has stuck with me. That novel was also my first experience with Sarah Addison Allen; I have been a devoted fan ever since. When I first heard about this novel, I was ecstatic. I couldn't wait to get back to Bascom, North Carolina to find out what the magical Waverley women were up to these days. I also plan to reread Garden Spells and review it soon.

First Frost is set around ten years after the ending of Garden Spells. Claire has moved beyond her catering business and is now making candy for a booming yet stressful business. Claire's marriage to Tyler and her daughter, Mariah, are what motivate Claire to be as successful as possible. She craves stability and the ability to provide for her family in a way her mother was never able to provide for her. Like Claire, Sydney has also grown up a lot since we last saw her. She's more grounded and settled. Being married to Henry and living in Bascom has made her softer somehow. I loved watching Claire and Sydney interact. Allen describes this sisterly relationship beautifully: "The Waverely sisters hadn't been close as children, but they were as thick as thieves now, the way adult siblings often are, the moment they realize that family is actually a choice" (Kindle Location 115). In many ways, these two remind me a lot of my sister and I. I am certainly the Claire and my sister is the Sydney. 

In addition to the Waverley sisters, I loved getting to see Bay all grown up. She is fifteen in this story and struggling with unrequited love. Being a Waverley in Bascom isn't easy. Everyone knows that the Waverley women have magic in their veins. The object of Bay's affection appears to be slightly terrified by her, but he later finds that perhaps magic is more intriguing than something to be feared. 

Getting to spend more time in Bascom with the characters I have grown to love was a treat. I love how Allen blends together contemporary southern fiction with a hint of magic. It makes me want to live in this town and befriend these women.

In addition for the fondness I have for the setting and characters, I am always blown away by the beauty of Allen's language. The vivid descriptions create such gorgeous imagery. Here's a little taste:  "Last night it had rained in sheets and strong winds had finally blown autumn into Bascom as if by the sharp sweep of a broom. There was a discernible chill in the air now, and wet leaves were everywhere - in yards, on the sidewalks, in the street, stuck on cars. It looked like the world was covered in a cobbler crust of brown sugar and cinnamon" (Kindle Location 33). I always leave an Allen novel with the thirst to see the beauty in minute details. 

I can't recommend Sarah Addison Allen's novels enough. They are beautiful and magical works of art. Her analysis of the quirks of small town life and southern culture conjure up childhood memories. If I could forge a town to raise a family in, it would be much like Bascom. I can only hope that this is not the end of the Waverley stories.

One Last Gripe: I have no complaints. First Frost was everything I expected and more.

Favorite Thing About This Book: The beautiful use of language

First Sentence: Bay Waverley-Hopkins raced down Pendland Street, her backpack bouncing and her dark hair flying behind her like blackbirds.

Favorite Character: I love so many, but if I can only choose one, it would be Claire.

Least Favorite Character: Russell

From the New York Times bestselling author of Garden Spells comes a story of the Waverley family, in a novel as sparkling as the first dusting of frost on new-fallen leaves...

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.

Lose yourself in Sarah Addison Allen's enchanting world and fall for her charmed characters in this captivating story that proves that a happily-ever-after is never the real ending to a story. It’s where the real story begins.


  1. Thanks! I didn't know about this one. I really enjoyed Garden Spells.

  2. LOVE stories set in the South and love it when they're character and family driven!!

    LOVE the magic in it as well - and it's awesome you connected with the sisters as you saw yourself and yoru family in them as well!!

    Lovely review :)


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