For readers who befriended the magical and sometimes maddening Waverly women in Sarah Addison Allen’s charming debut, Garden Spells, the arrival of First Frost is certain to take the chill out of the bleakest winter day.
The New York Times best-selling author’s latest novel brings readers back to bucolic Bascom, North Carolina. While at first glance it appears that Claire and Sydney Waverly have finally shed their precarious past and are enjoying of happy marriages and healthy children, the arrival of autumn finds the sisters feeling anxious.
Immersed in her new confectionery business, Claire has become a nationally renowned entrepreneur. Yet, like many women, she is discovering that her success is tempered by guilt and worry that she is abandoning her family and its mystical legacy.
Sydney is also struggling to balance her longing for another baby with raising a headstrong teenager, Bay. To make things worse, Bay is involved with none other than the son of the very man who rejected Sydney in high school. As mother and daughter spar, a mysterious specter of a man observes from a distance, plotting and watching as the Waverly women face personal challenges that threaten to destroy their family harmony.
Of course, true to Allen’s penchant for personification, the myriad other “characters” in First Frost are not human, but the splendours of nature—including the sisters’ singular apple tree. As Allen writes: “On the day the tree bloomed in the fall, when its white apple blossoms fell and covered the ground like snow, it was tradition for the Waverleys to gather in the garden like survivors of some great catastrophe, hugging one another, laughing as they touched faces and arms, making sure they were all okay, grateful to have gotten through it.”
Without spoiling this delicious novel’s tasty ending, it is certain that Allen has served up another sweet treat for her loyal readers, who will likely hold out hope for a Waverly family trilogy.