Summary from Goodreads:
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.
My first foray into Sarah Addison Allen’s brand of magical realism was Garden Spells which was a pleasant discovery because I thoroughly enjoyed it despite the fact that I am not really a big fan of the genre. It also made me a fan of the author and for two years now, I always reserve every Christmas season for my Sarah Addison Allen yearly fix. Two Christmases ago, I read The Sugar Queen, which was my favorite SAA book so far, and last year, I planned to read The Peach Keeper, but I put it on hold after I learned that there’s a new book coming out: First Frost, which was released in February this year. I waited for the release date of the book, but to my delight, a free advance copy was offered on Net Galley and, of course, I couldn’t let the opportunity pass and grabbed the chance to get myself a copy.
First Frost is the sequel to Garden Spells and it began 10 years after Garden Spells. Bay Waverley, the daughter of Sydney, is already in high school and having her own issues regarding her extraordinary gift. The Waverley sisters are now in the cusp of midlife, and I was immediately drawn to their respective family livee, especially the dynamics of their marriages. I was also glad to see Evanelle still alive and, though not necessarily kicking, her magic touch still works.
For someone like me who grew up in a tropical country, the idea of first frost is somewhat vague,and to be honest, I had to google what “first frost” really is, haha! The narrative made it easy for me to imagine what it was like, not to mention that February in this country starts to feel more summer-y so the mention of frost and snow somehow eased the discomforts of the summer heat. And the food! I mustn’t forget the food and how reading this book always made my mouth water. 🙂
I enjoyed the mystery of the new stranger and how it richly contributed to the conflict in the story. His story provided the back story that was lacking in Garden Spells and although I was a bit sad at how his story ended, still the resolution was a relief. And then of course, there is the story of Sydney and her longing to have a baby. I deeply feel her sadness and frustration. Claire Waverley’s struggles for belongingness and self-acceptance may be a tad too old for her age but I find them understandable because of her background. And then there’s Bay who is increasingly becoming like the Waverley that she is. One great thing I appreciate with Sarah Addison Allen’s novels is that her magic doesn’t stick out like some sore thumb. It feels so natural that I don’t find it very awkward to read about an apple tree throwing apples to people.
I loved how everybody’s stories in this book tied so neatly in the end. There is something wonderful about neat endings that made me sigh in relief and satisfaction after I was done. Of course, I also love cliff-hangers but stories like these made me long for happily ever after and that it what First Frost is. It is a delightful and enchanting story that made me believe in love and its magic. It made me feel good about life and I think that is such a most wonderful thing to feel.
My Rating: 4/5 stars
My copy: ebook from NetGalley.