I have apparently in all the years I’ve been doing book reviews never reviewed one of my favorite authors. This is a gross mistake in my opinion because she is usually one of the first authors I recommend to people. She isn’t for everyone it’s true, those who enjoy chick lit with magical realism are a small niche group I know but no one in my opinion does it better than Sarah Addison Allen.
Like most of my favorite books and authors, I don’t exactly remember how or when I stumbled upon Allen. I know the book was The Sugar Queen and I think it was on one of those infamous Buy 2, Get 1 Free tables I don’t see often enough at B&N these days. I don’t remember what the other two books were that I bought but The Sugar Queen has been worth its weight in gold for the hours of wonderful reading it has brought me.
The Sugar Queen follows the story of Josey Cirrini, someone who is unhappy in life and takes comfort in the many sweets she holes away in her closet, away from the eyes of her disapproving mother. Then, two things happen. One, a ghost (although she doesn’t realize it at the time) takes up residence in her closet and two, she admits to a new friend that she’s been in love with her mailman for years. Her new friend has her own problems, a cheating boyfriend and a habit of books simply appearing to her on topics she needs to read about (forgiveness and home ownership). It only gets crazier and more wonderful from there. Allen has a knack for writing two of my favorite things to find in books: women I want to immediately be best friends with and places I wish I could move to and never leave. Her books are cozy and welcoming; books you want to curl up in with a hot cup of tea and never leave.
Since finding Josey, I have become best friends with all the rest of her heroines (I think I might have one book left of hers to pick up – I need to get on that!). Recently, she published her first sequel of sorts, a return to a family she first wrote about 10 years earlier. The Waverleys are by far the most directly “magical” characters she’s written. Claire can make you feel things through her food; Sidney can give you confidence just by how she styles your hair. First Frost, her most recent book that returned to the Waverleys also explores Bay, Sidney’s daughter more as she’s now grown into a young woman from the little girl we knew in the first book.
Bay has the unique gift of being able to know where something or someone belongs. Which is a slight problem when the boy she knows she belongs with doesn’t want anything to do with her. Whereas the first Waverley book, Garden Spells, takes place in high summer, First Frost is an autumnal book; full of crisp mornings and woodsmoke. In a way, it was an atmosphere that reminded me of another book I adore that falls into this category of books, The Night Circus. The Waverleys though are a class all on their own and I was delighted to visit with them again. If this genre sounds like one you will enjoy, run, do not walk and pick some Sarah Addison Allen books. The only bad thing is you can’t actually climb into them and stay awhile.