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First Frost by Sarah Addison Allen

Autumn winds bring strangers.

I do love Sarah Addison Allen’s stories. It’s the joy of reading about women full of strength and wisdom helping each other, pulling together and valuing each other even while making the usual everyday mistakes and missteps in life. And then there’s the magic – beautiful inner magic at the core of these women that a small part of me clings to no matter how rational I try to be.

First Frost sees us back with the Waverley women of Bascom, North Carolina. If you’ve not read Garden Spells, then do. It’s not actually necessary to read it before enjoying First Frost, but it’d be a great shame to miss out on it. Sisters Claire and Sydney are at the heart of the story, along with Sydney’s teenage daughter Bay. All three of them are restless, frustrated, distracted and not entirely themselves as Autumn drifts in. As they await the first frost of the season, signalling the rebirth of their curious apple tree, they struggle to make decisions and find their path.

Claire’s catering business has been put to one side for Waverley Candies, bringing her flair for knowing just the right ingredients to a much wider audience. Her new fame brings a visitor, causing her to question everything about her life. Sydney has her hands full with her newest employee, and Bay has boy trouble. They need to pull together and look after each other. Fortunately, the sisters are closer than ever now ‘the way adult siblings often are, the moment they realize that family is actually a choice.’

There’s a smaller story I enjoyed very much too, about Anne Ainsley and the stranger. Life had not been kind to her, and hers ‘was a life that accepted disappointment as inevitable.’ She’s looking for stories...sounds familiar. The writing is lovely; the descriptions of food are scrumptious and even the town itself is tinged with fairytale – ‘It looked like the world was covered in a cobbler crust of brown sugar and cinnamon.’ In my mind, there is definitely something of Stars Hollow about the place; reading Addison Allen puts me in the same place as watching Gilmore Girls (Seasons 1-4, after that I made up my own endings).

I read it (twice), I loved it, and am already impatient for more.

I read the book courtesy of the publisher and NetGalley. First Frost is available now in paperback.


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