Friday, January 23, 2015

Review: First Frost by Sarah Addison Allen

Title: First Frost
Author: Sarah Addison Allen
Genre: Contemporary Fiction/Magical Realism
Series: Waverley Family #2
Publication Date: 20th January 2015
Pages: 304
Book Source: St Martin's Press & NetGalley

Synopsis: 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.

My Thoughts:
First Frost started slowly. I panicked a little ... where's the magic, where's the magic? But before I knew it I'd been swept away. 

I read Garden Spells 6 years ago but 10 years on revisiting the Waverley family ... sisters Claire & Sydney, Sydney's husband Henry and now 15 year old daughter Bay, Claire and Tyler's daughter Mariah, and quirky Aunt Evanelle and Fred, was like having a cup of tea with dear old friends you haven't seen for years but you pick up right where you left off ... comfortable, familiar and just plain good. 

Each member of the Waverley family has a special gift, gifts that tie them to their family name. Bay knows where things belong, Sydney understands the language of hair, Claire uses her catering turned candy business to share the magic of flowers and herbs and Mariah ... well you'll just have to read First Frost to see if she has a gift. And who'd dare forget the mischievous Queen Anne home or the feisty apple tree. 

In First Frost the Waverleys' are feeling a little out of sorts; unsettled and anxious ... it's that period of unrest before first frost when the apple tree blossoms signalling new beginnings.

It looked like the world was covered in a cobbler crust of brown sugar and cinnamon.

Autumn felt like the whole world was browned and roasted until it was so tender it was about to fall away from the bone.

Sarah Addison Allen has a beautiful way with words and there's just something about her writing that takes me back to childhood ... looks of wonder, fairy dust and magical wonderful things.

First Frost is the type of read that makes me believe anything's possible ... like waking in the garden to fairies kissing your nose xx

Recommend: everyone needs a little magic in their life :)

Food is just something you grow and recipes are just words written in notebooks. They are nothing until the right person comes along. 
And that's when the real magic happens.

on that note here's two recipes from First Frost I'd love to try. 

Fig and Pepper Bread

2 cups wholegrain spelt flour
2 1/2 cups all purpose flour (plain flour)
1 1/2 cups coarsely chopped figs
2 tsp coarse black pepper
2 tsp sea salt
2 tbsp olive oil
1 dry yeast packet
1 1/2 cups of warm water

Whisk flour, salt, pepper and yeast until blended, by hand or with whisk attachment of mixer. 

Add Olive oil and warm water. Knead for 10 minutes or use dough hook attachment of mixer for 5 minutes, until dough is smooth and springy. 

Oil a large bowl, place dough inside and cover bowl with a damp hand towel. Let sit in a warm place for approx 1 hour, or until dough has doubled in size.

Softly knead in the chopped figs and evenly distribute throughout the dough, (lightly flouring your hands can make handling the dough easier) shape into an oval then place on a baking sheet. 

Snip three shallow lines into top of the dough with scissors, then lightly dust the dough with flour.

Let rise, uncovered, until dough swells a little more, 10 - 15 mins, or longer if the kitchen isn't warm.

Place tray in 350 (180 C) oven for 40-45 mins until crust is slight brown and the loaf sounds hollow when tapped on the underside. 

Cool on wire wrack. 

Connect with Sarah Addison Allen

Weekend Cooking is hosted by Beth Fish Reads and open to anyone who has any kind of food-related post to share: Book (novel, nonfiction) reviews, cookbook reviews, movie reviews, recipes, random thoughts, gadgets, quotations, photographs.


  1. When it comes out in pb it's mine

  2. I think I am going to have to check this out!!!!

    1. Have you read Garden Spells Julie? Start with it, knowing about the Waverley family makes First Frost even more special.

  3. This sounds like a wonderful story Teddyree. I enjoyed Lost Lake by this author. She does magical realism really well. Those recipes look wonderful. Enjoy! Thanks for your great review.

    1. Thanks Pat, I thought Lost Lake was gorgeous, SAA is one of my go-to authors when I want the 'warm fuzzies' lol

  4. I too was leery at the beginning. Then the magic began and I was hooked. By magic I mean the author's writing skill. Love the real magic too. Surprisingly my favorite characters are Evanelle and Fred. I can't wait for her next novel.

    1. I agree, Evanelle and Fred are adorable ... and I do hope we get to visit with the Waverleys' again.

  5. I am going to have to try the first book again. It didn't quite work for me but I think it was a mood thing. :)

    1. yay hope it works for you 2nd time around Felicia ... SAA is one of my go-to authors for a feel-good read, makes me smile :)

  6. I thought it started slowly too, but then I loved the whole story and the way the characters developed. There is a childhood feel to it and brings back happy memories does SAA. Love the look of the recipes, are you going to try them?

    1. yes I'm going to give these a go Kathryn, I'm pretty sure we'll like the soup, the bread I'm not as confident, it's an unusual combination but I wouldn't mind trying something different. A couple of people on SAA facebook have commented that it's delicious :)

  7. I loved the you shared the fig bread. I was happy I was able to slip right back in.I love the house and hope we visit these characters again

  8. I loved it. Do you think there will be a third book? Thanks for posting the recipes. I was curious about the fig and pepper bread :)

  9. Oh that fig and pepper bread looks awesome! I'm not a huge fan of magical realism, but I might give these books a try.

  10. We had a roasted red pepper soup at a restaurant years ago and I've been trying to replicate it ever since. That recipe looks tasty! Sarah Addison Allen is on my TBR and I'm hoping to read Garden Spell soon. Thanks for sharing!

  11. I read another positive review of this one recently. I'm not sure it's for me (magic isn't really my thing), but I love the sound of pepper and fig bread!

  12. The recipes sound good -- I'm not familiar with this author but I do like a little magic realism now and then. Like the idea of Claire opening a candy shop!

  13. I loved Garden Spells, might need to reread it before I pick up a copy of First Frost. Adding this to my must read list for 2015. :)

  14. Love the idea of including recipes!

  15. Hm. I love SAA and wish you'd liked this one more. It's been 5 years since I read GS and I've been worried I wouldn't remember enough, but it sounds like I'll be able to join right in on the fun time. I love that apple tree :)


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