This week I discovered Sarah Addison Allen. She writes about family, friendship, and romance. Her characters are endearingly quirky, and her stories captivate with humor and magic. (Actual MAGIC!) I finished Garden Spells and The Sugar Queen in about three days. (Three more to go before I run out of published books. Eeek!) Either of these novels would be a perfect companion to a soothing cup of tea and a treat. See if these descriptions grab you:
A successful caterer, Claire Waverley prepares dishes made with her mystical plants—from the nasturtiums that aid in keeping secrets and the pansies that make children thoughtful, to the snapdragons intended to discourage the attentions of her amorous neighbor. Meanwhile, her elderly cousin, Evanelle, is known for distributing unexpected gifts whose uses become uncannily clear. They are the last of the Waverleys—except for Claire’s rebellious sister, Sydney, who fled Bascom the moment she could, abandoning Claire, as their own mother had years before. When Sydney suddenly returns home with a young daughter of her own, Claire’s quiet life is turned upside down—along with the protective boundary she has so carefully constructed around her heart. Together again in the house they grew up in, Sydney takes stock of all she left behind, as Claire struggles to heal the wounds of the past. [photo and description from Random House]
Josey Cirrini is sure of three things: winter is her favorite season, she’s a sorry excuse for a Southern belle, and sweets are best eaten in the privacy of her closet. For while Josey has settled into an uneventful life in her mother’s house, her one consolation is the stockpile of sugary treats and paperback romances she escapes to each night…. Until she finds her closet harboring Della Lee Baker, a local waitress who is one part nemesis—and two parts fairy godmother. With Della Lee’s tough love, Josey’s narrow existence quickly expands. She even bonds with Chloe Finley, a young woman who is hounded by books that inexplicably appear when she needs them—and who has a close connection to Josey’s longtime crush. Soon Josey is living in a world where the color red has startling powers, and passion can make eggs fry in their cartons. And that’s just for starters. [photo and description from Random House]
Now, if I were as talented in the kitchen as some of Allen’s characters, I would try to make a treat out of edible flowers, or some such. I decided, however, that if these stories could talk to me, they’d tell me to make something from scratch, but not to stress about it. They’d tell me to enjoy what I made, to take a little comfort, but not to horde or hide the results. In fact, they’d urge me to share with others.
So I went with a sure thing: oatmeal chocolate chip cookies. I indulged in a little spoon licking, saved 5 baked cookies for myself, and sent the rest with Steve to the law school.
In honor of the flowery theme of Garden Spells, I used my “English Meadow” china from Roy Kirkham. And for my warm beverage, I chose the black tea from Teatulia–organic, affordable, and available in the tea section of Target. The label’s description of “smooth & rich with no bitterness” is entirely accurate. (Loose leaf and full leaf filter bags available online!)
What are you reading with your tea these days?