In a Nutshell:
This book is typical Alice Hoffman or Sarah Addison. It has a heaping dose of magic woven into a rich, textural small town here a group of eccentric women with troubled relationships live. This book is about a small East coast town and three generations of the Sparrow family. The Sparrow family had lived since colonial days, with rumors and whispers of witchcraft surrounding them. And you soon see why. Each woman in the Sparrow family at the age of 13 discovers what magical talent they were born with. As many talents usually are mixed blessings, magical ones are no exception. It is the magic talents between the matriarch and her daughter that drove them apart. And now there is a new Sparrow girl about to turn 13, and her talent is to see people's deaths. And it is this talent that begins a scandalous chain of events that throw the three generations of Sparrow women back together again and resolve years of issues between them. As the family reunites in the family home called "Cake house", named for the excessive ginger breading on the old Victorian, they reacquaint themselves with old friends and lovers in their home town. So there are many subplots that underpin the main characters through out this book.
I really liked this book. First, I love big old Victorian homes and a lot of the plot takes place in and around this wonderful house called "Cake House". There is a gorgeous garden described in the back of the house, and the town sounds small and quaint. The environment, so well described, really draws you into this magical world. I loved the subplot love stories told in this book, and I also loved the subplot of Stella Sparrow and her teenage friends as well. Teenage angst, love and magic can always be a fun diversion in a story, and this one sure does the job. Some critics of the book complain that all the subplots in the book are confusing and Hoffman does not have time to go deep enough into any of them to have you care enough about them. I disagree. I think the subplots are just enough to get the flavor of the town and the people. The town is so well described that you wish you were there. It was a very fun read, lyrical and mystical. I kind of escaped there every time I read on and after all, isn't reading supposed to do that?