The Girl Who Chased the Moonby Sarah Addison Allen Published 16 Mar 2010
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In her latest enchanting novel, New York Times bestselling author Sarah Addison Allen invites you to a quirky little Southern town with more magic than a full Carolina moon. Here two very different women discover how to find their place in the world--no matter how out of place they feel.
Emily Benedict came to Mullaby, North Carolina, hoping to solve at least some of the riddles surrounding her mother’s life. Such as, why did Dulcie Shelby leave her hometown so suddenly? And why did she vow never to return? But the moment Emily enters the house where her mother grew up and meets the grandfather she never knew--a reclusive, real-life gentle giant--she realizes that mysteries aren’t solved in Mullaby, they’re a way of life: Here are rooms where the wallpaper changes to suit your mood. Unexplained lights skip across the yard at midnight. And a neighbor bakes hope in the form of cakes.
Everyone in Mullaby adores Julia Winterson’s cakes--which is a good thing, because Julia can’t seem to stop baking them. She offers them to satisfy the town’s sweet tooth but also in the hope of rekindling the love she fears might be lost forever. Flour, eggs, milk, and sugar . . . Baking is the only language the proud but vulnerable Julia has to communicate what is truly in her heart. But is it enough to call back to her those she’s hurt in the past?
Can a hummingbird cake really bring back a lost love? Is there really a ghost dancing in Emily’s backyard? The answers are never what you expect. But in this town of lovable misfits, the unexpected fits right in.
"The Girl Who Chased the Moon" Reviews
This should really be 2.5 stars, but I give the benefit of the extra .5 for the entertainment value.
There were things I really loved about this book, and there were things I really didn't like about this book. Mainly, I loved Addison Allen's descriptions of both the normal (the small town, the brown leaves, the lake, etc) and the magical elements (Win's warmth, Stella's husband's black powdery soot left on the legs and necks of other women, Sawyer seeing/sensing sweets, the wallpaper, etc). She has an amazing ability to bring the reader in with those senses and it's easy to see and feel everything the characters do.
Sadly, the characters were so one-dimensional I couldn't connect with any of them. I fell easily into Addison Allen's world, but felt nothing for the characters within.
I felt like she had two great ideas for two different books (Julia's sort of chick-lit story and Emily's sort of young adult romance story) but didn't have either flushed out enough to stand alone so she pushed them together. It kind of works with back story, but the characters remain flat. Julia's mental health issues feels forced and just there without really being part of the character, a surface element. We get no real emotion from Emily whose mother, and only family she knew of, died. It's just something that has happened to her, and she acts as if her mother is just off in France or somewhere else while she's been sent to the grandfather she never knew. Addison Allen says that Emily and her mother were close, but she never really gets that across from the character's POV, the reader never feels it.
If Addison Allen took as much time with her character development as she did with her descriptions of the world around them, this would have been a five-star book.
Two Christmases ago, my co-worker gave me a book. No surprise there, but the particular book she presented me with was unlike anything I had ever come across before. The book was Garden Spells by Sarah Addison Allen and the genre was magical realism. As soon as I started in, I was lost. I was in love. Upon sinking into the story, I found myself awash in mouth-watering food, complicated yet beautiful relationships, and surrounded by intriguing people with a little touch of magic. Did I mention that the book was set in the south? Yes. Perfection. So it should come as no surprise when I say I was somewhat eagerly anticipating Allen's newest release The Girl Who Chased the Moon . I didn't know much about it, expect that it would be centered on BBQ and set in a small North Carolina town. But knowing who the author was, I knew it was gonna be good. I really didn't need much more incentive than that.
Following the death of her beloved, activist mother Dulcie, Emily Benedict is sent to live with the grandfather she never knew she had in the small town of Mullaby, NC. It's hard enough to find your place as a teen in a new town without discovering that your grandfather is actually a shy, reclusive giant, and that your seemingly perfect mother was really quite cruel and openly disliked as a teenager. Needless to say Emily is feeling a little lost and sorely overwhelmed when she meets the strange and decidedly attractive Win Coffey whose cryptic references to their 'history' leave Emily rather curious about the past and determined to uncover the secrets surrounding her mother.
Living next door to Emily is Julia Winterson - baker extraordinaire and a woman who is counting the days until she can escape Mullaby. Having experienced a fairly troubled and turbulent youth in Mullaby herself, Julia is quick to welcome Emily and is one of the few who don't hold her mother's actions against her. Emily is sure there is something special about Julia - hoping she will be able to lend some understanding to her mother's history - and their first meeting only confirms it:
Julia laughed. It was a great laugh, and hearing it was like stepping into a spot of sunshine. That she came bearing cake seemed oddly fitting. It was like she was made of cake, light and pretty and decorated on the outside -- with her sweet laugh and pink streak to her hair -- but it was anyone's guess what was on the inside. Emily suspected it might be dark.
Don't you want to meet this woman? I know I do.
Once again Sarah Addison Allen has ensnared me with her airy and enchanting storytelling. Emily was sweet and endearing in her curious, youthful confusion but I absolutely adored Julia. Adored. Admired. Aime. I want to spend the day baking with her or just follow her around in the hope that some of her loveliness would magically rub off on me. Her story alone is too beautiful for words and had me constantly gasping with delight. What's more, the town of Mullaby itself was also practically fit to bursting with quirky and distinct characters - all southern and all steeped in tradition and BBQ. How could you not love a place where people can see trails of butter and sugar in the air, ghost lights dancing in the trees, and wallpaper that changes according to your mood? Not to mention the constant references to Julia's delectable cakes that just might have sent me racing to the kitchen. I just knew it was gonna be good. And it was.
I enjoy reading books by Sarah Addison Allen. They are so comforting and familiar. This is the story of Emily, a young girl who has lost her mother, and returns to the town where her mother grew up. She goes to live with her grandfather who is a giant, over six feet tall. Emily is not exactly welcome in town because of the problems her mother caused so long ago. It also tells of various town folks, mainly focusing on Julia. You learn of her past and how this is impacting her future. Julia bakes cakes and there is a particular reason she bakes cakes.
Sarah Addison Allen is a food lover, there is no denying that. In each of her books I have read, food is a big focus in the book. In this one, you have a baker who bakes mouth-watering concoctions. After this story, I have a huge desire to make a hummingbird cake. This woman truly has a sweet tooth.
Each of her stories has elements of magical realism - I loved the story of the wallpaper changing based on the moods of the occupant of the room, the reason that Emily 'chased the moon', etc.
I listened to this one via audio. For the most part, the audio was just OK. The narrator changed her voice for the male characters in the book, and I didn't care the voice that was used. However, I had a family member visiting recently and I happened to be listening to the audio while making dinner. Family member (who is a huge book reader) loved the narrator and wants to start listening to audios now. She found it quite soothing to listen to someone read to her. Awesome!
4.5 stars. Loved it - characters were so 'climb into my heart' kind of people. Loved the magical elements, Vance, the frog, Julia, Emily. Onto the keeper shelf.
I enjoyed this, it's a little book filled with unusual magic :) I loved the house and it's strange wallpaper, I loved the Grandfather, I loved the whole plot!
This is a book I'll probably keep on my shelf, rather than take it back to the second hand store for someone else to buy :)
This was my first Sarah Addison Allen book, and I am utterly enchanted. I can't believe that I've waited so long to read this. I want to thank my dear friend Carrie for pushing these books until I finally listened and picked one up. I loved the mix of summer heat in a small town, delicious food, and magic. My only complaint is that the story didn't last long enough! I didn't want to leave the town of Mullaby or these characters.
The Girl Who Chased The Moon follows two story lines that converge in the small town of Mullaby, North Carolina. Emily Benedict has just arrived in Mullaby to live with her grandfather, after the sudden death of her mother. Apparently Emily's mom Dulcie grew up in the small southern town, although she's never told Emily anything about her life there or the tragedy she left behind.
Julia Winterson grew up in Mullaby and has only been back for the past year and a half, trying to get her finances in order after her father died and left his restaurant to her. Everyone in town has fallen in love with the delicious cakes that Julia bakes daily. But her goal is to stay another six months and escape back to her life in Baltimore, before she's forced to dig up any more of her past. Especially the part that involves a very persistent and charming man named Sawyer.
I loved both Emily and Julia's stories and could have read a full book about both of them. Family secrets, love lost and found again, a giant, and wallpaper that changes with your moods, The Girl Who Chased The Moon was a perfect first read of 2015. Now I need to read all the books by this author!
Love Triangle Factor: None
Cliffhanger Scale: Standalone