When Autumn Leaves

( 14 )

Overview

In Avening, a tiny town on the Pacific coast, it's hard not to believe in magic. This is a town where the shoes in the window always fit, where you can buy a love potion at the corner shop, and where the woods at the outskirts of town just might be the door to another world. And, of course, there's Autumn, Avening's beloved resident witch. From what's known of its mythical founding, Avening has always been a haven for people who are a little bit different, a place where they can...

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When Autumn Leaves: A Novel

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Overview

In Avening, a tiny town on the Pacific coast, it's hard not to believe in magic. This is a town where the shoes in the window always fit, where you can buy a love potion at the corner shop, and where the woods at the outskirts of town just might be the door to another world. And, of course, there's Autumn, Avening's beloved resident witch. From what's known of its mythical founding, Avening has always been a haven for people who are a little bit different, a place where they can come to discover what makes them so special.

When Autumn receives news that she's been promoted to a higher coven, she also learns she has to replace herself. But who in Avening is in tune enough with her own personal magic to take over the huge responsibility of town witch? Autumn has a list of thirteen women and men who just might have what it takes-but how can she get them to open their eyes to the magic in their lives?

This endlessly surprising and heart-warming debut is the story of coming to terms with the magical things we take for granted every day-our friends, our community, and, most of all, ourselves.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Foster's clumsy but ingratiating first novel is set in the “enchanting” little town of Avening, off the coast of British Columbia. Beyond its much-touted charm, Avening holds magical secrets, the most prominent being town witch Autumn. Autumn's bucolic lifestyle is interrupted when she finds out she's being admitted to a higher coven in an unknown location and that her first task is to find a replacement for herself among the women of the town. From there, readers meet a cast of offbeat women, each with her own special talents: shy Ellie, who can make herself invisible; middle-aged Stella, the local advice columnist, who is also a healer; and Molly, who has been hiding her preternatural gifts since she was a little girl. Unfortunately, Foster's attempts to charm and enchant are too heavy-handed and better suited to a YA offering, and her intriguing plot is subverted by wooden dialogue, predictability and an amateur approach to characters. (Oct.)
Library Journal
In the tiny town of Avening in the Pacific Northwest, life hums with a peculiar sort of energy. Some call the town enchanted; others call it quirky. But all would agree that it is a special sort of hamlet, populated by some rather intriguing people. Perhaps the most intriguing is the town witch and wise woman. An individual of extraordinary, even magical talents, Autumn Avening is ready to retire—and must find a replacement from among the local denizens. With one year to choose, Autumn begins keeping an ever closer watch on her friends and neighbors, looking for just the right candidate. Through her eyes, we get intimate glimpses of the locals of Avening—strong men and women whose stories are both heartwarming and heartbreaking. VERDICT Loose ends in Foster's strong debut indicate sequel potential for those who enjoy following characters from book to book. Fans of Alice Hoffman (Practical Magic) and Joanne Harris (Chocolat) will love getting to know the residents of this cozy, charming little town. Highly recommended.—Leigh Wright, Bridgewater, NJ
Kirkus Reviews
Small-town witch looks for her replacement. The precise significance of Autumn's residence in the village of Avening isn't clear until the end, but it's evident from the beginning that she loves her quirky town (the novel's most appealing element) and all its mysteries. Located on an island in the Pacific Northwest, Avening is one of those idyllic spots with cozy bookstores and cafes-and, in this case, a rather high proportion of residents with special gifts: astral projection, mind-reading, invisibility, spell-casting, that sort of thing. Though individual abilities are generally kept secret, and the town seems like any other, all that magic lends the air a certain electricity. When a sister in the ancient coven of Jaen comes to tell Autumn it's time to leave her post, she's given a list of Avening residents from which she must choose a coven of 13 and a leader. Ellie seems an unlikely prospect. Withdrawn and sometimes invisible (literally) to the town, she is overtaken by a spell at the annual winter solstice party and loses the ability to speak, from that point on singing everything she needs to say. Ellie's friend Stella has a more straightforward talent. The granddaughter of an Appalachian medicine woman, she keeps a fully stocked herb cellar and is attempting to catch lightning in a bottle. Ana has until now lived a life without magic, but she goes to Autumn for help when she begins an extramarital affair; she and her lover learn how to bend time and memory so as to extricate themselves from their messy situation. Piper, another candidate, is diagnosed with terminal cancer and begins traveling to a different dimension, where she might escape death. A charming debut in the traditionof Practical Magic and The Witches of Eastwick.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781590202555
  • Publisher: Overlook Press, The
  • Publication date: 10/6/2009
  • Pages: 304
  • Sales rank: 949,041
  • Product dimensions: 5.40 (w) x 7.90 (h) x 0.90 (d)

Meet the Author

Amy Foster 's first foray into writing was coming up with some lyrics as a favor for her father, who was producing then-unknown Josh Groban. The song "Home to Stay" made it on the record, which went on to sell over 5 million copies. Since then, Amy has written songs for Diana Krall, Eric Benet, Michael Buble, Destiny's Child, and Andrea Bocelli, who performed her song at the 2006 Olympics. This is her first novel.
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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 3.5
( 14 )
Rating Distribution

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(3)

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(7)

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Sort by: Showing all of 14 Customer Reviews
  • Posted November 13, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    I Also Recommend:

    Foster's robust, spirited characters offset a flimsy storyline

    When Autumn, the mysterious shaman of Avening, solicits written entries from local women vying for a position as her apprentice, she's searching for her own replacement. But what, exactly, does Autumn do? the townspeople question. No one knows. Intuitively, everyone knows Autumn corrals magic. And so, one by one, curious letters arrive in Autumn's mailbox, each with a different woman's perspective on the job in question, what it might entail, and why she wants it.

    In When Autumn Leaves, Amy Foster permits guarded entrance into Autumn's magical world, where women are trained to harness different magical gifts only to separate, and even less insight into the true purpose of the enchanted world she's envisioned. Leaving room for a sequel? A distinct possibility, though Foster's lack of clarity here may hurt the future of the franchise.

    Will Autumn choose Sylvie, who recently lost her mother? Ana, a teacher in love with a married man? Ellie the invisible researcher? Stella, a healer who captures lightning in a bottle? Or another. The letters continue to arrive and, as each applicant's story twines into Autumn's, the story grows taut with suspense.

    Foster creates an amorphously lovely town, one that strong women find curiously inviting for no singular reason. Slightly muddled and frumpy, though beloved, Foster's characters shine with crisp edges and clear purpose. If only the plotline could stand up to her character development.

    A fun fall read with finely-tuned focus on the strength of women, though the real feat here is that, despite a tightly-wrapped ending, you'll wish there was more.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted August 15, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    A magical tale

    Avening is a small town on the Pacific coast; a magical hamlet populated by people with psychic powers. Autumn is a member of the group Jaen, who watches over humanity as they have even before mankind invented the wheel. She has spent a considerably long time in Avening, whose residents see her as a kind witch keeping track of the magical undercurrents that encourage natural gifts to bloom.

    Now the Jaen has promoted Autumn and directed her to select and mentor her replacement; she has one year to pick from a group of fifty seemingly worthy people. She initiates a contest starting with an essay with the winner getting her Book of Shadows that contains magical knowledge that will enable the next witch to get off to a good start because first impressions are critical. On Autumn's last day in town she has select twelve people to join the Jaen but finding the thirteenth who will be her successor and the leader proves more difficult. The clock is ticking with only hours left and Autumn doesn't have a clue where to find the thirteenth.

    There are many believable characters with a wide range of differing personalities and talents throughout the small town, but the star is Avening, a remarkable place that is the product of one woman's dream. Even with a thin plot, this is a remarkably enchanting fantasy as each potentially chosen one brings differing magical skills to the table adding to Autumn's dilemma. Character driven, fans who relish something dramatically different will encourage Autumn while singing the Lovin' Spoonful's "Did you ever have to make up your mind; Pick up on one and leave the other behind; It's not often easy and not often kind; Did you ever have to make up".

    Harriet Klausner

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 17, 2013

    I enjoyed this book

    Good book, worth reading

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  • Posted December 27, 2009

    very good book

    I really enjoyed it.

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  • Posted December 1, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    Like the light in the bottle it captured me

    I was drawn to the book of course by its appearance, Its fall, and I was looking for fall
    flavor or books to stock our resort cottages, my guests love to curl up with a good read.
    Well, the title was a good trick, no autumn leaves falling here, just a name sake, very clever.
    This little jewel was a quick read that offers an escape to a world that is captivating and magical, reminding us how we are all so connected in our communities, wether we know it or not.
    It got wonderful reviews by our book club and our guests.
    Many have said they are buying it and passing it on to other gal pals.
    Thanks, Amy
    Wonderful first time out! Keep em coming!

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted November 6, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    I Also Recommend:

    Lacking

    I felt like the story was all over the place. You read about so many different people that I felt I never really got to know any of the characters. I kept thinking it would return and explain more about the characters, but it really didn't. Overall I would not recommend this book.

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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    Posted November 25, 2010

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    Posted September 26, 2009

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