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When Autumn Leaves: A Novel by Amy S. Foster
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When Autumn Leaves: A Novel (original 2009; edition 2009)

by Amy S. Foster

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1221098,704 (3.37)9
QuiteTheHuman's review
When Autumn Leaves
Amy S Foster

Avening, a small island-town off the pacific coast, is host to curious happenings and an ageless woman called Autumn. This woman is the town witch/pagan/wisewoman/sage. She is known and respected as a source of knowledge and purveyor of magic, and she is looking for an apprentice. The people of Avening are as unusual as their home is, and possess unique gifts of their own. Their individual stories, begin, unravel or end as they discover and develop their talents and seek Autumn’s guidance. Foster commit’s the common Canadian crime of national disassociation - though the story is set in Canada, the characters are largely from the American south or speak with British slang, and many international cities are mentioned in geographic and historic reference, while I can’t recall the mention of Vancouver (maybe once or twice?), Avening’s nearest city. Still, the novel is charming and optimistic. Her characters are very well-developed, their stories mostly engaging, the magic mostly sweet and believable. I find the reference to celtic/pagan/wiccan tradition and belief to be just the right touch for the world she creates. The tone is spot on, Practical Magic meets Divine Secrets of the YAYA Sisterhood...or something. When Autumn Leaves is a delightful debut. I look forward to seeing what else Foster comes out with.

PS: It’s entirely possible that Foster’s disassociation from Canada has more to do with her American publishers than her original vision. Just a thought… ( )
  QuiteTheHuman | Aug 13, 2010 |
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Showing 10 of 10
I really wanted to love this story. The first 50 pages made me think about a wonderful affinity to the enchanting stories one of my favorite comfort read authors, [[Sarah Addison Allen]] writes. There is just the right amount of magical realism to make this a fantasy escapism read but with a quaint small town quality to it. For a debut novel, it is not bad and yes, I am a sucker for a book set in the Pacific Northwest. So, why no great love for this one? Well, for one, the story's focus tends to ramble and jump around from character to character without any clear explanation of the 'whys' and 'hows'. Sadly, the book doesn't come with a crystal ball to shine insight on the 'bits' left out from the story that would have been helpful. Also, it only took me 6 days to read the story from start to finish and even in that short time span, I had managed to completely forget a couple of the characters, so not exactly a memorable read for me. The story is quaint, charming and infuses little things that we take for granted in everyday life with a slight magical touch but overall it was just an average read for me. ( )
  lkernagh | Jun 27, 2014 |
Characters and plot were too underdeveloped. For such a short book, the bulk of it was spent haphazardly introducing characters. You end up quite near the end wondering how she could possibly weave everything together in fewer than 40 pages (hint: she can't). For all that she spent so much time introducing and examining one character after another, it still wasn't enough to make you care a fig about most of them, and many of them you spent so much time meeting never really appeared again. There was no sense of authority, and the writing was weak. I actually wondered if I'd accidentally gotten a hold of a literary selfie. Needed more work. Should've known from the title, but I'd heard the quirky town would reel you in. Not so for me. ( )
  eslee | Mar 3, 2014 |
It wasn't the way this book was written that made me drop this book. I felt it was written well and I was expecting a little movie like Practical Magic charm. What made me drop this was the affairs that were in it. Normally this probably wouldn't bother me. But, I'm sure you've guessed it. But I recently found out that my husband has been having an affair. I was disgusted by the way the author appraoched this topic. I don't see myself picking it up in the future.
  butterflybaby | Nov 22, 2010 |
When Autumn Leaves
Amy S Foster

Avening, a small island-town off the pacific coast, is host to curious happenings and an ageless woman called Autumn. This woman is the town witch/pagan/wisewoman/sage. She is known and respected as a source of knowledge and purveyor of magic, and she is looking for an apprentice. The people of Avening are as unusual as their home is, and possess unique gifts of their own. Their individual stories, begin, unravel or end as they discover and develop their talents and seek Autumn’s guidance. Foster commit’s the common Canadian crime of national disassociation - though the story is set in Canada, the characters are largely from the American south or speak with British slang, and many international cities are mentioned in geographic and historic reference, while I can’t recall the mention of Vancouver (maybe once or twice?), Avening’s nearest city. Still, the novel is charming and optimistic. Her characters are very well-developed, their stories mostly engaging, the magic mostly sweet and believable. I find the reference to celtic/pagan/wiccan tradition and belief to be just the right touch for the world she creates. The tone is spot on, Practical Magic meets Divine Secrets of the YAYA Sisterhood...or something. When Autumn Leaves is a delightful debut. I look forward to seeing what else Foster comes out with.

PS: It’s entirely possible that Foster’s disassociation from Canada has more to do with her American publishers than her original vision. Just a thought… ( )
  QuiteTheHuman | Aug 13, 2010 |
'When Autumn leaves' is a sweet little fantasy, set in a small magical town called Avening in British Columbia. The mysterious and beautiful local sorceress Autumn Avening is trying to find her replacement. Each chapter reads like a short story - each focusing on a different woman living in Avening, each with a magical gift, and each a possible candidate to take over as Autumn's successor.

This is a lovely little novel, well written and charming. The characters Foster chose to focus on came alive as real, fragile but beautiful and resilient women. I could identify with Ellie's feelings of invisibility and social awkwardness, and Stella's disconnect and restlessness. However, there were several characters revealed to be important at the end who received no insight, background or development, which was disappointing.

I felt the novel could have been fleshed out more, there were plenty of hints that never went anywhere, and characters who were sadly ignored and underdeveloped. A few extra chapters could have really gone a long way. I still thought this was a lovely little jewel of a book, and one I very much enjoyed reading. I will be interested in reading whatever Foster comes out with next.

Highly recommended to fans of Charles de Lint - the theme and setting greatly reminded me of his 'Newford' books. ( )
  catfantastic | Apr 21, 2010 |
I liked this, but... Amy Foster is a song writer and maybe that predisposed me to this thought, but I felt like I was in some ways reading a song. To me it seemed as though she left a lot unsaid or not really completed but other things she wrapped a little too neatly. It also had a stonger fantasy aspect than I expected. I don't mind fantasy but the type that showed up in the story was, for me, reaching. It wasn't a bad story, but l didn't feel it was as fleshed out as it could have been and should have had a better indication in the synopsis of the fantasy aspect of the story,. ( )
1 vote Readermom68 | Apr 15, 2010 |
When Autumn, the town of Avening's resident witch, gets news that she must move away from her beloved town because of a promotion to a higher coven, she must find a way replace herself as town witch. But who in Avening is in tune enough with her own personal magic to take over this huge responsibility?

Autumn has a list of likely candidates for the position, but she takes it upon herself to put an add in the paper seeking an apprentice. She has a year to find a high witch and the women who will be part of her coven - but how can she get them to open their eyes and believe in the magic in their lives?

This was actually surprisingly really good. I was a little thrown off when I realized that each chapter was a (loosely related) short story. As some of you might know, I am not a fan of short stories and after recently reading Olive Kitteridge, which sadly was a massive fail for me, I honestly thought this would fall in that same category. But, to my endless surprise, this was really good. I felt that I could relate to each story and each character in one way or another.

Throughout the book we encounter many of the town's gifted and unusual residents... but in the end who will she choose? Will it be Ellie the invisible researcher - who thanks to a magical pair of shoes becomes the life of the party? Ana - a married woman who falls in love with another woman's husband? Stella - a healer who needs change in her life and can only do that by capturing lightning in a bottle? The letters continue to arrive and, as each applicant's story entwines with Autumn's, the suspense begins to grow as to who her successor will be.

I was initially intrigued by the title and the (oh, so pretty) cover. But the tales in this book were all heart-warming, touching and, on more than one occasion, brought a tear to my eye. Although magic plays a big part in this novel, the subject matter was anything but light. These were real women, with real, everyday problems - none were perfect, but each was endearing in her own way.

As a woman, I felt that this book called to me. These women were brave, strong, and I saw aspects of myself as well as of my family and friends in some, if not all, of the characters. This is a heart-warming debut of coming to terms with the magical things we take for granted every day - our friends, our community, and, most of all, ourselves.

All in all, this is an exceptionally imaginative story riddled with vivid and quirky characters - making it a delightfully magical escape. It is a charming, cozy and very enjoyable book that I highly recommend. ( )
  bookwormygirl | Dec 15, 2009 |
I initially picked up this book because I thought the cover was so beautiful. I admit it…I judged a book by its cover. When I read that it was a book laced with some magic, I knew I had to read it.

I am very confused by the whole book. It wasn’t the story that was confusing but my feelings about the book that I can’t sort out. Part of me fought the story almost the whole way through and I have no idea why. I had unwarranted high expectations and I was quickly disappointed that the writing didn’t flow as well as I was hoping. I was constantly being pulled out of the story because of some comment that didn’t seem to fit or some phrasing that just felt off.

The story is set in the town of Avening and each chapter reads like a short story. Each is about a different person. The common link between them all being Avening and magic, as well as Autumn, a woman who appears throughout the whole book.

Autumn puts an ad out in the paper which causes each of these women to become more open to the magic in their lives and encourages them to think about what that means.

Although this is not the best book I have read this year, it is a nice quick read if you are looking for some magic. The way Foster’s stories unfold began to grow on me and by the end of the book I was surprisingly pleased with how the story wrapped up. However, in general, the stories are left fairly open and I can see Foster writing a sequel to the book.

Even though I had my issues with the book, I did enjoy it. If she does write a sequel, I can definitely see myself buying it. I think I would enjoy it more now that I know what to expect from her writing. What can I say…I am a sucker for books with a little magic. ( )
1 vote msjessicamae | Nov 18, 2009 |
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.
  cemming | Nov 13, 2009 |
Avening is a small town in the Pacific Northwest; a seemingly normal town populated by people with magical potential. Autumn is a member of the Jaen, a group who watch over and encourage humanity in us all. The Jaen have decided that it is time for Autumn to move on and have directed her to select and mentor her replacement; she has one year to pick from a group of fifty. She sets up a contest starting with an essay with the winner getting her Book of Shadows that contains magical knowledge that will enable her replacement to lead/guide the community. On Autumn's last day in town she has selected 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.
While Avening is not an actual place, it seemed that it could be any small town with people that you have already met.
  sally.erickson | Nov 7, 2009 |
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