For ages 9 to 12
Simon and Schuster, 2001, 978-0-689-84934-3
When Saffron finally learns how to read, she discovers two important things. Unlike the names of her siblings (Cadmium, Indigo, and Rose) her name is not on the color chart that is pinned to the kitchen wall. For some reason, her name is not a paint color and this is a very disturbing discovery to make. Why would her mother, Eve Casson, name all the other children after paint colors and not her?
The second thing Saffy (this Saffron’s nick name) learns, she finds out by accident. Thanks to the slip of someone’s tongue, Saffy finds out that she was not born into the Casson family. She was adopted. In fact, she is the daughter of Eve Casson’s sister, and is therefore Caddy, Indigo, and Rose’s cousin instead of being their sister.
Finding out that she was adopted turns Saffy’s world upside down. She has nothing to connect her to her dead mother except Grandpa. After his daughter died in a car crash in Italy, Grandpa was the one who drove all the way to Siena to bring three-year-old Saffy back to England. Even though Grandpa is now elderly and does speak or connect with the world, Saffy loves him and is close to him. Her name is the only thing Grandpa has said since he lost the ability to speak.
Ten year’s after that dreadful drive from Italy, Grandpa dies. Eve and her husband share his will with their children, thinking that they are all old enough to deal with this. Since most of Grandpa’s earthly possessions were sold or fell apart long ago, Indigo will not be able to have Grandpa’s car, and Caddy will not get his house in Wales. Included with his will is a note saying that he leaves Saffron “Her angel in the garden.”
At first no one knows what the note is talking about, but then Saffy remembers that there was a stone angel in the garden in Siena, a stone angel she loved when she was little. Her Grandpa knew that Saffy loved the statue and so he left it to her. The problem is that Grandpa did not bring the angel back to England. It is still in Italy, and therefore Saffy will never be able to get it back. She will never be able to reconnect with her past.
As you read this book it is hard not to fall in love with the decidedly peculiar Casson family. Their lives are full of odd adventures and colorful characters, and at times they all seem to be quite out of touch with reality. Thankfully, this really does not seem to matter very much because the Cassons are a team. They are bound together by the love and the fierce loyalty that they feel for one another.
This is the first Casson family story.