The Peach Keeper by Sarah Addison Allen

The Peach Keeper by Sarah Addison Allen is one of my anticipated releases in 2011. I have loved Sarah Addison Allen’s books ever since I read Garden Spells. Her books are my first foray into magic realism and I keep saying I should read more from the genre but I haven’t had the chance to do so. I couldn’t help but read The Peach Keeper as soon as I could get my grubby hands on it because I knew I was going to like this one just as much as her other novels.

Here’s the summary from Goodreads:

It’s the dubious distinction of thirty-year-old Willa Jackson to hail from a fine old Southern family of means that met with financial ruin generations ago. The Blue Ridge Madam — built by Willa’s great-great-grandfather during Walls of Water’s heyday, and once the town’s grandest home — has stood for years as a lonely monument to misfortune and scandal. And Willa herself has long strived to build a life beyond the brooding Jackson family shadow. No easy task in a town shaped by years of tradition and the well-marked boundaries of the haves and have-nots.

But Willa has lately learned that an old classmate — socialite do-gooder Paxton Osgood — of the very prominent Osgood family, has restored the Blue Ridge Madam to her former glory, with plans to open a top-flight inn. Maybe, at last, the troubled past can be laid to rest while something new and wonderful rises from its ashes. But what rises instead is a skeleton, found buried beneath the property’s lone peach tree, and certain to drag up dire consequences along with it.

For the bones — those of charismatic traveling salesman Tucker Devlin, who worked his dark charms on Walls of Water seventy-five years ago — are not all that lay hidden out of sight and mind. Long-kept secrets surrounding the troubling remains have also come to light, seemingly heralded by a spate of sudden strange occurrences throughout the town.

Now, thrust together in an unlikely friendship, united by a full-blooded mystery, Willa and Paxton must confront the dangerous passions and tragic betrayals that once bound their families — and uncover truths of the long-dead that have transcended time and defied the grave to touch the hearts and souls of the living.

Wow, look at that summary. Quite long, isn’t it? I think it provides enough background about the story and I don’t want to add anymore because I don’t want to give too much away. Going into the novel, I had a feeling it was going to be different from Sarah Addison Allen’s usual because of the mystery involved. It is a bit different in that sense and also because the subtle magic and the mouth-watering descriptions of food that has become Sarah Addison Allen’s signature was absent in this one. The usual themes of friendship and romance are still present though, which made me a very happy reader because those are what I love in her books. As with her other books, the perspective changes based on the two main characters, Willa and Paxton. Both of these women and even the men in their lives, Colin and Sebastian, went to the same high school together. It’s funny how they were never good friends when they were teenagers but their lives now intersect in ways that they never expected. All four of these characters went through big changes in their lives throughout the course of the book. My favorite chapter was the one called, “The Joker, The Stick Man, The Princess and The Freak”, when these four unexpectedly had a meal together and the fascinating conversation that ensued. I guess it’s not surprising that another favorite scene of mine was when there was a cameo from a Garden Spells character.

I’ve said this before and I’ll probably end up saying it again: there’s something about Sarah Addison Allen’s books that make them good comfort reads. I’ve seen some people classify her books as chick lit or contemporary romance and while that makes sense, I find that her characters have much more depth than other characters in that genre. Like in The Peach Keeper, there is romance in the story but it was never the focus. It was more about the characters learning more about themselves and developing relationships that let them grow as persons more than anything else. The Peach Keeper is a delightful read and it’s the kind of book that I feel like I could recommend to just about anyone. I was afraid I was going to experience a reading slump because I wasn’t feeling the books that I’ve picked up lately. The Peach Keeper got me out of that almost-slump. If you’ve never read a Sarah Addison Allen (her name is quite a mouthful and I keep repeating it in my review) book before then you could start with this one. If you have recommendations similar to her style of writing, please mention it in the comments. I’d love to read more books like this.

Other reviews:
Chick Lit Reviews
The Reading Fever
Make of it what you will

20 thoughts on “The Peach Keeper by Sarah Addison Allen

  1. This book cemented my belief that you can never go wrong with Sarah Addison Allen. Garden Spells is still my favorite, but I think this one is a close second.:)

    LOL at “grubby hands”.:D

  2. I already have my copy of Garden Spells thanks to Kwesi, and I can’t wait to get started on that. 🙂 I think I’ve mentioned this to you before, but if you’re looking for similar authors, I think Lani Diane Rich is one of them. Try The Fortune Quilt or A Little Ray of Sunshine. 🙂

    • Kwesi gave you Garden Spells as a gift? 🙂 I still have to send out a copy of that book to the winner of my latest giveaway. I’m waiting for the copy that I asked Fully Booked to transfer to Trinoma.

      Thanks for the rec! I’ll check out those titles on Goodreads. 🙂

  3. Oh, wasn’t that chapter great? I just loved all four of the characters so much that it was a treat getting them together for once. I foresee rereading this one very soon in my future.

    • Yes, I loved that chapter! When I saw the title for that section, I knew it was going to be good. 🙂 Sarah Addison Allen’s books are really comfort reads, aren’t they? So tempting to reread them all over and over again.

  4. So the common thread between all her books is friendship and romance? That does sound like a comfort read. Thanks for the review. I love the cover for this one btw. I think it’s my favorite of the SAA covers.

    • Yes, Holly, all of her books focus on friendship and a little romance for the two main characters. I really can’t wait to see what you think of her books, I hope you like them. 🙂

      I do love the cover for this one. SAA has been lucky with her covers though, all of them are pretty.

  5. I keep thinking I’ve commented on this review but I guess not..

    Good to hear this newest SAA is a winner. I still need to track it down. *eyes bank account*

    But! I do have a recommendation for you: I just finished a book by Liane Moriarty called THREE WISHES all because of Nomes’ recent review of her latest WHAT ALICE FORGOT (which I couldn’t get yet). Anyways, it was hilarious and sad and all about families and love and just generally really wonderful. I’d classify it as chick-lit AND the author is Jaclyn Moriarty’s sister! So I think you should check her out if you are looking for more chick-type books.

    • Michelle, I hope you get to read this soon! You were one of the bloggers who influenced me to read SAA. 😀

      Ahhhhh, I ordered What Alice Forgot from the Book Depository last week! I decided to get this also because of Nomes and I think it’s awesome that Liane is Jaclyn Moriarty’s sister. I’m going to add Three Wishes to my wishlist and get it the next time I order from the Book Depository or maybe I could get the Kindle edition. Are you going to review it on your blog?

      • Errr…yes. I need to review it for sure. I just need to get my laziness conquered and get it done 😉 I told you I’ve been bad lately – maybe once this baby comes I’ll be a little more proactive…

      • LOL would love to see your review of it but no pressure. I know how hard it must be when you’re expecting the baby. At least you have a lot of books waiting to be reviewed. 🙂

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