I have a few guilty pleasures in my life; cheez whiz on celery, using my Tassimo to excessive measures and reading Sarah Addison Allen. I find her writing whimsical; maybe that’s a stretch, but her books seem to take me on a magical and unexpected adventure each time I read them. When I found out she had a new book coming out, I couldn’t WAIT to read it. Of course I saved it for the weekend, so I’d have one on one time with it… okay this is beginning to make me sound really weird.
Let’s back it up, Sarah Addison Allen’s newest novel, “The Peach Keeper” is the story of the “The Joker, The Stick Man, The Princess and The Freak”. Like every Sarah Addison Allen story it involves food, magic and love. Be advised that if you haven’t read her before, don’t let the last sentence scare you out of picking up this book. Instead of coming off like a “typical” love story, Allen’s got the amazing ability to make the reader throw caution to the wind and enter a world where the ordinary isn’t so ordinary after all.
This story takes place in the small town of Walls of Water, North Carolina and it involves the Jackson and Osgood families. The two main characters of this novel are Willa Jackson and Paxton Osgood. Willa (the Joker) is well-known around town for her endless pranks during high school. Her joking ways are behind her now that her Father has passed. We’re introduced to a quiet and reclusive woman who owns a sporting good store. Her interest in the actual sporting goods world is minimal, but she wants to make her Father proud of her, as opposed to the way she embarrassed him with her prankster ways when he was living. We are also introduced to Paxton, the high school Princess who lives in her parents home, tip toeing around her life as to not disturb her Mother who is full of opinions. She is the active president of the The Women’s Society Club; which was started by Willa’s and Paxton’s grandmothers who were once best friends.
Willa and Paxton had little to no interaction in high school; however, they have an involvement in each others lives in the form of a house named the Blue Ridge Madam. This home once belonged to the Jackson family, but is now in the possession of the Osgood family. Since the 75th anniversary of the Women’s Society Club was formed, Paxton has arranged for a get together in the home and feels obliged to invite Willa and her grandmother. This is where the book starts to get interesting. In preparation for the big event, Paxton has her twin brother come home to renovate the property; ultimately, moving the landmark Peach tree to the Madam home. When moving the tree, the things under the ground start to stir up a big mystery involving both families.
I don’t want to give too much away, because that would be an injustice to the book; but let me say that Sarah Addison Allen didn’t disappoint. Although, there were many character story lines happening in this novel, she is a master at weaving together everyone in the end. To be fair, it wasn’t my favorite Sarah Addison Allen novel, but it’s definitely in the same caliber as “Garden Spells” and the “The Girl who Chased the Moon“. If you’re a fan of what if’s, second chances and a little bit of mystery, then I think this novel is one you should definitely consider!