Review: The Peach Keeper, by Sarah Addison Allen

I will start by saying that I LOVE Sarah Addison Allen's books. I have bought and read and cherished her three previous novels, and I always await the next one with trepidation. Her brand of magical realism and the ability to describe and create perfect settings and atmosphere, as well as giving a sense of hope and joy, even in the darlest scenes of her novels, make her books some of my favourite comfort reading besides my beloved children novels. So it's with little guilt that I broke my book buying ban and went to the store to buy this one. In hardcover.

As for all of her previous books, The Peach Keeper, follows the lives of two women in a small town somewhere in the south of the United States. In this case it follows Willa Jackson and Paxton Osgood in the town of Walls of Water in North Carolina. Willa used to be a joker and a wild young girl, but has now settled in a quieter life, owning an organic sporting goods store, and going to the nursing home to see her grandmother once a week. Paxton is a member of the Osgood clan, the richest family in Walls of Water. She is the president of the Women's Society Club, and organizing its 75th anniversary. She is detail-oriented, extremely well-organized and always in control, and her only true friend is the local dentist, Sebastian. But just as Paxton's brother, Colin, comes back to town to help her, things also start to change. A strange wind makes people reveal their most secret thoughts. Things move and bells ring without anyone touching them. A body is found under the peach tree next the the newly renovated Madam, a house where Willa's grandmother used to live. There is a secret that has been burind for 75 years, that refuses to lay dormant anymore, and Willa and Paxton are determined to figure it out.

The Peach Keeper didn't have as many magical elements, or quirky, singular characters as Sarah Addison Allen's previsou novels, but nevertheless, I loved the story anyway. I loved both Willa and Paxton and their friends/love interests Colin and Sebastian. But my favourtite part of all her novels is still her ability to create such settinsgs and atmosphere that make me want to eat pie, bask in the sun and have candle-lit dinners with friends while crickets sing in the distance. It's the ultimate comfort. Some people might characterize her novels as chick-lit, a term I personnally dislike very much, but, for me, they are not quite so. Sure there are love stories, sure most main characters find love, but her novels, and The Peach Keeper is no exeption, are first and foremost about friendship between women. And it's what I loved the most about this novel. I was more fascinated and interested by the relationship between Willa and Paxton than their relationship with Sebastian and Colin. I also admire Ms. Allen's talent at making secondary and side characters interesting. They jump at you from the page, even though they might have very little time within the story. On the downside, Ms. Allen's books and vision of Southern America, is mostly white and heteronormative. Nothing new, I know. But I hope that for her next novel(s), she introduces non-white protagonists, and non-hetero relationships for her protagonists. Because, somehow, everything else feels so real.

The Peah Keeper is a nice quick comforting read, great for light Summer reading. I also recommend Sarah Addison Allen's previous novels (obviously): Garden Spells, The Sugar Queen and The Girl Who Chased the Moon.


  1. Yay, I was looking forward to this review. This sounds like a great book, and I'm happy to hear that, as you say, it brings joy to read it. I've heard that most of her books have a focus on Southern living (idealized or not), so that may have something to do with the desire for more varied characters.

    Maybe it's because I grew up in the north, and now live in the south, and I can't help but create stories not so, well, compass-oriented. But I find that impressive, that Allen can create that type of atmosphere.

    Great review!

  2. @CloudyKim
    Her books focus on Southern living, yes, probably a bit adealized, but what would I know, I'm from the Great White North. And I unserstand that usually Southern idealization is full of white, hetero people, like say, country music is (usually), but I last time I checked there were still people of color, and homosexuals living there as well. Oh well, I just hope she gets there eventually.

    I am really impressed with her ability to create these "Southern" atmosphere. They are really comforting and only remind me of bright summer days :)

  3. THE PEACH KEEPER is a sweet story about friendship, loyalty, trust and deep secrets, past and present lives and about "coming home". Food for the soul, Allen's writing soothes and comforts with a touch of believable magic and the supernatural. There is great insight, humor, triumph overcoming insecurities, all to feed the human soul. The wonderful, multi-faceted characters learn to lead with their hearts instead of their minds, and to accept each day as it presents itself.

  4. I've heard excellent things about this book and the author. I am determined to read one of her books this year and see what I've been missing.

    Marlene Detierro (Eureka Joe's)