Review: The Peach Keeper, by Sarah Addison Allen
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.