Review: The Peach Keeper by Sarah Addison Allen

May 4, 2011 Bantam, Mystery/Suspense, Review, Women's Fiction 11

  • Hardcover: 288 pages
  • Publisher: Bantam; First Edition edition (March 22, 2011)
  • ISBN-10: 0553807226
  • Source: Publisher

  • Willa Jackson returns to the small southern town of Walls of Water, North Carolina eight years ago when her father passed away.  Growing up, she was sort of a wild child, a prankster, known by her fellow classmates as the Walls of Water High School joker.  Now as an adult, Willa promises to settle down in the town she once loved. She is now survived by her grandmother Georgie, who lives in a nursing home. She has a fairly successful life, owning her own organic sporting goods store. 

    As a child, she would look upon the Blue Ridge Madam mansion, the place her family called home generations ago until the 1930s when they became impoverished. She continues to look up on the old mansion, now under renovation, with a bit of reverence.  She doesn’t know that much about the life her grandmother once had while living there.

    Paxton Osgood is woman constantly on the go, obsessed with details.  She’s determined to return the Blue Ridge Madam to it’s original glory.  The Madam is the venue of a gala and Paxton is desperate to impress the Women’s Society Club. Paxton, in her thirties, still lives at home with her parents.  Despite attempting to move out, she can’t seem to get out from under the wings of her mother.  The closest she can get to independence is moving out into the pool house.

    Sebastian Rogers is Paxton’s closest (and seemingly only real) friend. They make quite the interest “couple”-in high school Sebastian wore a purple trenchcoat and eyeliner.  Paxton loves Sebastian and wants more, but due a scene she witnessed when they were both younger, realizes that is impossible. Bottom line, Paxton is a woman who has everything, yet has nothing.

    Her twin brother, Colin, was able to escape the tight constraints of their parents.  Now a landscape architect, he’s agreed to come home for only a month to help landscape the renovated mansion.

    While moving an ancient tree to the grounds of the Blue Ridge Madam, the crew uncovers items that forever changes the view of the majestic mansion.  Secrets long buried are unvelied, and the unexpected duo of Paxton and Willa (who as young girls despised one another) must unveil the mystery behind what happened in Walls of Water, so many years ago.

    I’ve been a fan of Allen’s writing for some time now.  As with her past novels, Allen succeed at painting a stunningly detailed vision of southern life. She never fails to provide a novel rich in details and well-constructed characters.  The setting of The Peach Keeper is a beautiful one, rich in southern flaire.  Unfortunately, also rich in snobby southern aristocrats.  Young women forced to work hard to impress the other members of society is fairly typical for the South.  So are deep dark secrets.  Families would stop at nothing to protect the integrity of the family name…including murder.

    I’ve been so pleased to have discovered quite a few books lately with mysterious storylines.  The Peach Keeper is yet another one that I have discovered and become quite take with. Allen’s writing is full of rich detail. Following is just an example, a scene describing the move of a giant oak tree to the grounds of the Blue Ridge Madam:

    Watching the actual planting was breathtaking, like watching a primitive battle between man and beast.  The tree seemed like some great animal, fighting against the hunters trying to capture it.  As the machinery lowered the gigantic root ball covered in burlap and wire, the men grabbed the roaps tethered to the limbs.  They yelled, and the tree groaned and actually seemed to writhe against its restraints. the men holding on to the ropes moved in sync, running one way, then the next.  They knew this animal; they knew its habits.  they knew how to tame it.

    This is just a brief sampling of the breathtakingly gorgeous writing within this novel.  Reading each page is like reading a piece of music, the words flowing across the pages like notes of music.

    If you love southern fiction with strong characters with a touch of mystery (and ghosts!) this is the perfect read for you. A story of love, family, a tinge of romance, and the true meaning of friendship, it’s a book that you can’t afford to miss. Highly recommended.

    Thank you to TLC Book Tours for providing me the opportunity to participate in this tour. Please be sure to check out the remaining stops in this tour:

    Thursday, May 5th:  Alison’s Book Marks

    Friday, May 6th:  Bookfoolery and Babble

    Monday, May 9th:  A Library of My Own

    Tuesday, May 10th:  Teresa’s Reading Corner

    Wednesday, May 11th:  Unabridged Chick

    Monday, May 16th:  A Bookshelf Monstrosity

    Wednesday, May 18th:  Two Kids and Tired

    Friday, May 20th:  In the Next Room

    11 Responses to “Review: The Peach Keeper by Sarah Addison Allen”

    1. Kay

      I love the part where you say, “Reading each page is like reading a piece of music…”. Who wouldn’t want to read a book that made someone feel that way? Thanks for sharing!

    2. Julie
      Twitter: JulieJustReads

      She has to be one of my favorite authors. She’s so magical and I get completely absorbed in her novels.

    3. Jason
      Twitter: BrainCandyBR

      This book came to my attention last week at the Newburyport Lit. Festival and I’ve had it on my TBR ever since.

      You’re review just reinforces that I need to move it up further to the top!

    4. Amused
      Twitter: amusedbybooks

      This is one of those authors I keep meaning to try – I need to just do it! And since as you say, if you love Southern fiction, than you need to give this one a try, then I definitely should!

    5. Amy
      Twitter: JustBookReading

      I loved this one too. I stumbled upon her books earlier this year and have already read three.

    6. Pam (@iwriteinbooks)

      Oh, I have heard seriously good stuff about this. It’s on my summer list for sure. I’m glad the writing is amazing, too, not just the story. Fun!

    7. kay

      Beautiful writing, indeed! I don’t read enough southern fiction, and the author has been recommended many times. I need to read her!