Tuesday, May 17, 2011

The Peach Keeper by Sarah Addison Allen

The New York Times bestselling author of The Girl Who Chased the Moon welcomes you to her newest locale: Walls of Water, North Carolina, where the secrets are thicker than the fog from the town’s famous waterfalls, and the stuff of superstition is just as real as you want it to be.

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.

Resonant with insight into the deep and lasting power of friendship, love, and tradition, The Peach Keeper is a portrait of the unshakable bonds that—in good times and bad, from one generation to the next—endure forever.

Like we did for The Girl Who Chased the Moon, Kelly from The Written World and I are reviewing The Peach Keeper together. Kelly's thoughts are in black and mine in green. Enjoy!


This is Sarah Addison Allen’s fourth novel, and I believe you have read all four of them like me. What did you think of this book in comparison? Do you think she has maintained the same aspects of her book that her fans have come to love, or did you find this one different from her previous works?

I have read all four of them. One of the hardest things about reading Sarah Addison Allen is having to wait for each new book!

I liked this book, but I don’t think I liked it as much as I liked the earlier books. The main reason for this was that I felt that it was missing the magical element for a significant part of the book. It appeared eventually, but there was no cantankerous apple tree, or food that influenced the emotions or books that magically appeared.
Having said that, she still has a lightness of touch when it comes to writing friendships, relationships and settings so while it was different, it was also a book that her established fans will like.

How did you find this book compared to her earlier ones?

Well, I was a bit unimpressed in the beginning. I read Allen for the magical realism and I was starting to wonder if there was ever going to be any. Once things started going, though, I was a bit more impressed. I think I enjoyed the earlier books better, but this one was still really good. It just didn’t take off for me like her other books. The magic realism is very understated, which I suppose it is in her other books too, but it is still there more than it was with this one.

What was your favourite part of the book?


My favourite was definitely the relationship between Paxton and Sebastian. I really felt the confusion as Paxton realised how strong her feelings were and worried about his non reciprocation, and loved the resolution.


Other than that, the other highlight for me was seeing Claire from Garden Spells again. Just reading that small section had me wanting to reread that book!

What was your favourite part?

Okay, so I missed the Garden Spells reference. I saw a couple people mention it and in retrospect it was obvious, but I think I had other things on my mind when I read this book. Like, maybe actually reading something... I want to reread all of her books, but I read the first two from the library and am keeping my eyes peeled to find them at the second hand store. I own her two newer ones, so I would like to complete the set.

My favourite part of the book was anything to do with the house. Since I was really little, I have always been infatuated with older homes, so I loved reading about the restoration of this one. I could picture it in my mind and now I want to see it for real. This adds into learning the history of the home as we learn the history of the family. That’s something that has always interested me. I also really liked the fact that *blanking on name* thought that you could tell a lot about a person by the coffee that they drank. I am not sure why, but it really interested me. I am not sure if it is a proven science or anything, but Allen made it seem believable. (What was her name? I can’t find my copy of the book. Might have accidentally brought it back to ‘storage’. I know it will come to me, but I am still waking up.)

The name was Rachel. I liked that part too, and it actually inspired a Weekend Cooking post by me a couple of weeks ago.

Head over to Kelly's blog to read the second half of the review.

This book was read for the Once Upon a Time V challenge.


  1. I can't wait to get my hands on this book! It's waiting for me on the hold shelf at the library. :D

  2. I own Garden Spells but haven't gotten around to it yet. So many bloggers love her, so I'm excited to read it. Which SAA is your favorite?

  3. I look forward to another book by her. There are disadvantages to being caught up with an author!

  4. Kailana, I know, that's definitely the hardest thing about reading her!

    Holly, they are all great, so it doesn't really matter which one you read, but I would start with Garden Spells.

    Leya, I hope you enjoy it.

  5. I haven't read any books by Allen yet, but I do have one on my shelf waiting for me. I think that the magical aspects of these books sound extremely intriguing, and I would love to get the chance to read this one at some point. Loved this review, and the different style that you used.

  6. I just read this book as well (my review is up now) and I did miss having more magical realism! Maybe next book?

  7. Meg I also just read the book I find it amazing. I will be reading your review there meg and add a comment as well. You can also send out ideas of new books to read for book lovers such I.

  8. This sounds interesting i will have to keep my eyes out for it. Great review, I like the joint review format!

  9. I enjoyed this one very much but loved Garden Spells more. I think the apple tree did it for me. :-) I also loved the reference to Claire and hope she appears in something else soon. I've got one of Allen's books left to read and I'm looking forward to it.

    Great review.

  10. I've got this one in my pile at home, and can't wait to read it. I've loved all of her books, and can't wait for more!