Tuesday, May 17, 2011

The Peach Keeper by Sarah Addison Allen

The Peach Keeper by Sarah Addison Allen

Completion Date: April 21, 2011
Reason for Reading: Fun!
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.
This is a buddy read with Marg from The Adventures of an Intrepid Reader. I have the second part, so you have to read her post first to understand what is going on. Enjoy!
Marg: One of the key parts of this novel is that of the discovery of the body. Whilst I am not sure that I would go so far as to say that this book has gone gothic or anything like that, it certainly felt a bit darker than some of her other books.

Kelly: Yes, things happened in the previous books, but they were more light-hearted. This book was a bit dark with the body and learning the truth behind what happened. The relationships that develop between characters in her books was still there, but this was a new element that wasn’t there previously. That being said, there is always something slightly dark in her books. It seems like she is trying to change it up a bit so she can explore other avenues with each book.

Speaking of character development, did you feel that she did a good job developing the characters? Did you find the relationships that were formed during the course of the book believable?

Marg: Are you mainly talking about Paxton and Willa? For the most part yes, although I did find it interesting to compare the almost opposite development of their friendship compared to the one that their respective grandmothers ending up having. I am not sure that I completely got why that relationship worked out the way it did.

I did love the way that the Paxton ending up dealing with so many of their peers, particularly her speech at the reopening of the house.

Kelly: I appreciated the development of the friendships. When you are young, friends are everything, but when you get older things get busy and you tend to lose track of what used to be important. Then, if you stay friends with people, you are more ‘social’ friends. You chat, but you don’t necessarily have the conversations that you used to have because you are busy with marriages, kids, work, etc. I think that this book really touches on something that many women experience. And, it is not something that I necessarily read a lot about in books, but then maybe I am not reading the right type of books. The romance aspect of the book was a bit typical, but the friendship aspect is important and, I think, it is something that a lot of people can relate to.

Did you find you could relate to it on some level?

Marg: Not really. Part of the reason for this is that I have moved around a bit and so I haven’t always had that feeling of belonging to a single place like Paxton and Willa do. I know what you are saying about the changing nature of friendships, but the reality is for me that bond was broken with a lot of my friends when I moved overseas for five years. When I came back everyone, including me, had moved onto different places in our lives. When I go back to Adelaide, they are always glad to see me, until the next time.

Oh dear. That sounds very melancholy without necessarily meaning too.

Kelly: Well, I suppose I can relate in a way. I moved in high school and my friendships sort of drifted after that. And, I cannot relate to Paxton and Willa being so connected to one place either. But, overall, I could relate to the experience. Is there anything else that you wanted to discuss?

Marg: I really just wanted to finish by saying I wish Sarah Addison Allen all the best in her treatment (she is currently undergoing cancer treatment). From a purely selfish view it would be a terrible loss if this was the last of her books. I am sure it won’t be, but still.

Kelly: I didn’t know that! I wish her well!


  1. Anonymous5:09 PM

    reading the publisher's comments/synopsis, A Rose for Emily, the short story by William Faulkner came to mind. Was a bit excited that there may be a touch of the Southern Gothic in this novel.

    I've not read anything by Sarah Addison Allen, will have to look her up. should I start here, or do recommend another book as the best intro to Allen's work?

    ~L (omphaloskepsis)

  2. I really enjoyed this one. Her first book is still my favorite though!!

  3. I just finished this one. I read it in bits and pieces and think I would have liked it better had I read it in one sitting.
    I thought the mystery could have been played out better, it was too light for me. Her reads are fun but I think she could really take it up a couple of notches and write something more gothic.


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