Wednesday, May 11, 2011

The Peach Keeper by Sarah Addison Allen

Title: The Peach Keeper
Author: Sarah Addison Allen

Genre: Fiction (Contemporary / Southern)
Publisher/Publication Date: Bantam (3/22/2011)
Source: TLC Book Tours

Rating: Liked a great deal!
Did I finish?: Yes, in a day!
One-sentence summary: Two women from a small town in North Carolina discover that they share more secrets, connections, and mysteries than simply their high school past.

Do I like the cover?: Yes --it's super pretty and quite romantic.

I'm reminded of...: Maeve Binchy, Diana Abu-Jaber, Sena Jeter Naslund

First line: The day Paxton Osgood took the box of heavy-stock, foil-lined envelopes to the post office, the ones she'd had a professional calligrapher address, it began to rain so hard the air turned as white as bleached cotton.

Did... I have an impossible time limiting myself to one excerpt for my Teaser Tuesday clip?: YES.  The writing is just such fun.  Easy to read, but with some lovely imagery and a great deal of good humor.  It was exactly what I needed during this insane work week.

Did... I have one moment in which I was really offended?: YES. More on that in my review.

Did... I finish this book in less than twenty-four hours: YES. I kept picking it up at any spare moment -- it's perfect to read in five-minute increments because it's engrossing but not so elaborate you need long stretches to keep up. Although I did also read it in long stretches because I didn't want to stop!

Why did I get this book?: Because the moment TLC Book Tours announced it, people went nuts, like Elvis was handing out tickets to his otherworldly tour.  It was crazy, and I wanted to be there.

Review: This was my first Sarah Addison Allen book but I instantly understood why she has such a devoted following.  The writing is comfortable and warm and easy (see my Teaser Tuesday for a taste) but I don't know if the style is magical realism.  There are some magical elements but it's not hokey or odd or incredulity-straining; it just is.  It feels right.

I actually knew very little about the plot and wasn't sure what to expect.  What was so refreshing was the story's emphasis on female friendship.  I don't know, maybe it's a Southern fiction thing, but I was actually shocked that the two females -- seemingly opposites (set up, I was sure, to be rivals) -- not only ended up becoming friendly, but weren't mean, competitive, vindictive, cruel, cold, food-obsessed, weight-obsessed or fighting over the same romantic partner.  They had problems that real people have: worries about one's choices in the past, decisions in the future, family, friends, jobs.  I immediately liked the both of them and it made the book so much more enjoyable because I wanted -- yearned! -- for everything to work out in the end.

This was a far more romantic book than I expected but I admit, I was all for the romantic relationships that ensued. 

And now, for my single quibble.  You'll see from my status updates that I was digging this book hardcore until this speed bump hit -- and it really did very nearly break my heart.  I suppose this bit is going to be spoiler-y, so if you want to be wholly surprised then skip over the rest of this paragraph.  Normally I hate -- loathe -- when authors make otherwise gay men straight for the right woman.  It might be plausible, but it's a little too close to intimating that hard work and determination is what homosexuals need to be 'normal'. One of the characters was sexually confused -- I think that's what Allen was trying to say -- but whatever it was left me confused, and not in a good way.  I totally wanted this couple to be together, but I gotta confess, when it happened, I felt a bit dirty and kind of horrified.

I was so rattled by this speed bump that I stopped working on this review to give myself some time to chew over how I felt; now, about a week later, I feel the same: great affection for this book with a twinge of slight disappointment.  Up until that moment, and immediately after, the book was luminous, delightful, engrossing, and fun.  I suspect many readers won't be as upset as I was -- I'm sure Allen didn't mean anything judgmental or negative -- and in the end, I can say I loved her writing enough that I'm going to find her previous books to read and I'll read anything else she does write.

*** *** ***

GIVEAWAY!  I'm thrilled to offer a copy of The Peach Keeper to one lucky reader!  Just comment with an email to be entered.  Ends 5/27, open to US/CA only.

37 comments:

  1. Thank you for the excellent review, there seems to be a lot more to the book than I thought. I have been looking forward to this book for a while now. Thank you for the giveaway, I would love to win a copy :)

    jaidahsmommy(at)comcast(dot)net

    ReplyDelete
  2. Sounds like a great book, would love to win!

    pocokat AT gmail DOt com

    ReplyDelete
  3. Sounds like we were pretty much in the same boat on this one. I'd never read her work before, but will be doing so. I felt the same way about that particular relationship. As soon as I came upon it I knew exactly what "betrayal" you referenced during out chat!

    ReplyDelete
  4. Yay! I love Maeve Binchy so I'm even more excited about this!

    raoreviews(at)gmail(dot)com

    ReplyDelete
  5. ooo, pretty pretty cover. love your reviews. and love maeve binchy works too. uh-oh, that speed bump sounds unsettling. but overall this one still interests me.
    vvb32 at yahoo.com

    ReplyDelete
  6. Awesome! Sounds great :)

    quixoticdreamer(at)hotmail(dot)com

    ReplyDelete
  7. I also would be a little perplexed by the turn of events that you mention, but perhaps Allen had some way of making it palatable? I will have to gauge my reaction to it when I read it for myself. Great review, by the way. I would also love to be included in your giveaway.

    zibilee(at)figearo(dot)net

    ReplyDelete
  8. @Zibilee - It was certainly palatable -- the problem was, it was a very convincing red herring in some ways, and so it was weird (for me) the way she explained things away. As I said, I don't think anything malicious or judgmental was intended -- it just felt like a v wrong note in an otherwise marvelous song!

    ReplyDelete
  9. This is on my wishlist! I would love to win this! Thanks!

    Margaret
    singitm@hotmail.com

    ReplyDelete
  10. Thank you for including me. =)
    tiredwkids at live dot com

    ReplyDelete
  11. I really like the way you set up your reviews. And I'm LOL'ing over the Elvis comparison!! That one wrong note makes me super curious.. I have the book but haven't gotten to it yet. If you're going to read more SAA, I'd like to suggest Garden Spells. It's beautifully written. Thanks so much for being on the tour!

    ReplyDelete
  12. I haven't tried her work yet but it sounds like I'm in for a treat! A lot of my friends love her work.

    ReplyDelete
  13. I usually do not jump over spoilers but had to here. I would love to read a book by her one day, I hear she is a lovely writer :D

    ReplyDelete
  14. @Blodeuedd: She really is quite delicious -- that one quibble aside, I adored her book. Really, my quibble bothered me so much *because* I had been lovin' on her so hard! I do hope you pick this book up -- it was quite sweet!

    ReplyDelete
  15. I pretty much loved this book too. The whole gay character didn't both me so much because I felt like the audience would automatically assume he was gay.. and maybe that's what the author was trying to challenge?

    ReplyDelete
  16. would love to read this magical novel...thanks for the chance :)

    karenk
    kmkuka at yahoo dot com

    ReplyDelete
  17. Thanks for the giveaway! I live in NC myself and I'm always interested in books with Southern settings.

    susanna dot pyatt at student dot rcsnc dot org

    ReplyDelete
  18. Like you, I'm new to the work of Sarah Addison Allen as well. This book has been on my "to-read" list as well as my "wishlist" for a while now. The premise of this book seems really interesting, and I especially like books that explore human bonds/relationships and yet have an element of mystery to them. This book seems to offer both! :)

    Thank you for this amazingly generous giveaway opportunity! :)

    ~Hira~
    GFC Follower: ~Enamored Soul~
    Email: Enamoredsoul(at)gmail(dot)com
    Twitter: @inluvwithbookz

    ReplyDelete
  19. I am glad to have found your blog. Its always interesting to know what other people think of the books I read.Thankyou for this wonderful giveaway . This book is on my list to read and I like your review.
    thanks
    anmol2ca(at)yahoo(dot)ca

    ReplyDelete
  20. Great review. I'd love a chance to win this novel as I've never read anything by this author before.

    Thanks!

    confessions(dot)avidreader(at)gmail(dot)com

    ReplyDelete
  21. Your review was really thoughtful :)
    I have read Garden Spells, which i liked, but none of her other books. I'm glad to see you say that the plot development didn't ruin the book for you.

    ReplyDelete
  22. I think I entered this before blogger went down, but my comment no longer appears :-(

    I'd love to enter the contest as I've never read anything by this author.

    confessions(dot)avidreader(at)gmail(dot)com

    Thanks!

    ReplyDelete
  23. I read Garden Spells, which I liked, but I have not read any of her other books. It's a shame that this had the glitch in the plot, but at least it didn't totally detract from your enjoyment of the book.
    I really enjoyed your review of this one :)

    ReplyDelete
  24. My first comment was deleted, so I'm posting it again. :) I'm always interested in Southern fiction, living in NC myself, so thanks for the giveaway!

    susanna dot pyatt at student dot rcsnc dot org

    ReplyDelete
  25. I didn't know who she was until recently. The first book I read was The Sugar Queen which I enjoyed quite a bit even though it's not my usual genre (review: http://mentalfoodie.blogspot.com/2011/05/book-review-sugar-queen-by-sarah.html)! Then I read The Girl Who Chased The Moon and didn't like it as much, just okay for me (hadn't done review as of now). Still have Garden Spells to read yet, and would love to read this one!

    cytljjb @ gmail com

    ReplyDelete
  26. thanks for the chance to read this magical book...what a great cover :)

    karenk
    kmkuka at yahoo dot com

    ReplyDelete
  27. I've been curious about this book. I can see how you would be disappointed with that aspect of the story, but the rest of it sounds wonderful. I'd love to be entered in the giveaway.

    diaryofaneccentric at hotmail dot com

    ReplyDelete
  28. I think my comment was one of the opnes that didn't appear so here i am again. Thanks for the giveaway! I really want to read this one!

    Margaret
    singitm@hotmail.com

    ReplyDelete
  29. Love, love, love SAA books. I would love to enter.

    ReplyDelete
  30. @Jacquelyn - please leave an email address as I can't access your profile!

    ReplyDelete
  31. am I too late? If not: jeskimo.kimono@gmail.com
    And your blog is AMAZING. I feel like hiding my poor little shabby one. Very well done!

    ReplyDelete
  32. I loved this story too...I would love a copy of the "real" book as I read an e-book copy from my library!!

    ReplyDelete
  33. Just found your blog via a friend on GoodReads--very cool! Thanks for hosting a giveaway! I loved Allen's Garden Spells and would be excited to win a copy of The Peach Keeper. Keeping my fingers crossed. . .

    ReplyDelete
  34. I adore Sarah Addison Allen and am so excited about this tour! I liked what you said about her writing style being warm and cozy and how it's magical realism but it doesn't feel that way because it just feels right. That's like the perfect description of both books I've read by her so far. I'd love to win this copy (actually I'd be more than estatic!).

    erikadlugoATyahooDOTcom

    ReplyDelete
  35. I love Southern fiction and this one has been on my wish list!

    lag110 at mchsi dot com

    ReplyDelete
  36. Excellent review! I haven't read a bad one yet for this book. Please enter me for a chance to win a copy of The Peach Keeper.


    riverboat38(at)hotmail(dot)com

    ReplyDelete
  37. Oooh I have been itching to read this one!!

    Sarah Reads Too Much
    sarahesullivan at gmail dot com

    ReplyDelete