Review: The Peach Keeper

Posted 11 June, 2012 by Lianne in Books / 0 Comments

The Peach Keeper
By: Sarah Addison Allen

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 and once the finest home in Walls of Water, North Carolina—has stood for years as a monument to misfortune and scandal. Willa has lately learned that an old classmate—socialite Paxton Osgood—has restored the house to its former glory, with plans to turn it into a top-flight inn. But when a skeleton is found buried beneath the property’s lone peach tree, long-kept secrets come to light, accompanied by a spate of strange occurrences throughout the town. Thrust together in an unlikely friendship, united by a full-blooded mystery, Willa and Paxton must confront the passions and betrayals that once bound their families—and uncover the truths that have transcended time to touch the hearts of the living.

You think I would learn this lesson by now: once you start a novel by Sarah Addison Allen, you can’t stop until you finish it! I started reading this book last night after finishing Valente’s The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of Her Own Making (review), managed to contain myself by reading a few chapters but in the end read the rest of the novel this evening *thud* May contain some spoilers ahead!

What I really like about this novel is that the set-up is a bit different from the preceding novels that I’ve read by her: this time around the element of magical realism is not as pronounced from the very start, building up slowly instead as the story progresses. Even after these elements are introduced, they’re somewhat restrained to a few characters and storylines rather than everyone in town having a magical personality trait that defines them as different. This time around the problems that the respective characters have to face has more to do with themselves rather than their issues manifesting themselves in some form of strange occurrence or magical trait. It’s interesting and a different take compared to her previous novels. If anything the magical realism element merely helps move the story along.

While all of her novels feature a variety of life themes, I particularly enjoyed the themes she focused on in this novel: that of genuine, lifelong friendships and of finding oneself. The latter was quite interesting because all four principal characters–Willa, Paxton, Colin and Sebastian–all find themselves trying to figure out who they really are. Willa and Paxton in a way reflect each other in that they both found themselves losing a bit of who they really were and what they really wanted along the way, resigning themselves to conformity and the responsible expectations that they believed other people expected of them. Colin on the other hand returns after struggling to shake off his earlier, childhood restraints, only to find himself facing the possibility of having to reconcile himself with his past. To a certain extent the same is the case with Sebastian, who’s resigned himself to the labels and conceptions that people have of him because that’s where his life led him to. It’s interesting to read how through their interactions with one another, they slowly begin to come to terms with themselves and their pasts and take that step forward. The theme of friendship also weaves in and out, helping their character storylines along but also tying in the greater storyline involving the principal title. Once again I found myself emphasising and connecting with some of the struggles that these characters were faced with, which shows how universal some of these themes really are.

The location of the novel is interesting to note because it paints a different atmosphere for this novel. While it’s still a town located away from the busy, urban centres, the fact that it’s surrounded by mountains and nature gives the story less of a small-town closeness and more of an isolated, frontier feel which is pretty reflective of the characters themselves. At the same time, it was amusing to read this book because there is a character that makes an appearance here who was featured in one of Allen’s earlier books (you’ll have to read it yourself to find out who ^_~).

Overall, I enjoyed this novel. Despite containing less of the magical realist element, it was still an intriguing read with interesting and flawed characters to root for. As always, I highly recommend this novel if you’re into the magical realism genre or if you want a light read.

Rating: ★★★★☆

Visit the author’s official website || Order this book from the Book Depository

Tags: , , ,

Leave a Reply