Chelsea's Reviews > The Peach Keeper

The Peach Keeper by Sarah Addison Allen
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May 02, 2011

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Read from April 27 to May 02, 2011

I picked up The Peach Keeper on Friday because it was the first really, truly beautiful day of the spring and I needed a book that would bring that happy, sunshine-y outside feeling in to what I was reading. I mean, we’ve been having on and off nice days since the end of March, but Friday ended a week of cold (unseasonably so), rain, and gray days with some beautifully golden sunshine and clear blue skies! And nothing says beautiful spring weather like diving in to a book full of southern beauty, magic, and hardcore girly romance/friendship. And The Peach Keeper had all that and more!

This was my first introduction to Sarah Addison Allen, but from what I’ve seen, it doesn’t surprise me at all that shes a favorite out there in the blogosphere! Walls-of-Water, the small southern town she creates, is one of environmental charm, buried secrets, and a little bit of that southern magic. It was a darling book, and totally fit the bill for that sweet little bite of a novel I was looking for!

The book tells the story of Paxton Osgood (btw, how awesome of a name is that?!) and Willa Jackson, decendants of the two most prominant families in the town of Walls-of-Water. Willa’s family once owned the Blue Ridge Madam, an antebellum estate on a hill just outside of town that stands as a monument to the weath that used to reside in the town in the middle of its logging hey-day, before her grandmother fell on hard financial times and a scandalous pregnancy. Paxton’s family has decided to restore the old house, and soon Willa and Paxton are thrown together in a way they never anticipated. Yes, they knew each other in high school. But they ran in different social circles, and were guilty of judging each other unfairly. But with the restoration of the property – and the discovery of a skeleton buried under an old peach tree – the two begin to learn more and more about one another, their town, and the intertwined history of their families. Along the way, they learn things they didn’t ever see coming, and it leads to a number of changes in both their lives. This is a great novel of friendship, love, and choosing to love the place you were born without feeling that you have to be defined by that place.

Before I continue gushing, I should probably mention that there were one or two snafus that popped up to me when I was reading. One was the character development throughout the novel. The characters are all wonderfully built, but after a while I felt that things got a bit repetitive. I also felt that there were a few diversions from the plot line (into the past, into the homes/lives of other neighbors, etc) that, while fun to read, didn’t necessarily do a lot for the plot as a whole. In fact, there were times when I wished the book did a better job of incorporating the past – there’s only one chapter dedicated to the events that transpired between Willa’s grandmother and Paxton’s grandmother in the late 1930s, and I thought it would have been a fantastic aspect of the story thats a bit missing.

These are, honestly, small problems in what was, all in all, a really fantastic read and exactly what I needed to usher in such a beautiful spring. My favorite parts of the novel were probably the small glimpses of magical realism that kept popping up throughout the novel – Tucker Devlin, a travelling salesmen whose bones are the ones discovered on the property, smells constantly of peaches, seems to weild control over local birds, and literally puts a spell over the ladies of Walls-of-Water in the 1930s. Throughout the novel, incidences of his magic pop up again and again, ususally in a way that even the people facing the magic don’t understand.

I was also enamored with the descriptions of the smalll southern town, both the town and houses as well as the national part that surrounds Walls-of-Water. There is something so extraordinarily charming about mid-atlantic south, and I’m pretty sure a large part of that has to do with the fact that my brother grew up there, lived there his entire life (there being South Carolina), and every time I visit him I want to leave less and less!

All in all, I’d say there really couldn’t be a better book for curling up with on a sun-baked couch, with a cup of coffee or perhaps that first sweet tea of the season.

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