Wednesday, June 6, 2012

The Peach Keeper

Sarah Addison Allen is by far one of my favorite authors. Her books are always a comfort; something warm and magical that can transport me from real life with all of its stressors to Somewhere Else. Maybe it's because often many of Sarah Addison Allen's characters want to be Somewhere Else as well. Maybe I find myself with those same dreams and I can relate all the better to the fictional characters I'm reading about.

For those who have read and loved Allen's past books they will love this one as well. All of her books have been happy and light with a little bit of necessary darkness. So for that I feel this review will be much like the others I have written about her previous books. Thus far, with my experience of this author, I feel that if you read any of her previous books and disliked them, you shouldn’t even attempt her other novels because they are all so similar. 

To be totally honest, the book is often predictable. You know what's going to happen nearly right away and the book isn't too filled with surprises. It's simple, it's pretty and it has a happy ending. You aren't going to need to concentrate too hard on its written pages and I flew through the book. But that's the thing, it's light and quick and not giving you a headache. It's happy and magical and adventurous in a small town type of way, where you can find excitement just within your own home and where you most certainly least expect it.

It even has a guest appearance by some beloved characters from her first book, Garden Spells and much of the same magical elements that have been found in all of her past books. The leading male characters in this book were possibly some of my favorite that Allen has ever written. But, as always, there is a very strong host of female characters. I think that’s what I like about the book: it’s so filled with women. The strength, friendship, care, and courage of women is easily displayed. Some women fit into social roles, others are mean and cruel, but all seem to show signs of character growth through out Allen’s novels. The Peach Keeper is no different.

Predictability aside, it’s just an enjoyable book. There is obvious romantic tension for the female cast with their possible suitors which I enjoyed (and cheered on) and there is the love between friends that is displayed in a lovely light. The idea that women stick together, through thick or thin, even though they may be scared of what they would face. But sometimes it seems women may have to make mistakes and realize that they’re being poor friends to see the light and strive for that type of dependable friendship.

Of course, Allen depicts southern hospitality, or what I assume it is to be. I’m a Yankee and have very little experience with The South so forgive me if I am missing something here. To me, the book depicts the southern living that I’ve always imagined. Warm nights, flowers blooming, people appreciating food and the outdoors while there are groups like women’s societies that prefer putting together galas under tents and decorated to perfection. I think it’s all rather fascinating. Allen also has a tendency to use nature to her advantage. Trees, animals, and specifically flowers always play such a major role in her books and I love that about her. Every aspect of these character’s lives has an influence over them and I feel that is a great use of plot devices and language. Plus, I’m all about pretty flowers and trees so if you throw that element into a book you pretty much have found yourself a fan in me.

When I discovered that Sarah Addison Allen had been diagnosed with breast cancer and began her treatments right around the time that The Peach Keeper came out, I felt like a horrible fan. She was going through a huge event in her life and I didn’t even know about it! But I’m happy to say that she has conquered the cancer and seems to be in good health and spirits – even writing another book! I can promise you this, whether or not her next book is much the same as all of her others, I don’t care, I will still be reading it and this time I won’t wait so long to purchase it!

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