Sarah Addison Allen is an author I’ve been intending to read for what seems like an age. I even own one of her books, Garden Spells; though sadly have never got around to it. After reading The Peach Keeper all I can say is ...why the hell did I leave it so long?
The Peach Keeper tells the story of two generations. It’s set in modern times and follows Willa and Paxton, but in-between we also get the story of their grandmothers, Georgie and Agatha. In the tiny town of Walls of Water the girls are from two of the most prominent families around. Only Willa’s family suffered a fall from grace back when her grandmother was a young girl. Willa just wants to forget her family's past and get on with her life, but when Paxton buys the derelict old family mansion once belonging to her grandmother’s parents, secrets are about to be revealed. Ones that have remained buried a long, long time.
You know when you get a book you just sink right into? Well The Peach Keeper was exactly that for me. I finally understand why Addison Allen is so very loved. Her writing is warm, slightly mystical and intoxicating…I was completely addicted and read the entire book in one day.
I LOVED the setting of the small town of Walls of Water. It’s slightly odd and eccentric with a personality of it’s own. Willa and Paxton couldn’t be more different, despite the original connection between their families. Willa is easy going, hard working and just wants to put her ancestors once grand past behind her while Paxton is ambitious, aloof and a natural leader. Neither have much to do with the other until Paxton buys the mansion, The Blue Ridge Madam. Through a forced collaboration we get to know the women, their insecurities and their dreams and witness a beautiful friendship blossom.
I’m always a sucker for stories about a big, old house full of family secrets, and The Blue Ridge Madam certainly didn’t disappoint (how awesome is that name? I adore the imaginative and wistful names in this novel!) There are plenty of secrets waiting to be revealed in the newly refurbished mansion. The Peach Keeper also has another favourite story style of mine, flashbacks to the past (yay!) and I thought the mystery of Willa and Paxton’s grandmothers was very well told and kept me glued.
Sarah Addison Allen’s writing is naturally romantic just in its style, but The Peach Keeper does have some actual ‘romance’ for the two main characters in the form of Sebastian and Colin. This was probably the most predictable part of the story, I could see a mile off where things were headed but it didn’t necessarily weaken the novel. The journey to the end more than made up for my guesswork and through all four characters we see a development of both individuals and friendship, which was a joy to read.
Sarah Addison Allen is renowned for adding a smidge of magic into her novels, and The Peach Keeper is no different. It is ever so subtle though, barely a wisp and certainly shouldn’t put off those who like stories firmly on the realistic side of the fence. I think I was probably expecting something a little more magical though, and this was perhaps my one tiny disappointment. A very minor disappointment however, because I thoroughly enjoyed The Peach Keeper. It was so beautiful and comforting, I lapped up every page. I certainly don’t plan on leaving it too long before reading more from this author!