- Title: The Peach Keeper
- Author: Sarah Addison Allen
- Genre: Literary Fiction
- Format: Trade Paperback
- Source: Own copy
- Reviewed by: Valerie
- Rating: 3.5 out of 5
Description: The New York Times bestselling author of The Girl Who Chased the Moon welcomes you to her newest locale: Walls of Water, North Carolina, where the secrets are thicker than the fog from the town’s famous waterfalls, and the stuff of superstition is just as real as you want it to be.
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 during Walls of Water’s heyday, and once the town’s grandest home—has stood for years as a lonely monument to misfortune and scandal. And Willa herself has long strived to build a life beyond the brooding Jackson family shadow. No easy task in a town shaped by years of tradition and the well-marked boundaries of the haves and have-nots.
But Willa has lately learned that an old classmate—socialite do-gooder Paxton Osgood—of the very prominent Osgood family, has restored the Blue Ridge Madam to her former glory, with plans to open a top-flight inn. Maybe, at last, the troubled past can be laid to rest while something new and wonderful rises from its ashes. But what rises instead is a skeleton, found buried beneath the property’s lone peach tree, and certain to drag up dire consequences along with it.
For the bones—those of charismatic traveling salesman Tucker Devlin, who worked his dark charms on Walls of Water seventy-five years ago—are not all that lay hidden out of sight and mind. Long-kept secrets surrounding the troubling remains have also come to light, seemingly heralded by a spate of sudden strange occurrences throughout the town.
Now, thrust together in an unlikely friendship, united by a full-blooded mystery, Willa and Paxton must confront the dangerous passions and tragic betrayals that once bound their families—and uncover truths of the long-dead that have transcended time and defied the grave to touch the hearts and souls of the living.
Resonant with insight into the deep and lasting power of friendship, love, and tradition, The Peach Keeper is a portrait of the unshakable bonds that—in good times and bad, from one generation to the next—endure forever.
Review: The Peach Keeper is one of those book club books that I felt compelled to read. In fact, we read it as a book club selection for the local book club that I host. It was a light and quick read, definitely falling into the genre of chick lit with a hint of mystery. I had hoped the plot to be focused more on the side of the mystery, but it was focused much more firmly on relationships and romances. The book also had a bit of a mystical element that was unexpected, and that I’m not quite sure fit.
The primary theme of the book was friendship. The story centered on two women, from different sides of the metaphorical track, Willa and Paxton, whose grandmothers had been best friends once upon a time. The girls are pulled together in coordinating an open house for a club founded by the grandmothers. As Willa and Paxton bond with one another, and certain men in the lives, they uncover deep secrets at the root of their grandmothers’ friendship.
In addition to finding friendship in unexpected places and the strength of friendship through the year, the book is also a tale of self-discovery. Willa spent her youth making a statement of rebellion and in the present day is trying to contain her impulsive side to blend in. On the other hand, Paxton has spent her whole life trying to be the perfect southern belle, and longs to just be herself. As their friendship develops, both women realize that they both are victims of their own insecurities.
While not overly deep, the book does make some relevant, if light-hearted social commentary. One of the concepts that struck me the most is that no matter from which strata of society one comes, everyone struggles to balance preconceived notions of who they should be with who they want to be. There was also that suggestion that secrets breed more secrets, and once you pull the string on one, they all start to unravel.
There was one thing that I really did not like about this book. At the end, there is a flash-back chapter to tie up the loose end of what really happened when the grandmothers were young friends. This chapter felt out of place, as if the author did not know how to include this information, so it was tacked on clumsily at the end. I felt that there had to be a better to way to either include this information, or to leave it ambiguous.
The cover of the book was attractive and eye catching. The delicate font and the peach blossoms capture the whimsical tone of the story. The girl facing away touching her hair hints at that she may have a secret, as befitting the story.
This was an enjoyable book, if not overly deep. It is a good beach book for sure.