The Peach Keeper by Sarah Addison Allen
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
The Peach Keeper is a magical fantasy romance set in a town called Wall Of Water in North Carolina. The town, at the edge of a national park, is often shrouded in dense fog from the nearby falls.
Paxton Osgood and her family have been renovating an old building known as The Blue Ridge Madam. Once the home of a logging family, it fell into disrepair. Willa Jackson is a descendent of the owners of The Madam, but she’s never stepped into the house, once rumoured to be haunted.
Chairwomen of the Women’s Society Club, Paxton has sent out invites to the clubs 75th anniversary celebrations which will be combined with the grand opening of The Madam. Paxton wants to see the granddaughter of one of the founders of the club (Willa) to bring her grandmother along, but Willa is reluctant.
The discovery of a skeleton under a peach tree in the grounds of The Madam threaten Paxton’s plans. Believed to be the remains of magical travelling man Tucker Devlin, secrets from the past buried with the body come to light; none are more shocking than Nana Osgood’s revelations.
There’s a wonderful magical element to this book, from the storm that caused the invites to be delivered to wrong houses, the store bell that rang when no-one was there, to the magical smell of peaches wafting on the air. Love and true friendship mix with this cosy mystery.
Here are two of my favourite quotes from the book:
‘Happiness means taking risks, and if you’re not a little scared, you’re not doing it right.’
‘If you make room in your life- good things will enter.’
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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.
New York Times Bestselling novelist Sarah Addison Allen brings the full flavor of her southern upbringing to bear on her fiction — a captivating blend of magical realism, heartwarming romance, and small-town sensibility.
Born and raised in Asheville, North Carolina, in the heart of the Blue Ridge Mountains, Allen grew up with a love of books and an appreciation of good food (she credits her journalist father for the former and her mother, a fabulous cook, for the latter). In college, she majored in literature — because, as she puts it, “I thought it was amazing that I could get a diploma just for reading fiction. It was like being able to major in eating chocolate.”
After graduation, Allen began writing seriously. Her big break occurred in 2007 with the publication of her first mainstream novel, Garden Spells, a modern-day fairy tale about an enchanted apple tree and the family of North Carolina women who tend it. Booklist called Allen’s accomplished debut “spellbindingly charming.” The novel became a Barnes & Noble Recommends selection, and then a New York Times Bestseller.
Allen continues to serve heaping helpings of the fantastic and the familiar in fiction she describes as “Southern-fried magic realism.” Clearly, it’s a recipe readers are happy to eat up as fast as she can dish it out.
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