"Give me books, French wine, fruit, fine weather, and a little music played out of doors by somebody I do not know." - John Keats

"You're not allowed to say anything about books because they're books and books are, you know, God." - Nick Hornby

Monday, April 13, 2015

Review #12: The Peach Keeper, Sarah Addison Allen

I downloaded this from the local library the other day so I would have something to listen to while I walked in the evenings. (Even though it feels like it's 90 degrees already and it's only April. What am I going to do when it's August???) Anyway, I needed something sort of fluffy and chick lit-esque that I could sort of half listen to while I huffed and puffed my way through the soup that is known as Florida air and I thought this would fit the bill.

The Peach Keeper tells the interwoven story of two thirty-something women living in quaint Walls of Water, NC, in the foothills of the Blue Ridge mountains. Willa Jackson is the former high school joker, running a coffee and organic clothing shop that caters mainly to hikers. Paxton Osgood is the cool, blonde ex-cheerleader, president of the Young Women's Society, spending her days deciding how best to distribute the family money. Rounding out the cast of characters are Colin Osgood, Paxton's twin brother, who has a thing for Willa, Paxton's parents, who are quintessential old money Southerners, Annie, Willa's young business partner who thinks that she can predict a person's personality based on their coffee habits, and Sebastian, the possibly gay dentist, with whom Paxton is in love. Making a few cameos in a story that felt like it was meant to run parallel to Paxton and Willa's but never really hit the mark are Agatha Osgood, Paxton's grandmother, and Georgie Jackson, Willa's grandmother, both of whom live in the same nursing home.

Paxton has recently spent a year restoring the Blue Ridge Madam, the town's grandest home, long abandoned by Willa's ancestors, in the hopes that it will be ready to host the anniversary gala of the Young Women's Society, a club that was started by Paxton's and Willa's grandmothers 75 years ago. But when a peach tree planted on the property is moved to make room for a live oak, a skeleton is discovered, and long-buried secrets threaten to spill out. Suddenly, Paxton and Willa find themselves tangled together and must unravel a seventy-five-year-old mystery. 

I wasn't in love with this book. It was adequate for what it was, and it kept me interested enough to keep walking, but the characters were pretty one-note. The mystery wasn't exactly a mystery; I put two and two together pretty quickly, and I was only really sort of half listening. t found the story and the subsequent happily-ever-after ending for everyone a little bit trite, and Allen tried to interject some southern ghostly happenings, but they never really took off. Actually, I think that's what bothered me the most. The ghostly sightings or bells ringing when nobody was there felt contrived and almost after the fact. There was potential for a really compelling story - a nearly century old mystery, the catty women in the Young Women's Society (which could have had quite a few delicious scenes, but only produced one sort of half-hearted argument), unrequited love, family drama - but it just never really took flight for me. I'll give it three stars, but to be honest, I finished it Saturday, and I'm having trouble remembering the details two days later.

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