Sarah Addison Allen is a new author to me and The Peach Keeper is a book I chose purely after reading reviews of it on other blogs; I would never have heard of it otherwise. It tells the story of two very different women, Willa and Paxton, in the fictional town of Walls of Water, North Carolina. Willa is trying to escape from her small town roots and past without actually moving away and Paxton looks like she has the perfect life but is a mess of anxieties underneath. When a human skeleton is uncovered under a peach tree on the grounds of a house they are both connected to, the two women are thrown together and discover a lot about themselves and their family histories.
I don't think I am the right reader for this book. There was technically nothing wrong with it, it's light but well written and the story skips along at a pleasant pace. There are elements of magical realism but they are on the whole well done and there is decent character development. Despite this, I came away from this book overwhelmed by the sweetness of the whole thing.
It's the same feeling I got after reading The Secret Life Of Bees, there was just too much that was cliche, too much sisterhood and female bonding and far too many happily ever afters. Too much sentiment for this particular reader. The male characters seemed to exist solely for the reason to make the female characters happy (but of course only at the end of the novel). The plot developments were predictable and as the tone didn't mesh with me, there wasn't much pleasure in watching them unravel.
I've just reread that last paragraph and it does sound very harsh. Don't take just my word for it, there are plenty of reviews I've seen praising this book highly. As I said, it's not poorly written and there are elements I enjoyed; it's just not my kind of book. If you don't mind a bit of sentimentality with your escapism then it could be the book for you.
Verdict: Well written story of two women in small town America with magical elements, unfortunately too sweet for me.
First Published: March 2011
Score: 2.5 out of 5