The Peach Keeper
by Sarah Addison Allen

Bantam, 2011. ISBN 978-0-553-80722-6.
Reviewed by Susan Ideus
Posted on 03/23/2011

Fiction: Mainstream

The Peach Keeper by Sarah Addison Allen is a lyrical and lavish tale of past and present lives, hopes, secrets and expectations. It is a story of loves and friendships, both those enduring and those misplaced, of being lost and coming home again. Allen weaves her enchantment, as always, around her well-developed, believable, albeit somewhat quirky, characters. Her own special vibrant elements of place and history and just a touch of the supernatural for good measure make the book a treat to read.

The Osgoods and the Jacksons have always been the backbone of Walls of Water, a small North Carolina hamlet named for its many waterfalls, and full of memories, tradition, magic and apparitions. Their lives have been intertwined as far back as anyone remembers. When the Osgoods decide to resurrect the old Jackson mansion, The Blue Ridge Madam, and turn it into a bed and breakfast inn, the weight of their combined past secrets threatens the status quo of the town society and the families involved. Pride, misunderstandings and long-held beliefs conspire to jeopardize all that local society scions hold dear and have kept secret for decades. But is that always a recipe for doom and disaster?

With gentle humor, a touch of the unexpected and great insight into the true strength of the human soul, Allen composes a work of possibilities and triumph over insecurities and human foibles. Characters change and grow by giving up unrealistic expectations of themselves, their families and a town, leaving their pasts where they belong. They dare to lead with their hearts instead of their minds, and learn to accept each day as it presents itself. They are a varied lot—from the barista who studies the "science" of coffee orders to a sporting goods store owner who disdains the outdoor life to a blind grandmother who sees more than most of those around her. There's one unconventional native son who cannot sleep when he's in Walls of Water but cannot seem to stay away—and another who's come home to prove his worth to the town and to himself. And there are the ghosts...

The Peach Keeper is intriguing, abounds in detail and description, and will hold your interest from start to finish. I'm a confirmed Sarah Addison Allen fan and this latest book did not disappoint. Her lovely prose will draw you in, and you will feel at home with her multi-faceted characters. Their splendidly-crafted stories will make you think about the meaning of true friendship and give you hope in possibilities and potentialities. This book is a keeper!

Read an excerpt from this book.

Sarah Addison Allen was born and raised in Asheville, North Carolina. She holds a B.A. in Literature. She wrote her first novel when she was 16 and her first published work was a Harlequin Romance. Her first and very successful mainstream novel was Garden Spells, followed by The Sugar Queen and The Girl Who Chased the Moon. Find out more on her website.

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