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Sarah Addison Allen

The Peach Keeper : A Novel

Average Rating:out of 5 stars
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The Blue Ridge Madam was built by Willa Jackson's great-great-grandfather and was once the finest home in Walls of Water, North Carolina. Willa learns that an old classmate--socialite Paxton Osgood--has restored the house to its former glory, with plans to turn it into a topflight inn. But after a skeleton is found buried beneath a peach tree, long-kept secrets come to light.

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The Blue Ridge Madam was built by Willa Jackson's great-great-grandfather and was once the finest home in Walls of Water, North Carolina. Willa learns that an old classmate--socialite Paxton Osgood--has restored the house to its former glory, with plans to turn it into a topflight inn. But after a skeleton is found buried beneath a peach tree, long-kept secrets come to light.

NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER • “[Sarah Addison Allen] juggles small-town history and mystical thriller, character development and eerie magical realism in a fine Southern gothic drama.”Publishers Weekly

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 and once the finest home in Walls of Water, North Carolina—has stood for years as a monument to misfortune and scandal. Willa has lately learned that an old classmate—socialite Paxton Osgood—has restored the house to its former glory, with plans to turn it into a top-flight inn. But when a skeleton is found buried beneath the property’s lone peach tree, long-kept secrets come to light, accompanied by a spate of strange occurrences throughout the town. Thrust together in an unlikely friendship, united by a full-blooded mystery, Willa and Paxton must confront the passions and betrayals that once bound their families—and uncover the truths that have transcended time to touch the hearts of the living.

Praise for The Peach Keeper

“Secrets are ready to be uncovered. . . . Allen masterfully weaves a Southern world of believable characters and keeps readers flipping pages with this dreamy one-nighter.”Southern Literary Review
 
“In this delectable, read-in-one-sitting treasure, Allen once again demonstrates her astonishing ability to believably blur the lines between the magical and the mundane.”Booklist
 
“Peppered with Allen’s trademark Southern charm . . . a must-read for fans of Alice Hoffman.”Library Journal
 
“Immensely readable . . . pulses with sensual details.”—The Denver Post

“Sarah Addison Allen writes the kind of books I love best: rich, magical, irresistible.”New York Times bestselling author Susan Elizabeth Phillips

Specifications

Series Title
Random House Reader's Circle
Publisher
Random House Publishing Group
Book Format
Paperback
Original Languages
English
Number of Pages
304
Author
Sarah Addison Allen
Title
The Peach Keeper
ISBN-13
9780553385601
Publication Date
January, 2012
Assembled Product Dimensions (L x W x H)
8.20 x 5.49 x 0.62 Inches
ISBN-10
0553385607

Customer Reviews

Average Rating:(3.8)out of 5 stars
5 stars
31
4 stars
69
3 stars
37
2 stars
11
1 star
1
Most helpful positive review
1 customers found this helpful
Average Rating:(5.0)out of 5 stars
Willa Jackson and form...
Willa Jackson and former classmate Paxton Osgood have never been close friends despite the fact that their grandmothers were inseparable. With their stations reversed from past generations - the Jackson family meeting financial ruin and the Osgoods climbing to social elite - the two girls have never had much in common. However, when Paxton takes on the project of restoring the Blue Ridge Madam, a mansion built by Willa's ancestors, a skeleton buried under a peach tree thrusts Paxton and Willa together to uncover the secrets and half truths hidden in the distant - and not-so-distant - past. In The Peach Keeper, Sarah Addison Allen has composed another gem of a novel. Set in Walls of Water, North Carolina the story is infused with the signature southern charm and touch of magic that distinguished Allen's previous works (The Sugar Queen, Garden Spells). The mystery is compelling and the characters are delightful. Willa and Paxton were equally enjoyable to read and as the masks that each hid behind were whittled away, I was torn between which heroine I preferred. Though less dependent on fantasy elements than some of Allen's other novels, The Peach Keeper still had an air of magical realism to it. Allen fans will also enjoy a brief cameo appearance from a past heroine. I really enjoyed this book. The plot is fresh and unique but the themes of love and friendship - across generations, past grudges, and hurdling stereotypes - are timeless.
Most helpful negative review
1 customers found this helpful
Average Rating:(2.0)out of 5 stars
Willa Jackson moved ba...
Willa Jackson moved back to Walls of Water, North Carolina after her father died. She doesn't have great memories of her time growing up there and doesn't interact much with the residents. She is fascinated by the restoration of the Blue Ridge Madam Mansion as it used to belong to her family. Paxton Osgood is a former schoolmate of Willa's. She is in charge of the restoration of the mansion and Willa and Paxton can't help but cross paths, especially as Willa gets involved with Paxton's brother Colin who has returned to town to oversee the landscaping. But when an old peach tree is removed, a body is found buried there. I really enjoyed Garden Spells and always meant to read more of Allen's work. However, I was disappointed by The Peach Keeper. Willa is carrying around guilt about her antics in high school that she thinks ended up getting her science teacher father fired. Paxton lives with her parents even though she wants to live on her own. I found that annoying that she didn't just move out. Also, the novel focuses on her friendship with an old friend Sebastion, who may or may not be gay but Paxton is in love with him. Willa's focus on her high school pranks and trying to forget them also seemed irrelevant. There wasn't as much focus on the dead body and that seemed more of a back story, which is too bad because it was far more interesting. The novel just seemed to be missing the magic I had been expecting. The plot left me unsatisfied and the characters just didn't capture me. This won't keep me from eventually reading The Sugar Queen, but I'm not sure about future books by Allen. My review is in the minority but I also believe people have loyalty to favorite authors and may not have loved this as much as they proclaimed. If you must read this, borrow from the library.
Most helpful positive review
1 customers found this helpful
Average Rating:(5.0)out of 5 stars
Willa Jackson and form...
Willa Jackson and former classmate Paxton Osgood have never been close friends despite the fact that their grandmothers were inseparable. With their stations reversed from past generations - the Jackson family meeting financial ruin and the Osgoods climbing to social elite - the two girls have never had much in common. However, when Paxton takes on the project of restoring the Blue Ridge Madam, a mansion built by Willa's ancestors, a skeleton buried under a peach tree thrusts Paxton and Willa together to uncover the secrets and half truths hidden in the distant - and not-so-distant - past. In The Peach Keeper, Sarah Addison Allen has composed another gem of a novel. Set in Walls of Water, North Carolina the story is infused with the signature southern charm and touch of magic that distinguished Allen's previous works (The Sugar Queen, Garden Spells). The mystery is compelling and the characters are delightful. Willa and Paxton were equally enjoyable to read and as the masks that each hid behind were whittled away, I was torn between which heroine I preferred. Though less dependent on fantasy elements than some of Allen's other novels, The Peach Keeper still had an air of magical realism to it. Allen fans will also enjoy a brief cameo appearance from a past heroine. I really enjoyed this book. The plot is fresh and unique but the themes of love and friendship - across generations, past grudges, and hurdling stereotypes - are timeless.
Most helpful negative review
1 customers found this helpful
Average Rating:(2.0)out of 5 stars
Willa Jackson moved ba...
Willa Jackson moved back to Walls of Water, North Carolina after her father died. She doesn't have great memories of her time growing up there and doesn't interact much with the residents. She is fascinated by the restoration of the Blue Ridge Madam Mansion as it used to belong to her family. Paxton Osgood is a former schoolmate of Willa's. She is in charge of the restoration of the mansion and Willa and Paxton can't help but cross paths, especially as Willa gets involved with Paxton's brother Colin who has returned to town to oversee the landscaping. But when an old peach tree is removed, a body is found buried there. I really enjoyed Garden Spells and always meant to read more of Allen's work. However, I was disappointed by The Peach Keeper. Willa is carrying around guilt about her antics in high school that she thinks ended up getting her science teacher father fired. Paxton lives with her parents even though she wants to live on her own. I found that annoying that she didn't just move out. Also, the novel focuses on her friendship with an old friend Sebastion, who may or may not be gay but Paxton is in love with him. Willa's focus on her high school pranks and trying to forget them also seemed irrelevant. There wasn't as much focus on the dead body and that seemed more of a back story, which is too bad because it was far more interesting. The novel just seemed to be missing the magic I had been expecting. The plot left me unsatisfied and the characters just didn't capture me. This won't keep me from eventually reading The Sugar Queen, but I'm not sure about future books by Allen. My review is in the minority but I also believe people have loyalty to favorite authors and may not have loved this as much as they proclaimed. If you must read this, borrow from the library.
Willa Jackson and former classmate Paxton Osgood have never been close friends despite the fact that their grandmothers were inseparable. With their stations reversed from past generations - the Jackson family meeting financial ruin and the Osgoods climbing to social elite - the two girls have never had much in common. However, when Paxton takes on the project of restoring the Blue Ridge Madam, a mansion built by Willa's ancestors, a skeleton buried under a peach tree thrusts Paxton and Willa together to uncover the secrets and half truths hidden in the distant - and not-so-distant - past. In The Peach Keeper, Sarah Addison Allen has composed another gem of a novel. Set in Walls of Water, North Carolina the story is infused with the signature southern charm and touch of magic that distinguished Allen's previous works (The Sugar Queen, Garden Spells). The mystery is compelling and the characters are delightful. Willa and Paxton were equally enjoyable to read and as the masks that each hid behind were whittled away, I was torn between which heroine I preferred. Though less dependent on fantasy elements than some of Allen's other novels, The Peach Keeper still had an air of magical realism to it. Allen fans will also enjoy a brief cameo appearance from a past heroine. I really enjoyed this book. The plot is fresh and unique but the themes of love and friendship - across generations, past grudges, and hurdling stereotypes - are timeless.
Willa Jackson moved back to Walls of Water, North Carolina after her father died. She doesn't have great memories of her time growing up there and doesn't interact much with the residents. She is fascinated by the restoration of the Blue Ridge Madam Mansion as it used to belong to her family. Paxton Osgood is a former schoolmate of Willa's. She is in charge of the restoration of the mansion and Willa and Paxton can't help but cross paths, especially as Willa gets involved with Paxton's brother Colin who has returned to town to oversee the landscaping. But when an old peach tree is removed, a body is found buried there. I really enjoyed Garden Spells and always meant to read more of Allen's work. However, I was disappointed by The Peach Keeper. Willa is carrying around guilt about her antics in high school that she thinks ended up getting her science teacher father fired. Paxton lives with her parents even though she wants to live on her own. I found that annoying that she didn't just move out. Also, the novel focuses on her friendship with an old friend Sebastion, who may or may not be gay but Paxton is in love with him. Willa's focus on her high school pranks and trying to forget them also seemed irrelevant. There wasn't as much focus on the dead body and that seemed more of a back story, which is too bad because it was far more interesting. The novel just seemed to be missing the magic I had been expecting. The plot left me unsatisfied and the characters just didn't capture me. This won't keep me from eventually reading The Sugar Queen, but I'm not sure about future books by Allen. My review is in the minority but I also believe people have loyalty to favorite authors and may not have loved this as much as they proclaimed. If you must read this, borrow from the library.

Frequent mentions

1-5 of 149 reviews
Average Rating:(5.0)out of 5 stars

Willa Jackson and form...

Willa Jackson and former classmate Paxton Osgood have never been close friends despite the fact that their grandmothers were inseparable. With their stations reversed from past generations - the Jackson family meeting financial ruin and the Osgoods climbing to social elite - the two girls have never had much in common. However, when Paxton takes on the project of restoring the Blue Ridge Madam, a mansion built by Willa's ancestors, a skeleton buried under a peach tree thrusts Paxton and Willa together to uncover the secrets and half truths hidden in the distant - and not-so-distant - past. In The Peach Keeper, Sarah Addison Allen has composed another gem of a novel. Set in Walls of Water, North Carolina the story is infused with the signature southern charm and touch of magic that distinguished Allen's previous works (The Sugar Queen, Garden Spells). The mystery is compelling and the characters are delightful. Willa and Paxton were equally enjoyable to read and as the masks that each hid behind were whittled away, I was torn between which heroine I preferred. Though less dependent on fantasy elements than some of Allen's other novels, The Peach Keeper still had an air of magical realism to it. Allen fans will also enjoy a brief cameo appearance from a past heroine. I really enjoyed this book. The plot is fresh and unique but the themes of love and friendship - across generations, past grudges, and hurdling stereotypes - are timeless.

Helpful?
Average Rating:(5.0)out of 5 stars

Another winner for Sar...

Another winner for Sarah Addison Allen! This book deals with life long friendships going bad for women growing up in a small town, a little magic, sweet smells left by ghosts. But new friendships form and take over to make it a wonderful , take you away read.

Helpful?
Average Rating:(4.0)out of 5 stars

Missed the magic of he...

Missed the magic of her other books (even tho Claire Waverly makes a cameo catering) but still enjoyed the read. 4 old classmates reunite and find themselves (and each other) when skeletons are unearthed and memories shared. Allen's books are always like visiting good friends. Relaxing, warming and needed.

Helpful?
Average Rating:(4.0)out of 5 stars

Willa Jackson is keepi...

Willa Jackson is keeping a low profile in the small town of Walls of Water. Though she used to be quite a mischievous teenager, the grown-up Willa now runs a green sporting goods store and leads a very simple life. When an invitation to a society gala turns up in her mailbox, she wants nothing to do with it. It seems some of the wealthier young ladies in town have decided to refurbish The Blue Ridge Madam, a dilapidated mansion that was once home to Willa's grandmother. Willa's grandmother was once a smart society maven in her own right, and it was only due to chance and misfortune that she ever fell away from that kind of life. Paxton Osgood's grandmother, however, never fell away from that lifestyle, and now that the women's society in Wall's of Water has fallen into her hands, she's eager to celebrate its 75th anniversary with a gala. Paxton and her twin brother Colin have never been friends with Willa, but all that is about to change when strange occurrences and unexpected run-ins begin to take place between the three with alarming frequency. In her efforts to avoid the gala, Willa will begin to uncover the strange and magical secrets that led to the formation of the women's society, and the hidden secrets of her own lineage. Meanwhile, Paxton seems to be in love with a man who's completely unavailable to her, has her hands full with her wealthy mother who insists that she live at home, and the re-dedication of the Madam in time for the gala. Blending magical realism with a suspenseful southern Gothic feel, The Peach Keeper is a playful read with a serious side that will keep new and old fans alike caught up in the mystery of Walls of Water. Sarah Addison Allen's name is one I've heard in so many bookish circles that I can't even remember a time when I didn't know it. I guess what I'm trying to say is that she has a lot of fans out there, and that even though most people like her, I was hesitant to jump into the fray and try out her offerings because I was afraid I might be the only bookish person on the planet who didn't like her work. I let all of her other books pass me by, and though I do have a copy of Garden Spells hanging around here somewhere, this was my first read by Allen, and it was facilitated by Books Babes and Bordeaux, who ambitiously decided that we would read two books for the July meeting. The first was the unforgettable Before I Fall and the second was The Peach Keeper. When I first dove into this book, I was surprised at how compulsively readable it was. Allen has a way of making her story immediately engaging and just quirky enough to keep you flipping pages. There were small hints of magical realism that, while not tipping the book fully into that genre, provided a great mystical and magical feel that I thought were very clever. This is a book that seems to place its reader right into the action and begins to sort out the story around them as they read. There were several threads going on all at once, and each was given equal footing as it shared the stage with the others. There were really two protagonists here: Willa and Paxton; and though they were both dealing with very different issues, they shared some of the same character traits that it was impossible not to see as the story progressed. The men in this story played supporting roles, but they were each developed and nuanced like the more major characters, which is something that I really liked. While this story would fit right into the women's fiction genre, it also had the components of a mystery, a love story and it even bent into the genre of magical realism. That's a pretty impressive straddling of genres in my opinion, and as the story wound its way around and through its vast permutations, it also became a story about friendship, family, and loyalty. Allen does a lot to make her story feel fresh and to keep her dialogue sparkling. I remember thinking that a lot of her character interactions were very witty and spunky, and I was pleased that so much care was given over to each piece of the puzzle. As secrets of the past and present intermingle, the story takes on the weight and heft of a more serious novel, but the lightness and verve of the writing doesn't let the story turn dour and heavy. I read along at a good clip because Allen has a way of keeping her characters embedded in puzzling and intriguing situations, which translate well into keeping readers captivated and invested in their plights. The only problem I had with the book had to do with a character's sudden reversal of a crucial personality trait, which I felt was just a little too convenient and conciliatory for me. It wasn't a huge issue but it did make me wonder if all the confusion regarding this reversal was just an elaborate ploy to garner a more appealing and titillating plot. I'm hesitating to say more about this than I really want to because I don't want to spoil the book for future readers, but it irked me a little more than it probably should have. I know this is something I'm going to be bringing up at the meeting and getting other opinions on, but I felt my review would be incomplete without mentioning the fact that I had one sticking point with the book. While I did have a minor problem with one issue in the book, overall the story and execution pleased me greatly and I had a really good time with it. I'm glad to find that I enjoyed this first foray into Allen's work and I look forward to sampling a few more of her books. I think a lot of readers would enjoy this book, and it's really a prefect summer read due to it's lightness and its ability to engage readers from the first page. I'm looking forward to hearing what everyone else thought about it and comparing that to the reception the book has gotten on the blogs. A really fun and undemanding read.

Helpful?
Average Rating:(4.0)out of 5 stars

Sarah Addison Allen is...

Sarah Addison Allen is my absolute favorite author, so I was excited to read The Peach Keeper. While I didn't enjoy it as much as her other books, I did find myself staying up late at night to finish it. It seems to be lacking some of the "magic" that Allen's other books have, but I do love that a character from Garden Spells made an appearance in this book. Overall, if you've enjoyed other books by this author then I think this one is worth reading.

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