I heart Sarah Addison Allen.
Whew, glad to get that off my chest. I've read her three previous novels and enjoyed all three, so my expectations were high for The Peach Keeper. I have to admit, I was a little concerned when I saw how small this novel is because honestly, I enjoy spending time with Allen's characters so much that I felt I wasn't going to get my money's worth. And while that still remains my main complaint about this novel, I am definitely pleased to say that my expectations were met just fine...not something that happens frequently with beloved authors.
The Peach Keeper is set in Walls of Water, a sleepy little mountain town in NC. In high school Willa was the silent class joker; Paxton was the goody goody popular girl; Sebastian was the oddball outcast; and Colin, Paxton's twin, was the slightly stiff hunk. Fast forward and they are all now in their early 30s, and life hasn't turned out to be what any of them had envisioned in high school. In fact, their days rarely if ever intersect until Paxton, a captive still to her mother's wishes, decides to renovate the Blue Ridge Madam, a stately home that was once the family seat of Willa's family before they became impoverished in the 1930s. Willa is reluctantly drawn back into the house when Paxton wishes to honor their grandmothers' friendship by including Willa in the opening gala. When a body is discoverd on the grounds, events take a more curious turn--why is the body buried with a fedora? What are the old newspaper clippings about?
In my estimation, there isn't as much magic in this story as in the previous novels by Ms. Allen, but that doesn't mean the spark isn't there. The author excels at tentative romance, and this book has some moments that shine between the main characters. I do believe the story could have stood a bit more fleshing out--I would like to have learned more details of the grandmothers' relationship,for example,but all in all, this is a gem of book. Ms. Allen has once again delighted this reader with her unique characterizations and her interesting settings. Recommended.