Modern Lit: The Peach Keeper, by Sarah Addison Allen

The Peach KeeperThe Joker, the Princess, the Stick Man, and the Freak

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Among all their high school contemporaries, only Willa Jackson and Paxton Osgood still live in their small hometown, Walls of Water, North Carolina. Willa, nicknamed “The Joker” for the pranks she used to play, is now somewhat reclusive, and runs the “green” sporting goods shop. Paxton, the “Princess” born with the proverbial silver spoon, still lives with her parents and runs the Women’s Society Club. These women were never friends during high school, but that is about to change, because two of the boys are back in town. The “Freak”, impossibly handsome Sebastian, takes over the practice of the town’s retired dentist, and everyone knows he’s gay, so Paxton’s close friendship with him must be platonic, right? Paxton’s twin, Colin, the “Stick Man”, is a landscape architect, and he’s arrived in Walls of Water to help her oversee the renovation of the once grand house known as The Blue Ridge Madam. Colin finds Willa to invite her to view the restoration, because the estate was owned by her family before they encountered hard times, and had to sell the place to Colin’s grandparents. Just as the restoration approaches completion, a skeleton is unearthed, and relationships that only recently were remote will undergo remarkable transformation.

Sarah Addison Allen is well on her way to becoming a favorite author. Her style is an irresistible blend of magic, food, and romantic attraction, tempered with a large dollop of mystery. Her characters are always start off rather repressed, and as the plot develops, so do they, and before the book is half over, you’re pulling hard for them to discover their true identities, in addition to finding each other. In The Peach Keeper, the setting, with its myriad of waterfalls and misty mornings and evenings, is magical in its own right; throw in the old sayings, superstitions, signs, and portents that keep cropping up, and the memories of the two elderly grandmas who are the only folks in town who know the whole truth, and you’ve got a novel that will keep you up half the night. Enchanting!

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