Look at me, expertly avoiding the dreaded post about The Marriage Plot (“I shall conquer this, I shall!”) and jumping ahead to the lovely The Peach Keeper. It’s probably my least favorite of Addison Allen’s novels, but it’s still kinda great. She’s that kind of author: a Deliverer. You want a bit of Southern comfort? You got it.
If you’ve read any of her books, you’ll recognize some of the elements: a couple of families in a Southern village, a strong sense of place and “roots”, a mysterious past, magic realism elements that are never enough to classify her books as fantasy, strangers who walk into town and heroines who are at odds with their lives.
The setting this time is Walls of Water, North Carolina. Although both descending from rich families, Willa Jackson and Paxton Osgood are now on difference wavelengths of society’s spectrum. Willa’s family lost their money and she now owns a hiking shop, while Paxton, still part of the élite, is the President of the local Women’s Group and the coordinator of their most ambitious project to date: restoring the mansion where both hers and Willa’s grandmothers used to live and where a mysterious event changed their lives forever.
Once again Addison Allen writes satisfying romances for both her heroines, but more than in any of her earlier books, this is a story about female friendship.
Paxton was particularly interesting because she had everything to be another Hilly Holbrook (The Help), or Lemon Breeland (The Heart of Dixie), or any other stuck-up rich Southern woman, but she breaks the stereotype and turns into an incredibly realistic character. With money and the pedigree comes an obligation to family and community, and while Paxton’s twin brother escaped by leaving Walls of Water, Paxton is trapped in her golden cage, her own dreams and aspirations becoming secondary. It’s a very fresh take on the Southern Belle.
Although food is less central in The Peach Keeper than in the other Addison Allen books, it’s still present (it’s Southern lit after all!), most noticeably though a funny cameo appearance of Claire Waverly from Garden Spells.
I’m now officially in count-down mode to her next novel – I hope she feels well enough soon to continue delighting us!
Read for the Southern Literature Challenge 2012.
Other thoughts: Tiny Library, An Armchair by the Sea, You’ve GOTTA Read This, Estante de Livros (PT), Literature and a Lens, The Written Word, The Adventures of an Intrepid Reader, Coffee and a Book Chick, Angieville, Boston Book Bums, St. Krishna’s Books, Alison’s Book Marks, Books Distilled, Always with a Book, Good Books & Good Wine, Literate Housewife, Book Addiction, Fizzy Thoughts, Page After Page, write meg!, Jenn’s Bookshelves, Lesa’s Book Critiques, Confessions of a Book Hoarder, Amy’s Book Obsession, Reflections of a Bookaholic, Book Maven’s Blog, Beth’s Book-Nook, A Few More Pages, Crazy for Books, Redlady’s Reading Room, Chachic’s Book Nook, Beyond Books (yours?)