I have to hand it to Sarah Addison Allen. What a heartfelt and “feel good” book to read! I have not come across one like this since I finished The Tower, the Zoo and the Tortoise by Julia Stuart, several months ago. The Peach Keeper is uplifting, it made me laugh out loud, and cry like no tomorrow. There is no stronger message in this book than the importance of true friendship. Add to it some superstitions and a town ghost—and you have the makings for a wonderful story.
Willa Jackson and Paxton Osgood are acquainted with one another from high school, but they have no idea how close their grandmothers once were in this tiny town known as Walls of Water, North Carolina. Nor do they realize that their grandmothers’ past will bring them closer together, after a body is discovered under a peach tree that is being dug out to be replaced by a massive old oak tree.
The removal of the tree is to fix up the grounds where Willa’s great-great grandfather had built The Blue Ridge Madam in the 1800’s as a gift for his wife. In 1936, it became the heart of the newly formed Women’s Society Club, which was founded by Georgie Jackson and Agatha Osgood. Seventy-five years later, Paxton is the president of the Club and has plans to restore the building so that the 75th gala can be held there.
The ensuing relationships that form and the hidden secrets that are revealed, will make it hard for you to put the book down. I read this novel within three days and was enormously satisfied. I think we need more good stories such as this one to help us get through the day. It makes for a good light read.
For a book review on The Peach Keeper from the Southern Literary Review click on the link below:
For information about the author:
What did you think about this book? Did it give you that tingly feeling inside, as it did me? If anyone heard it as an audiobook, I’d like to know how well it was done and if there were different voices for each character.
Here are some questions to think about:
-What do you think the title The Peach Keeper means? Who is the peach keeper in the story?
-The Blue Ridge Madam takes on a life of its own in the novel, becoming much more than a building. What do you think it represents for the town? For Willa and Paxton?
For more of where the above questions came from, I found a PDF of questions from the author’s website. Click on the link to read them:
Although there is no town named Walls of Water near Asheville, North Carolina, I did find a town that has a very similar feel to what Allen was describing in her book. She herself, admits that the town is actually a mix of several towns from the Transylvania County, NC—but I found a town that is less than an hour drive from Asheville, is located at the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains (hence, the name “Blue Ridge Madam” for the old house), AND has a waterfall just like the famous “Tinpenny Falls” in the story, named Pearson’s Falls, which has a 90-foot drop. Check the link below for the information on the town called Tryon:
And just as Tinpenny Falls was named after the man who discovered it, so is Pearson’s Falls named after the man who found the landmark. Read about Pearson’s Falls here:
This book reminded me of …
I don’t know why I thought about The Help by Kathryn Stockett when reading Allen’s novel. Possibly because the theme of friendship rings throughout that book as well. Also, there is the whole Southern American little town, where everyone knows about everyone else and everything—not to mention the woman’s club that exists in there too. Hands up if The Peach Keeper strongly reminded you of the movie Fried Green Tomatoes. I never read the book and I had seen the movie a long time ago, but I particularly remember the scene where one woman helps her friend get out of an abusive relationship. I also remember that it was a really good movie. I need to see that film again.
Favorite quotes from book:
This month I have two!
1) “She couldn’t even bring in bags of groceries without her mother’s commentary. This was what her daydreams had come to. She fantasized about keeping a box of doughnuts on her kitchen counter and having no one comment on them”. (p. 17-18)
2) “Fate never promises to tell you everything up front. You aren’t always shown the path in life you’re supposed to take … but … sometimes, when you’re really lucky, you meet someone with a map.” (p. 242)
Most hilarious moment in the story:
I’m sure the scene where Paxton has her meeting with the Women’s Society Club at the beginning of the book got you rolling on the floor. When all the ladies start confessing their true thoughts out loud to each other, it made me want to give each character a medal for at least being honest, no matter how rude! Of course, we know, there was a little bit of a spell on everyone in the room … (p. 24-25)
Next month’s title:
The Cookbook Collector by Allegra Goodman