Reviewed by Krista Castner

First, let me admit that before reading The Peach Keeper, I’d never read any of Sarah Addison Allen’s books. I’ve heard wonderful things about her earlier work, Garden Spells. I was so looking forward to having the opportunity to read and review Allen’s latest book. Unfortunately, I didn’t enjoy The Peach Keeper as much as I had hoped to. This book is basically southern chic-lit with a touch of magical realism thrown in. I didn’t find it to be very compelling or memorable.

The story is set in Walls of Water, North Carolina, which is a tourist town where the mist from the waterfalls often enshrouds the local buildings. Likewise, a psychological mist seems to have settled on the main characters in this book. I’d call this a coming-of-age tale, but the main protagonists are all about 30 years old which is a bit old to be coming-of-age. That may be my biggest problem with the premise of the whole story. If it was set in high-school it would have been more realistic. Several times while reading the book I thought to myself, “Oh, just grow up already!”

Willa Jackson was an anonymous practical joker in high-school who couldn’t wait to escape Walls of Water. But she returned to town after her father’s death and is now living a solitary life running a sporting goods store in town. Paxton Osgood is the rich goody two-shoes who never left town. In fact she’s never left her parents upper class home. She’s the straight laced southern girl pleasing everyone but herself. Her twin brother Colin has spent years travelling as a landscape architect in part to avoid the clinging demands of his rigid mother. Sebastian Rogers was a social outcast in high-school and is still an enigma when he returns to town and buys the local dental practice. The main story revolves around how these four characters sort out their lives, including their romances, individually and collectively.

There’s a mildly intriguing mystery surrounding Willa and Paxton’s grandmothers. It was pretty easy to figure out the mystery before it was abruptly wrapped up at the end of the book. There’s a bit of magical realism thrown in, but it’s not a central element of the plotline. The Peach Keeper is a quick read, and by no means a horrible, terrible, awful book. It just didn’t live up to the high praise Allen’s other work has garnered.

Rating: 3/5

Krista lives just outside the urban sprawl of Portland, Oregon. Lamentably, her work as a technical writer and business analyst often interferes with her reading which is a true passion.

Review copy was provided free of any obligation by Bantam. No monetary or any other form of compensation was received.