Sarah Addison Allen writes magic: her stories are full of strong Southern women, sweetness and secrets. In The Peach Keeper: A Novel, she once again weaves a wonderful tale of two Southern women, distant in the present but bound together by the past and a powerful secret. Paxton Osgood has spent her life being the girl and then the woman that everyone seemed to expect her to be. Willa Jackson is just the opposite. She defied convention and her grandmother's attempt at a strict upbringing, only to 'lock down' that wild child to become a responsible adult. Neither woman is truly happy, each wanting some part of who the other is, not realizing that what marks them as different, really makes them so much the same.
Paxton is in charge of the restoration of the Blue Ridge Madam, a spectacular home formerly owned by Willa's ancestors, but lost during the financial crisis of the Depression. During the landscaping, a skeleton is dug up from beneath the lone peach tree. The skeleton brings to light secrets from the past, secrets of a Magic Man who held the town captive under his spell. Secrets belonging to Willa's grandmother Georgie and Paxton's grandmother Adele. The secret brings the younger women together, in an attempt to protect the older ones. Their unlikely alliance leads each woman to discover something special and magical about herself, love and the power of friendship.
I am a huge admirer of Sarah Addison Allen's work. The Peach Keeper: A Novel tells a wonderful story of love, loss and regrets. It reminds us that we all need to be who we are, not who we think we should be and that we all need to open some space up in our lives for something good to come in.