Name of Book: The Peach Keeper
By: Sarah Addison Allen
Copyright Date: 2011
Reason for Reading: This is a re-read for the SAA Reading Challenge.
Source: my Kindle
Paxton Osgood and Willa Jackson’s families go way back in Walls of Water, North Carolina. The Jackson family owned the Blue Ridge Madam and their logging industry supported the town. That is, until the government purchased the forest and made it a national park. The logging industry crashed and Willa’s family lost all their money.
Paxton Osgood’s family survived the crash. Now Paxton is planning a gala to celebrate the seventy-fifth anniversary of the Women Society’s Club that her and Willa’s grandmother created. Paxton’s family has purchased the Blue Ridge Madam. It has become an eyesore over the years. Now it’s being renovated to be completed in time for the big gala.
The renovation unearths long buried secrets, secrets that their grandmothers have been keeping all these years. It is up to Paxton and Willa to figure out the mystery of what really happened all those years ago up on Jackson Hill.
This was a re-read for me. I read this the first time last year, but forgot to review it. It was the last book of Allen’s book for me to read. Everything I’ve come to expect from her stories was present in The Peach Keeper. I loved it the first time around; however, I enjoyed it even more the second time.
Allen’s lyrical prose pulls me right in. I want to drink in the words and savor them. I want to re-read passages and sink into them. Also, her descriptions of food and the secrets of coffee make me hunger for something sweet and satisfying.
Allen has a way of crafting characters that are fully dimensional and layered. I really enjoyed the way that the characters are aware of the labels people have given them, and yet they defy such one dimensional description. I cared deeply for each character. I reveled in their growth. I enjoyed witnessing the way the friendship between Willa and Paxton blossomed and caught them unaware. Then there’s Walls of Water itself. Allen has a way of creating atmospheric settings that come alive on the page and become a character of their own. Her descriptions left strong visuals in my imagination: I could see the heavy fog covering the streets, feel it on my skin. I could see the trails that Willa hiked, the luscious waterfalls that give the town its name. I could see the Blue Ridge Madam in all her glory. I could even smell Rachel’s treats.
A story that has it all: lyrical prose, a touch of magic, love, friendship, and a mystery to be solved.
Rachel bakes fantastic coffee-laced chocolate goodies for the coffee bar in Willa’s shop. There are plenty of treats that are mentioned by name in the story. And part of the fun of this reading challenge is creating our own concoction inspired by Allen’s tales. The cappuccino donuts sounded tempting, but I didn’t feel like adapting a recipe, so I turned to my trusty cache of Isa dessert books. My options included cappuccino creme cupcakes or mocha mama cookies or cafe mocha cheesecake.
I opted for the cheesecake. It’s a graham cracker crust with coffee and chocolate swirled batter. Okay, the batter is supposed to be swirled but I think my chocolate blobs were too big so it’s more of a layered batter. It is tasty with the right amount of crunch from the crust balancing the richness of the cake.
I had so much fun making it. I am looking forward to re-reading the rest of Allen’s books and baking along with the characters. I have my eye on some recipes too: lavender shortbread, rose petal scones, lemon cherry cupcakes.