Book review: 'The Peach Keeper'

With a taste of southern magic, Sarah Addison Allen brings her readers a wonderful and engaging story. 'The Peach Keeper' is a must read.

WASHINGTON, October 16, 2011 — The Peach Keeper, the latest novel by New York Times bestseller Sarah Addison Allen, may well be called “The Promise Keeper.” Three treats in one, it’s a mystery, a love story, and a parable on the nature of friendship.

In all her fictional work, Allen brings the full flavor of her southern upbringing to bear on her fiction. It’s a captivating blend of fairy tale magic, heartwarming romance, and small-town sensibility. 

'Peach Keeper' cover art.

‘Peach Keeper’ cover art.

In The Peach Keeper, we soon meet the novel’s two most prominent characters. Once her high school’s silent class joker, Willa is currently settled into her placid life as a shopkeeper in Walls of Water, the bucolic North Carolina mountain town where she grew up.

Over two generations, her once prominent family has gradually declined into a contemporary, humdrum existence of housekeeping and teaching, largely thanks to the Great Depression. But there’s more to the backstory than she knows.

Paxton, once the high school’s goody-two-shoes popular girl and prom queen, is a different story. In her early 30s, like Willa, she’s still in the social whirl, a prominent part of her circle of financially well-endowed women. However, she hasn’t yet discovered her adult self, and still lives in the pool house of her parents’ home while scurrying about, carrying on her altruistic pursuits.

When Paxton sets out to renovate “Blue Ridge Madam,” a historic house that, before their fall from grace, was the domain of Willa’s family, things begin to change. She draws a reluctant Willa back into the house, wishing to honor both her own and Willa’s grandmothers’ friendship during the grand opening.

Surprisingly, neither woman actually has any knowledge or understanding of the relationship between their grandmothers or the legacy that has been left to them. 

Then, human remains are discovered on “Madam’s” grounds. Mix this mystery with dark family secrets, and a chance for romance, and you soon have quite a story on your hands. Pushed to fully realize their true, inner selves while taking emotional risks will lead Willa and Paxton back to each other while setting both women on the path toward discovering true love at last.

With a knowing touch of southern magic, Allen has created for her avid readers yet another wonderful and engaging story. The Peach Keeper is a must read.

Novelist Sarah Addison Allen.

Novelist Sarah Addison Allen. (Publicity photo.)

The Peach Keeper, by Sarah Addison Allen. New York: Bantam, 2011. 288 pp. (ISBN: 9780553807226.)


Born and raised in Asheville, North Carolina, in the heart of the Blue Ridge Mountains, Sarah Addison Allen grew up with a love of books and an appreciation of good food.  Find her at:


Read more book reviews in The Written Word at The Communities at the Washington Times. Cecie O’Bryon England is the editor of Arts and Literature at Donne Tempo Magazine.

This article is the copyrighted property of the writer and Communities @ Written permission must be obtained before reprint in online or print media. REPRINTING TWTC CONTENT WITHOUT PERMISSION AND/OR PAYMENT IS THEFT AND PUNISHABLE BY LAW.

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Cecie O'Bryon England

Cecie O'Bryon England is a writer, reader, and artist who lives with her husband, the musician, John Henry England, and their two children, in Chevy Chase, Maryland.

Contact Cecie O'Bryon England


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