Surprisingly, what I loved about this book wasn’t what I loved most about Addison Allen’s other books. When I read Garden Spells and The Sugar Queen, it was the everyday magic that enchanted me most. I loved how the characters took the mysterious and magical and made it part of their being, normal. This magic is also present in The Peach Keeper and it’s beautiful, like here:
If anyone had been paying attention to the signs, they would have realized that air turns white when things are about to change, that paper cuts mean there’s more to what’s written on the page than meets the eye, and that birds are always out to protect you from things you don’t see.
But what I loved most about this book was the focus on female bonding. The power of friendship between women, the strength it gives to all involved, that sense of all belonging to the same club. It reminded me of The Divine Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood by Rebecca Wells, a book I have loved for a long time. I loved that the main characters learned what true friendship meant and that they learned it from their grandmothers. And that friendship underpinned the town’s history. And that, in the end, it was friendship that was most important. One of the characters describes female relationships like this:
Because we’re connected, as women. It’s like a spiderweb. If one part of that web vibrates, if there’s trouble, we all know it. But most of the time we’re just too scared or selfish or insecure to help. But if we don’t help each other, who will?
This really struck a chord with me and I can see in my life that it is true. I am always willing to help a woman going through something I can understand, something typically female, even if I don’t know her very well. I will always lend a hand if support is needed, when it comes to difficult subjects like rape or abuse. I will be as strong as I can be for women in trouble.
I also really enjoyed the casually thrown around comments about life, the observations of how things work. They made my heart tingle with inspiration and sudden understanding of some deep truth, honest. Like this one:
Every life needs a little space. It leaves room for good things to enter it.
I believe in this – when you de-clutter, you are making room for new things in your life. When you leave something behind, it makes space for the new.
I think this next one is true too – if you write things down they are more likely to happen, because you are putting more of your energy into them. What a great reason to keep making lists:
Most of her lists were about control, about breaking down her life into manageable pieces. But some of the lists were simply wishes. There was nothing more satisfying than putting what you wanted most onto paper. It gave substance to something that was before as thin as air. It made it one step closer to being real.
Or this one- such simple advice, yet it takes so much courage to accept and love yourself just the way you are:
We are who we are. It’s surprising how little say we have in it. Once you accept that, the rest is easy.
Or this one:
Happiness is a risk. If you’re not a little scared, you’re not doing it right.
Reading Sarah Addison Allen’s books makes me feel warm inside, her tone is so warm and so familiar. Reading The Peach Keeper was like curling up on the couch with a blanket and a cup of tea (I think I’ve said the same thing about Eva Ibbotson, and it’s true). Passages like these are wonderfully cosy, not to mention an inspiring use of language:
Being met by the sharp scent of chocolate mingling with the moist scent of brewing coffee had a dark, secretive feel to it, like Willa had finally found the perfect place to hide.
Occasionally, he would invite one of them on a date, and it would leave the recipient of his attention unable to leave footprints for days, as if her feet weren’t quite touching the ground.
She was tall like her brother, but had wide curves, as if one of her angular French ancestors had scandalized everyone by marrying a pretty stout milkmaid, and several generations later, Paxton was the result.
If you enjoy a bit of non-Harry-Potter-like magic, if you like authors like Joanne Harris and Alice Hoffman, I’m pretty sure you’ll like this book and this author. If you’ve read Addison Allen already, which book is your favorite?