Also by this author: The Peach Keeper
Published by Bantam Dell on 2009
Genres: Fiction, General, Literary, Romance, Contemporary
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In this irresistible novel, Sarah Addison Allen, author of the New York Times bestselling debut, Garden Spells, tells the tale of a young woman whose family secrets—and secret passions—are about to change her life forever.
Josey Cirrini is sure of three things: winter is her favorite season, she’s a sorry excuse for a Southern belle, and sweets are best eaten in the privacy of her closet. For while Josey has settled into an uneventful life in her mother’s house, her one consolation is the stockpile of sugary treats and paperback romances she escapes to each night…. Until she finds her closet harboring Della Lee Baker, a local waitress who is one part nemesis—and two parts fairy godmother. With Della Lee’s tough love, Josey’s narrow existence quickly expands. She even bonds with Chloe Finley, a young woman who is hounded by books that inexplicably appear when she needs them—and who has a close connection to Josey’s longtime crush. Soon Josey is living in a world where the color red has startling powers, and passion can make eggs fry in their cartons. And that’s just for starters.
Brimming with warmth, wit, and a sprinkling of magic, here is a spellbinding tale of friendship, love—and the enchanting possibilities of every new day.
Over the course of my lifetime, I think I will end up saying ‘I can’t believe I didn’t read this sooner’ quite a bit. The Sugar Queen by Sarah Addison Allen is one of those reads. I remember picking it up and reading a few pages, because it was there, but I never continued it. Aside from the many positive reviews, my final push to read The Sugar Queen was that I was craving a winter book something fierce.
Josey Cirrini’s life is not perfect by any means although she is upper crust. She has no siblings, no lovers, and no close friends. Her mother resents her for not being beautiful or fitting the mold of Southern Belle. To cope, Josey has outfitted her closet with romance novels and sweets, it becomes a refuge of sorts for her. One day she retreats to her closet and finds a new occupant, Della Baker, who is hiding out from someone. Also, Della acts a bit as Josey’s fairy godmother, pushing Josey to go beyond her confines and break free from her boundaries. Josey’s journey of self-discovery and finding her inner courage ensues.
Intertwined is Chloe Finley’s story. Chloe has this gift. Books show up magically in her hour of need, providing unsolicited but helpful advice and companionship. So, the love of her life cheats on her and Chloe is completely conflicted on whether to take him back or not. The process of Chloe’s decision leads to her truly finding herself and forging her own identity outside of her lover. Can I straight up say I completely empathized with Chloe, as a bookworm myself.
Here’s a passage describing Chloe which I loved:
“He’d just picked up his beer when he looked across the bar to where Chloe had been seated. Her drink, probably a lemon drop because that was her favorite, was still there. And next to it was a book. He knew it was hers. When he first met her, she was never without a book. And shad more books in storage than he had ever seen one person own. It had always fascinated him that she’d consumed so many words, that her head was full of stories, told a thousand different ways. She’d always seemed a little embarrassed by her books, so he’d never pushed the subject.” -pg. 112
Sarah Addison Allen obviously loves words and her prose is the type that I found bouncing in my head for days, as the above example shows. Her southern books are like seasonal, magical treats – once I get my hands on one, I savor it until it’s done and then immediately want another, but I am content to wait until the next season for the next treat -or rather- book to come out.
Disclosure: Purchased copy.