Sarah Addison Allen’s fourth novel, The Peach Keeper, is her least magic-filled work to date. Featuring protagonists without unusual abilities — unless you count genetic prank playing and the side effect of helping the man who loves you sleep well as “abilities” — this novel has a ghost, but that’s it. The ghost has a very interesting role in the novel. It seems that the ghost is a plot device that ultimately serves as the catalyst for the two protagonists — Willa Jackson and Paxton Osgood — to cement their friendship with each other.
All this is not to say that the novel is any less absorbing than her previous novels. Willa and Paxton are complicated, interesting characters who don’t fall into the typical trap that characters in chick-lit tend to fall into: the annoying chain of miscommunications and non-listening that leads to inevitable (and predictable) conflicts. Instead, the characters surprised me a few times and I found the novel a delightful read.
Of course, there’s another reason I like the novel: the characters are turning 30. I’m turning 30. They’re going through a variety of crises that my friends and I have dealt with in various ways in the past couple of years — career, love, family, and life choice crises. I loved The Girl Who Chased the Moon with all its magic and its amazing characters (a giant, a boy whose skin glows in the dark, etc.), but the fact is that that novel was about teenagers and this one is about people my own age. There’s something to that.
As usual, Allen’s newest novel was a couldn’t-put-it-down read. I made the classic mistake of picking it up at about 8pm, and of course I wound up finishing it around 3 in the morning because it was that good — it was that absorbing. If you enjoy a bit of whimsy and have a few hours, you should give this one a read.