After a week filled with good reading, I was able to narrow down my favorite selections to two entirely different novels. After much thought, I decided to choose Sarah Addison Allen’s new release, The Peach Keeper.
Ms. Allen writes in a comparatively new genre called “magical realism.” Magical realism is a realistic fictional story that includes elements of the supernatural or bits of magic. These added touches of fantasy can help the reader to grasp a deeper meaning within the actual story. For example, a story in which a character is ‘magically’ able to distinguish truth from a lie, will lead the reader into greater thought about deception in ‘real’ life.
There are some literary snobs (say it with your best hoity-toity voice) who narrowly restrict magical realism to books with from a latin influence, such as Like Water for Chocolate or A Hundred Years of Solitude. Fortunately, book snobs are NOT allowed on this blog, so we will go ahead and ignore this.
The Peach Keeper is set in small town, North Carolina, like Sarah Addison Allen’s other novels. And like her other books, The Peach Keeper is mostly a story about learning to accept and love yourself. Which doesn’t sound all that great and wonderful, but trust me when I say it is. Ms. Allen’s talent lies in her ability to make us enter a completely fictional place and feel at home in it. The characters she creates are well rounded people that we recognize in our own life. Because of these two strengths, Ms. Allen enables her readers to become a part of the story and as the characters develop and grow, so do we.
Another theme of The Peach Keeper is friendship, how it grows, how it fails, how it triumphs. In past novels from this author, the main characters have gained their self-awareness through their magical abilities, yet in The Peach Keeper, it they do it through their friendships. Friendship is what protects and shelters these women, thus reminding us, as readers, how magical true friends really are.
I’m not going to give you a plot summary (you can find that somewhere else.) I’m also not going to mislead you into thinking that The Peach Keeper is some kind of timeless classic that will enter the halls of eternal literary fame. It’s not and it won’t. What it is however, is a solid, capable book that you can easily read and enjoy. Which makes it an “Ami classic.”