Wednesday, August 22, 2012

The Sugar Queen

I bought Garden Spells by Sarah Addison Allen several months ago, to give as a gift for a friend. I hadn't read anything by her, but I could tell by the book's description my friend would enjoy it.

Imagine my surprise when one day I was at my friend's house and saw Garden Spells sitting on her shelf! I decided then and there to keep the book myself and read it - but me being me, I never got around to it. To this day, it is still sitting on my own shelf, waiting for me to pick it up.

I guess Sarah Addison Allen really wanted me to read one of her books, because a friend of mine lent me The Sugar Queen to read. She said, "Peej, you will absolutely LOVE this book. Read it!"

I'm funny about books that are lent to me - I feel a huge obligation to read them as soon as possible, and so as soon as I got home, I settled in and opened up the book.

I had trouble putting it down.

The book reeled me in with the first paragraph, and enchanted me all the way through to the end. Sarah Addison Allen's writing style is magical - she has a unique way of describing people and places and feelings. No
clich├ęd terms like "heaving bosoms" - everything is fresh and wonderful.

If you've read any of my book reviews, you know that I don't like to give away too much of the plot or rehash the story. I know as a reader I like to be surprised, and so I am assuming that you, too, like to be surprised.

I will say that the story centers around a woman who has been taking care of her mom for years, without a life of her own. Then, almost inexplicably, a woman turns up in her closet and spurs her into creating a life of her own.

There is a bit of mystery: who is this woman? Why won't she leave the closet? How does she seem to know exactly what Josey (the main character) needs?

I hate to admit it, but I figured out the mystery early on. Still, that did not stop me from being roped into the story and hanging on every word until the end.

The end of the book is satisfying and yet, somewhat realistic in that not every single thing is tied up into a beautiful bow. There is one major relationship in the book that never really gets resolved - and after coming to know the characters, it fits that their storyline isn't wrapped up nicely. If it was, it wouldn't ring of any realism.

I love books about relationships - and I don't necessarily mean romantic relationships. And while this one has that - four romantic relationship stories in fact - it's not really about that. It's about women's connections, our hopes, dreams, getting stuck in a rut, making wrong choices and the repercussions of those choices.

Nitpicks: This book has several versions of cover art, and the one I read is pictured above. Note: the woman on the cover is thin. The main character in the book is not. One of my personal pet peeves is when cover art does not portray the character as described in the book.

Other than that, I have no real gripes about the book or the story. In fact, I think Garden Spells is about to become my next read... and let me tell you, I can't hardly wait to pick it up and find out what's in store for me there!