Monday, June 16, 2008

Julie's Review: The Sugar Queen

Summary: In this irresistible follow-up to her New York Times bestselling debut, Garden Spells, author Sarah Addison Allen tells the tale of a young woman whose family secrets—and secret passions—are about to change her life forever. Twenty-seven-year-old Josey Cirrini is sure of three things: winter in her North Carolina hometown is her favorite season, she’s a sorry excuse for a Southern belle, and sweets are best eaten in the privacy of her hidden 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 it harboring none other than local waitress Della Lee Baker, a tough-talking, tenderhearted woman who is one part nemesis—and two parts fairy godmother. Fleeing a life of bad luck and big mistakes, Della Lee has decided Josey’s clandestine closet is the safest place to crash. In return she’s going to change Josey’s life—because, clearly, it is not the closet of a happy woman. With Della Lee’s tough love, Josey is soon forgoing pecan rolls and caramels, tapping into her startlingly keen feminine instincts, and finding her narrow existence quickly expanding. Before long, Josey bonds with Chloe Finley, a young woman who makes the best sandwiches in town, is hounded by books that inexplicably appear whenever she needs them, and—most amazing of all—has a close connection to Josey’s longtime crush. As little by little Josey dares to step outside herself, she discovers a world where the color red has astonishing power, passion can make eggs fry in their cartons, and romance can blossom at any time—even for her. It seems that Della Lee’s work is done, and it’s time for her to move on. But the truth about where she’s going, why she showed up in the first place—and what Chloe has to do with it all—is about to add one more unexpected chapter to Josey’s fast-changing life.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.

Review: For me, it's rare that a sophomore book lives up the the first book, but The Sugar Queen is the exception. This book is so so very good. It is the kind of book that you want to curl up with and finish in a day. Ms. Allen has an enchanting way of developing her characters and writing her stories. Josey is endearing; Della Lee is magical; Chloe is adorable; Adam is delicious;Jake is enchanting; Julian is trouble and Margaret is miserable. Those are my one word descriptions of all the major characters in this wonderful book. Like Garden Spells (Bantam Discovery), this book is set in the south (North Carolina) and has some wonderful themes throughout. How does your past affect your present? Can we be forgiven for past wrongs? How long do we wait to be forgiven?

There are a couple of great twists in this books that I didn't see coming and was thankful for that. There were some definite laugh out loud moments and moments that made me put a huge grin on my face. I didn't like Margaret throughout the beginning of the book and was hoping for a change of my mind at the end, but that didn't come. She is one bitter and angry woman and who makes her daughter's life miserable. Josey is a prisoner in her own home and town. She'll never live up to her mother's expectations and longs for her own life.

There is a major plot point that isn't resolved at the end of the book and I very much hope that in a few years Ms. Allen revisits this cast of characters. I'd like to see where their adventures have taken them.

If you love Southern Fiction and well written books you'll love The Sugar Queen. I received this book from's Early Reviewers group but I would have bought it anyway.

Final Take: 4.75/5


Darlene said...

Great review! I just ordered this one and am patiently awaiting it's arrival. I read Garden Spells and absolutely loved it! I can tell I'm going to love this one just as much.

LisaMM said...

Great review! I also received this one through Library Thing's er program and loved it. I reviewed it here:

Mary (Bookfan) said...

Ooh, I was forcing myself to wait for this but now, I'm not sure I can. I'll be flying next week so maybe I'll pick it up for the trip.