Tuesday, 18 May 2010

The Sugar Queen by Sarah Addison Allen

GENRE: Southern fiction/magical realism

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 in her closet she escapes to each night…. Until she finds the closet harbouring none other than local waitress Della Lee Baker, a tough-talking, tender-hearted woman who is one part nemesis—and two parts fairy godmother…

After falling in love with Sarah Addison Allen’s debut novel Garden Spells, I immediately bought The Sugar Queen as well. Again, I was not disappointed. I was absolutely thrilled with the novel! It is another Southern romance with a touch of magic that makes every-day life just a little more special.

I love all the characters in the novel. As with Garden Spells, this novel also features a bunch of interesting individuals who all have their special life stories. This already makes the novel very colourful. The story is not extraordinary, but it has special events, revelations, people, a pinch of magic and oh boy, you will want to eat during and after you have finished reading the novel. It has sweets and yummy sandwiches with such delicious descriptions that I really wanted to make exactly the same sandwiches for myself.

Josey’s character is so well-handled. Normally, I wouldn’t approve of such a character, but the author handles her so well, you absolutely have to sympathize with this girl. She is stuck in her mother’s house, with her sick mother, because she feels she’s a rotten child (and her momma definitely doesn’t help her think otherwise) and because after you’ve been in the same position for years, you simply get stuck. Her only comfort lies in sweets and romance novels hidden in her closet. It seems that her closet is her refuge and also a cruel reminder of how unhappy she is. Her mother Margaret was considered a Southern belle, but Josey is her opposite, as she is a timid grey mouse with no friends, no life, and no dreams, which is the worst.

Josey’s predictable life turns upside down when one day, she finds Della, the bad-girl waitress, camping in her closet. That’s when the fun begins. Subtly, but efficiently, Della Lee sends Josey on a journey of self-discovery. Della Lee helps her meet a new friend, find some much-needed confidence and Josey even meets a man. Well, really meets the man she’s known for a while: their mailman, Adam, who also needs to come out of his shell and who has his own secret. Josey’s transformation is magical to follow. She’s like a little burst growing into full bloom and turning into a beautiful rose. This is how I can describe her change. Josey finally becomes strong enough to confront those who have been hindering her in her life, and to meet with those she has been needing and wanting for so long. Della Lee really is a great character, too; she’s like Josey’s personal fairy-godmother. She also serves the final surprise, relating as to what actually happened to her, and why she’s hiding in Josey’s closet in the first place. That discovery pretty much blew me away; I personally hadn’t seen it coming.

Also, in my opinion, this novel features one of the most beautiful and magical first kisses ever. That moment is so powerful and incredible, and really filled with genuine emotions. It’s not corny; it’s simply wonderful.

Another great character is Chloe, the woman who becomes Josey’s friend. Really, Addison writes amazing female characters. Chloe has her own problems; her love life is on shaky ground and she needs to work that out. But she also has a great ability that might be envied by many book lovers out there: books come to hear. They just appear when she needs them. I would love to have such an ability, or rather gift! She also makes the best sandwiches in town and, when Chloe feels passion, water boils.

The novel is full of warmth, a bit of magic, friendship, romance and secrets. It leaves you with hope and the thought that every day can be magical if you make it so. I definitely recommend this novel to you, especially if you liked Addison’s debut novel Garden Spells, or if you are a fan of Cecelia Ahern.



Laura @ A Jane of All Reads said...

Lol, I guess that's a yes! I'm so glad you loved it. I've never heard of Cecelia Ahern. Looking her up now.

Irena @ This Miss Loves to Read said...

Thanks for reading the review! And yes, I loved it. I definitely recommend Cecelia Ahern!

Julie P said...

I saw this on another blog and have already added it to my TBR list. Thanks for sharing!

Irena @ This Miss Loves to Read said...

You're welcome! I hope you like it once your start reading it.