The Sugar Queen
Author: Sarah Addison Allen
Hardcover: 288 pages
Josey Cirrini is 27 years old, a tad overweight and has doomed herself to a lifetime of servitude to an ungrateful mother. She's rich and she longs to escape her North Carolina winter resort town of Bald Mountain, but feels helpless to effect any change. The coming of snow heralds a new chapter into Josey's unsuspecting life as one early winter morning she opens her closet door and finds someone living inside.
Specifically, Della Lee, a woman with a record, known for her fast life and who now shows a desperate desire to stay in Josey's closet to avoid something monumental. What it is, Della Lee isn't telling. Josey wants to dislodge her uninvited closet guest, but soon gets subtly blackmailed into letting Della Lee stay in the closet alongside Josey's hidden stash of junk food, specifically sweets, of all kinds, shapes, and colors.
At Della Lee's constant and no-nonsense urging, Josey soon begins to open up, her heart, her friendship and her courage, to others. To Adam, the mailman she's been in love with all these years, and who has a secret of his own. To Chole, a young woman obsessed with trying to learn the identity of the woman with whom her boyfriend cheated on her. To the people of her hometown, who never let Josie forget her past mistakes. And to her mother, who seems to dislike her no matter what.
Allen set the trend with her New York Times bestselling debut, Garden Spells, a modern-day tale of magic and wonder and food. So it is with her second book, 'THE SUGAR QUEEN' as well. As always there are multiple female leads and a kind of subtle magic - water boils when passion soars, books follow a person around, that kind of stuff, at once magical and ordinary and so believable.
And food again plays a major role in the storyline. In fact, each chapter is most ingeniously named after a sweet - Mellowcreme Pumpkins, Jawbreakers, etc. So much so, that one can almost feel Josey gobbling them down with exquisite relish. One of the things that's commendable about this novel is how through Josey the author shows overeating is just another way of stuffing down feelings and how to recognize it. Allen also shows how childhood impressions and events shape us all, sometimes leaving behind scars that cannot be healed, but if recognized for what they are, can be dealt with.
The complex interpersonal relationships, the friendships, the tenderness of a new romance and even the villain to an extent - all have a sensual magic of their own. Like I said, nothing like 'abracadabra', just intense attraction, even fatal in some cases. With some humor and lots of warmth, this novel envelops its readers in an aura of excitement, togetherness and a sense of wonder all its own.
In short, destined for the Keeper shelf, like the previous book 'Garden Spells'.
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