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The day Paxton Osgood took the box of heavy-stock, foil-lined envelopes to the post office, the ones she'd had a professional calligrapher address, it began to rain so hard the air turned as white as bleached cotton. By nightfall, rivers had crested at flood stage and, for the first time since 1936, the mail couldn't be delivered. When things began to dry out, when basements were pumped free of water and branches were cleared from yards and streets, the invitations were finally delivered, but to all the wrong houses. Neighbors laughed over fences, handing the misdelivered pieces of mail to their rightful owners with comments about the crazy weather and their careless postman. The next day, an unusual number of people showed up at the doctor's office with infected paper cuts, because the envelopes had sealed, cementlike, from the moisture. Later, the single-card invitations themselves seemed to hide and pop back up at random. Mrs. Jameson's invitation disappeared for two days, then reappeared in a bird's nest outside. Harper Rowley's invitation was found in the church bell tower, Mr. Kingsley's in his elderly mother's garden shed.
If anyone had been paying attention to the signs, they would have realized that air turns white when things are about to change, that paper cuts mean there's more to what's written on the page than meets the eye, and that birds are always out to protect you from things you don't see.
But no one was paying attention. Least of all Willa Jackson.
The envelope sat untouched on the back counter of Willa's store for over a week. She picked it up curiously when it had been delivered with the other mail, but then she'd dropped it like it had burned her as soon as she'd recognized what it was. Even now, when she walked by it, she would throw a suspicious glance its way.
"Open it already," Rachel finally said with exasperation that morning. Willa turned to Rachel Edney, who was standing behind the coffee bar across the store. She had short dark hair and, in her capris and sport tank, looked like she was ready to go climb a large rock. No matter how many times Willa told her she didn't actually have to dress in the clothes the store sold-Willa herself rarely deviated from jeans and boots-Rachel was convinced she had to represent.
"I'm not going. No need to open it," Willa said, deciding to take on the mundane task of folding the new stock of organic T-shirts, hoping it would help her ignore the strange feeling that came over her every time she thought of that invitation, like a balloon of expectation expanding in the center of her body.
Excerpted from The Peach Keeper by Sarah Addison Allen. Copyright © 2011 by Sarah Addison Allen. Excerpted by permission of Bantam, a division of Random House, Inc. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
In Sarah Addison Allen’s riveting novel, The Peach Keeper, an abandoned mansion known affectionately as “the Madam” still presides over a small North Carolina logging town with majesty and pride. Willa Jackson’s grandmother, whose family bitterly lost the grand house to the wealthier Osgoods many years back, has told her it is haunted. And Willa, who leads a quiet life running a café in town, is inclined to agree. Then Colin Osgood changes everything when he digs up the Madam’s old peach tree and finds buried beneath it a suitcase, a battered fedora…and a skull. A murder investigation is soon underway, and the truth could threaten the growing relationship between Willa and Colin and destroy the reputations of all those they hold dear.…
Softcover Book : 272 pages
Publisher: Bantam Books, Inc./Div. Random House ( March 22, 2011 )
Item #: 13-370078
Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 8.25 x 0.58inches
Product Weight: 9.0 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
Good beach read, predictable but still fun.
I really enjoyed this book. While a quick read it was good for a diversion read. Had not read this author before.
Reviewer: Lauri P
The "magical realism" alleged here is way too obvious and heavy-handed; ditto the two "romances".
Reviewer: Maria T
I enjoyed The Peach Keeper, it was a fun read and not to be taken too seriously. I found the author to be a cheap version of Alice Hoffman, and that is not a bad thing. If you have read any of her previous works, you will enjoy this as well.
I found this read so mundane and vapid that I could not read beyond page 20. The writing is uninspired and the character development lacking. If that's what you look for in a book, something that offers no intellectual challenge and an easy, however flawed read, "The Peach Keeper," is for you.