Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Book Review: The Sugar Queen by Sarah Addison Allen

The Sugar Queen by Sarah Addison Allen is the author's second novel, published on the heels of her acclaimed "Garden Spells" (which I listened to and reviewed a few weeks ago).

The Audible Publishers' Summary:
In this irresistible follow-up to her New York Times best selling 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.

Sarah Addison Allen's The Sugar Queen is nearly a perfect summertime novel - interesting without commitment and light enough to read on the plane, at the beach or on a reasonably short commute to work. While I didn't find The Sugar Queen as capturing as her other novels The Peach Keeper and Garden Spells, The Sugar Queen is every bit as sweet. It was a solid, pleasant and enjoyable listen - with a couple of surprises at the end of the novel.

Karen White's narration was sweet and clear - I did find her drawl to be a bit long for my tastes at times though which I solved by listening to the novel at 1.5x - a relatively new audible feature (previous options were limited to 1/2x, 1x, 2x and 3x). There is an abridged version of the novel, which I don't recommend, there isn't a lot of wasted writing in The Sugar Queen, my guess is that the abridged cuts out some interesting content.

The Sugar Queen was written by Sarah Addison Allen, narrated by Karen White and published by Books on Tape. The Sugar Queen was released on 6/30/2008 and has a runtime of 8 hours 7 minutes.

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