Monday, August 1, 2011

Review of The Sugar Queen by Sarah Addison Allen

The Sugar Queen
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.

Anyone who is looking for a story with a hint of romance and decadent descriptions of food ought to pick up one of Sarah Addison Allen’s novels. After falling in love with Garden Spells last summer, I had fairly high expectations for The Sugar Queen. While Allen’s imagery and characters were incredibly charming, the plot didn’t leave me quite as entranced.

Reading Allen’s books is always such a sensory experience. As I flipped the pages I could smell the peppermint in the Cirrini house and taste the sweets Josey hid in her closet. Many of the descriptions are reminiscent of Christmas, making this the perfect book to read on a snowy winter night.

If you asked me to name some of the overarching themes in The Sugar Queen, I’d say that starting over is definitely one of them. Josey, Chloe, and Della Lee are all characters who either need to get away from their past or have just had a major change in their lives. While I didn’t mind reading about any of them, Josey was the only one with whom I shared a connection. I couldn’t particularly relate to Chloe’s problems, and I didn’t care for the conclusion of Della Lee’s story.

The Sugar Queen is a sweet and lovely read, but for me, not a memorable one. However, if you’re looking for a wintery read packed with small town drama, I’d say this is precisely the book for you.


  1. I've heard many good things about this author.

  2. I definitely like Garden Spells more, but I'd say that this is my second favorite. I didn't see the twist with Della Lee coming - I'm usually clueless about anticipating that sort of thing. And while it was weird and maybe a little darker than the theme in Garden Spells, I really enjoyed it.

    I still definitely recommend S.A.A.'s other books. I just gobble up everything she writes.

  3. Garden Spells is soon for me on the list. I do own The Sugar Queen, but I think The Girl Who Chased The Moon may come before it.

  4. My friend gifted me this book and I still have to read. I guess I have to wait till winter arrives.



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