Last year, I enjoyed reading Garden Spells by Sarah Addison Allen. I found that it was fun, fluffy, and light, I couldn't not enjoy it. After closing my copy, I knew I would be reading more Sarah Addison Allen.
The Sugar Queen is, in many ways, similar to Garden Spells – the magical realism, the love story/romance angle, the familiar characters to whom it’s so easy to relate. But The Sugar Queen is a delightful and charming story on its own.
The only comfort in twenty-seven-year-old Josey Cirrini’s monotonous life are the stash of sweets and pile of paperback romances that she keeps hidden in her room closet. Her life is uneventful, having settled in her mother’s house to take care of her and contenting herself in small glimpses of her longtime crush Adam, who delivers the mail every day, until one day she finds that motor mouth, bizarre Della Lee Baker, a local waitress, has taken up residence in her closet. Through Della Lee, she meets Chloe Finley, who is mysteriously and literally hounded by books wherever she goes, and Julian, who is nothing but bad news. From the moment Josey finds Della Lee parked in her closet, her life is whirled into a spiral of events and she discovers that there is so much going on in the world that she’s completely missing out on – including the chance to love.
Despite her passive nature – her quiet acquiescence to her mother’s every command and seeming helplessness with respect to, well, nearly everything – I really liked Josey. Ordinarily, I am wont to be annoyed at characters like her because I hate pushovers, and Josey was a big, over-age one. She ought to know better, and she had a good head on her shoulders, which she proves later on in the story. But for the first part, she practically allowed herself hostage to the whims and caprices of everyone around her. Still, there was something about Josey that kept me from hating her – she was charming and honest and, for her age, very naïve. Perhaps these were the very same things that drew the other characters to her: Adam the mailman/love interest, most of all.
I liked how the stories of the other characters were developed around Josey. Della Lee had her own story, Chloe had her own, even Josey’s mother had her own story, all of which were deftly interwoven into Josey’s. Speaking of Chloe, it was fun reading how books – mostly self-help or advice – would literally turn up whenever and wherever she was – in the bathroom, in her shop, inside her car, absolutely anywhere – depending on her current state of mind. I already knew from reading Garden Spells that Sarah Addison Allen’s books have their “identity” in magical realism, and this is one of the aspects that I enjoyed more.
Over all, I really liked The Sugar Queen. There was a part in the end that completely took me by surprise (hindsight, though, it could have easily been predictable) and satisfactorily answered my initial confusion about a few details. I liked how the novel ended too, which was fair enough – everyone happy and good and in their proper places in their lives. The book can’t be all good and fluff if it didn’t make me feel that way now, can it?
More Sarah Addison Allen in the future!
Book Details: My own, trade paperback, bought secondhand from a Multiply online seller