From the Publisher
The New York Times bestselling author of The Girl Who
Chased the Moon welcomes you to her newest locale: Walls of
Water, North Carolina, where the secrets are thicker than the fog
from the town's famous waterfalls, and the stuff of superstition is
just as real as you want it to be.
It's the dubious distinction of thirty-year-old Willa Jackson to
hail from a fine old Southern family of means that met with
financial ruin generations ago. The Blue Ridge Madam-built by
Willa's great-great-grandfather during Walls of Water's heyday, and
once the town's grandest home-has stood for years as a lonely
monument to misfortune and scandal. And Willa herself has long
strived to build a life beyond the brooding Jackson family shadow.
No easy task in a town shaped by years of tradition and the
well-marked boundaries of the haves and have-nots.
But Willa has lately learned that an old classmate-socialite
do-gooder Paxton Osgood-of the very prominent Osgood family, has
restored the Blue Ridge Madam to her former glory, with plans to
open a top-flight inn. Maybe, at last, the troubled past can be
laid to rest while something new and wonderful rises from its
ashes. But what rises instead is a skeleton, found buried beneath
the property's lone peach tree, and certain to drag up dire
consequences along with it.
For the bones-those of charismatic traveling salesman Tucker
Devlin, who worked his dark charms on Walls of Water seventy-five
years ago-are not all that lay hidden out of sight and mind.
Long-kept secrets surrounding the troubling remains have also come
to light, seemingly heralded by a spate of sudden strange
occurrences throughout the town.
Now, thrust together in an unlikely friendship, united by a
full-blooded mystery, Willa and Paxton must confront the dangerous
passions and tragic betrayals that once bound their families-and
uncover truths of the long-dead that have transcended time and
defied the grave to touch the hearts and souls of the living.
Resonant with insight into the deep and lasting power of
friendship, love, and tradition, The Peach Keeper is a
portrait of the unshakable bonds that-in good times and bad, from
one generation to the next-endure forever.
About the Author
Sarah Addison Allen is the author of The Girl
Who Chased the Moon, Garden Spells, and The Sugar
Queen. She was born and raised in Asheville, North Carolina.
1. What do you think the title The Peach Keeper
means? Who is the peach keeper in the story?
2. Superstitions played a big part in Willa''s grandmother''s
life, and in Willa''s life, by extension. What superstitions
did you grow up with? Why do you think superstitions
3. Several of the characters in The Peach Keeper
struggle with how people used to see them as opposed to who they
are now. Who were you in high school? Do you miss that
person? Or are you glad to leave that time in your life
4. Willa spent her formative years as The Joker, acting out and
sparking controversy that she wouldn''t become aware of until she
was an adult. What do you make of her past actions? How
does it connect to the way she acts in the novel? How does it
affect her relationships as an adult?
5. The characters in The Peach Keeper live in an
extraordinarily beautiful area, one surrounded by waterfalls.
Yet Willa once remarks, "When you see it every day, sometimes you
wonder what the big deal is." Do you think you get so used to
beauty that you stop seeing it? What are some natural wonders
in your area? Does Willa''s comment also refer to
6. The Blue Ridge Madam takes on a life of its own in the novel,
becoming much more than a building. What do you think it
represents for the town? For Willa and Paxton?
7. There''s a wisp of something supernatural following the
characters in the story, seemingly brought into their lives by the
discovery of buried bones under a peach tree. What are your
thoughts on the supernatural? Do you think disturbing a grave
upsets the spiritual side of things? Have you ever had a
8. One of the prevailing themes in The Peach Keeper
is friendship. Agatha and Georgie are elderly, and have been
friends all their lives. Paxton and Willa have a newly formed
friendship. The book posits that friendship is "a living
breathing thing, something that comes to life the moment it happens
and doesn''t just go away when it''s no longer acknowledged."
If there is no big break-up, just a gradual separation, do you
think the friendship still exists? Do you think once you are
a friend, are you always a friend? Have you ever reconnected
with an old friend and found that you still share a bond with
9. Sarah Addison Allen''s books usually have themes of
forgiveness and food. Have you read Sarah''s other
books? How is The Peach Keeper similar? How is
it a departure? Did you recognize the reference to the main
characters in her debut novel, Garden Spells?
10. Paxton, Willa, and even Willa''s father, deal with
parental expectation. Do you think that who we become in life
is due in part to what our parents wanted us to be, or who are
parents were? If you have children, how do they fit the
11. How do you take your coffee? Do you think that says
something about you? Do you believe, like Rachel, that how
someone takes their coffee says something about their
12. What do you think of Paxton and Sebastian''s relationship, and
how it evolves over the course of the novel? Have you ever
had a similar relationship in your life? How do you feel it fed
into the overall themes of The Peach Keeper?
13. Willa and Colin have a complicated relationship from the start
- what do you think is the strongest force pulling them
together? Do you think their relationship would have worked
had they met in another time and place?
14. In the end, Agatha keeps a secret she promised to keep
seventy-five years ago. In this information age, we are not a
private society. How hard is it to keep secrets? Would
you be capable of keeping a secret that long?
15. The theme of roots runs through the novel - from the peach
tree, to Colin''s work, to the characters struggling with their
place in Walls of Water. What about the town and its history
draws people to it and entices them to put down roots? On the
flip side, what about it causes others to deny their roots and move
away? Have you had a similar experience with your home
Published: October 17, 2012
Publisher: Random House Publishing Group