The Sugar Queen by Sarah Addison Allen

2008. Bantam. Hardcover. 276 pages.

From: the public library

Recommendation from: Claire of The Captive Reader

In a nutshell:

In the ski resort town of Bald Slope, North Carolina, Josey Cirrini lives a lonely life. Her father had been a prominent businessman in the town and she now she lives at the bidding of her demanding mother.

One morning, Josey awakes to find a woman named Della Lee in her bedroom closet, a closet with a hidden room in the back. Josey barely knows Della Lee, but ends up harboring her for a while in her room.

Della makes sure that Josey makes the acquaintance of Chloe, a woman who runs a sandwich shop at the town’s courthouse. Chloe’s life is complicated by the way books magically appear around her, tailored for whatever is going on in her life at the moment.

Josey and Chloe become quick friends, and find that their lives are already a bit entwined. Josey has nursed a longtime crush on the postman, Adam, who happens to be best friends with Chloe’s ex-boyfriend.


I read two books by Sarah Addison Allen last year and found them to be good for when I want a quick, light and enjoyable read. I read The Sugar Queen after I had finished The Woman in White and the Hans Christian Andersen stories.

In my review of Sarah Addison Allen’s Garden Spells, I discussed the similarities between that book and the other I had read, The Girl Who Chased the Moon. The Sugar Queen deviates a little from the pattern, such as how the hometown is not the panacea for all the characters. For at least one character, she really would thrive somewhere else.

Also, in The Sugar Queen, the male characters are a little more flawed and unsure than their counterparts in the other books. Also, The Sugar Queen is set in the winter, where the other two were set in the summer (which made them great summer reads.)

My favorite part of the book was probably the relationship between Josie and Della Lee, mostly for how that plotline played out toward the end. I just like how Della Lee eventually became a very important person to Josie.

And a completely random observation: I’d take Chloe’s delicious-sounding sandwiches over Josie’s closet stash of sweets any day. But then, that may be the impression Allen wanted the reader to have.

I think there’s only one novel by Allen I haven’t read yet, and that is The Peach Keeper. I find her books to be the right blend for me when I want some escape reading – a little romantic, a little humorous, not too sweet, with likable characters.

Excerpts from others’ reviews:

Good Books and Good Wine – “Sarah Addison Allen obviously loves words and her prose is the type that I found bouncing in my head for days”

S.Krishna’s Books – “The main issue with the novel is its similarity to Allen’s previous work, Garden Spells. While Garden Spells was a delightful novel, it would have been nice to see something a little different in her follow-up.”

Toothy Books – “Although I didn’t fall in love with the characters right away, by the time the book ended, I wasn’t ready to say goodbye to them.”


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7 responses to “The Sugar Queen by Sarah Addison Allen

  1. I’ve only read the first of Allen’s books, but I enjoyed it enough that I’ve been meaning to seek out her others. I’m a little saddened to hear that they all follow a similar path.

  2. I love Addison Allen’s novels for a little light getaway. Garden Spells and The Girl Who Chased the Moon are my favorites thus far. I haven’t actually read this one yet, so I need to get on that. 🙂

  3. thanks for linking to me! i absolutely loved this book! and its the only book by sarah addison allen that i’ve read although i do have garden spells sitting on my bookshelf i just haven’t gotten around to reading it yet.

  4. Stephanie – while I wouldn’t say that all of the plot points are completely predictable, the themes are quite similar. The way I look at it is I know what I’m going to get with Addison Allen and sometimes that’s exactly what I want.

    Andi – This one would probably be good for an autumn/winter read, given the seasonal setting of the story.

    toothy – Garden Spells I think may be my favorite of the three I’ve read. So you should get on that. 🙂

  5. This is the only Addison Allen book I haven’t read, but it’s waiting on my shelf. I absolutely love her whimsical writing. She knows how to blend magic into her stories in a way that feels almost realistic.

  6. I adore SAA’s books. Puts me in a good mood when I thnk about her stories.

  7. Jenna – Until she writes a new book, it kind of makes sense to keep one in reserve. 🙂

    Care – Same here.

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