Monday, April 9, 2012

Book Club: The Peach Keeper

Warning:  This is a book club discussion and may contain spoilers.
I recently read The Peach Keeper by Sarah Addison Allen for an online book club started by Stephanie at Luxe Boulevard.  I was intrigued from the beginning and once I got a few pages in, I had a hard time putting it down.  The story is set in the modern-day fictional town of Walls of Water, North Carolina.  The 75th Anniversary Gala of the Women's Society Club at the newly restored Blue Ridge Madam pulls Willa Jackson and Paxton Osgood together in ways neither anticipates.  Efforts to honor their grandmothers (the only remaining original members of the club) unearth a 75-year-old mystery and truths to Willa's family's past.
Do you think Tucker Devlin had supernatural powers of persuasion? 
I don't think he had supernatural powers.  He was a very likable fellow and knew how to read people and influence their thinking.  His charisma hooked the ladies, which then expanded his sphere of influence to the men of the community.

What do you think of the superstitions that proceeded Tucker Devlin? The town spent years buying into them, including Willa's grandmother. Do you think The Blue Ridge Madam was haunted?
Superstitions are funny things.  However, I believe there is a logical explanation behind all superstitions.  I don't think the Madam was haunted.  Over the years as the stories were told and retold and grew in scope, it is natural that the truth was stretched.  While the story hinted that the Madam was haunted and supposedly had many people to back up these claims, they weren't explored adequately to provide proof, in my mind.

Tucker Devlin went on and on about a peach orchard, thus ending up buried beneath one. Of course this raised questions immediately for Colin as a landscaper, knowing the climate there was too warm for it to grow, but never to anyone else. Can you see why no one was alarmed by Tucker's insistence back in 1936? Why do you think he was buried under one?
I think Tucker Devlin was probably a con-man.  He was going around trying to sell people on the idea of a peach orchard, knowing full well that the trees wouldn't produce fruit (If he is was an expert on peaches as he claimed to be.).  I got the impression that if the Jackson family would have gone ahead with the orchard, he would have helped long enough to get the trees established and then set out to find his next unwitting victim long before the trees were mature enough to realize that they wouldn't bear fruit.  In 1936, who would have been knowledgeable enough to call his bluff?
I'm really not sure how he came to be buried under a peach tree.  I didn't get the idea that Agatha and Georgie planted it.  I assumed more that maybe he had a peach pit in his pocket that grew.  Georgie's family left the property soon after he was buried, and I doubt she or Agatha went back to visit.  The tree probably grew on its own and was established before anyone really paid attention to it, so it stayed.  Again, without anyone to know what kind of tree it was, people probably thought it was placed there intentionally and left it alone.

Many of the relationships are based on old friendships. Do you see how these relationships have evolved since high school?
I enjoyed seeing Willa and Paxton's relationship evolve.  As the story began, they were in much the same positions as they were in high school.  They lived in the same town, but had vastly different experiences based on the accessibility of money in their lives.  Willa had been forced to grow up and leave her Joker ways behind.  But, I think she is happy with her life even if she never saw herself living in Walls of Water.  Paxton never really had to grow up, so we see her go through the thought processes as she finally decides to cut the apron strings and become her own person.  Colin has a similar process.  He has been out in the world, but never really committing to any one thing for too long.  I think running into Willa and seeing how miserable Paxton has been all these years helped him to see the unhappiness within himself.  Sebastian seemed the most secure within himself.  He had already been through the soul-searching, self-discovery that the others experience to some degree or another through the story, so he is there waiting for them to catch up.

What do you think of how the relationships evolved? Willa's and Collin's is difficult from the get go, and Sebastian and Paxton's is just downright confusing (for poor Paxton). What do you think of how they end up tying in romantically?
The relationships were pretty obvious.  In a way, they ended up closing the circle of friendship that originally began the Women's Society Club. Paxton, at least, realized which relationships were really important and could see how far the club had veered away from its intended purpose.

Rachel believes that what a person orders in their coffee says a lot about their person. She journals it! Do you think what you order in your coffee says something about you? What?
I wonder what Rachel would say about me since I don't drink coffee.

Agatha gets portrayed as a miserable excuse for a woman. But it turns out, she kept a promise to her friend for seventy-five years. What does that say about her character?
I think Agatha realized 75 years ago that she had let her friend down and that had lifelong results for Georgie.  Agatha realized that her friendship with Georgie was more important than anything else and she kept that commitment, looking out for Georgie for the rest of her life.  Through their friendship, we see that Agatha has a softer side.  However, I don't think she consciously knew how to show that side to others and still seem to be in control of everything.  She comes off as abrasive, perhaps to protect herself and prevent herself falling into a situation like Georgie's.

What do you think the title THE PEACH KEEPER means? Who is The Peach Keeper?
Based on the chapter titled "The Peach Keepers" (chapter 18), I got the impression that Agatha and Georgie were the Peach Keepers.  I see the title as a badge of protection:  together they protected others from ever falling under Tucker's influence and Agatha protected Georgie's secret.

Be sure to visit the original discussion to get Stephanie's take on these questions.

1 comment:

Heath and Jessica said...

This looks like a good book (& I didn't read the spoilers.) I am going to reserve it from our library today!