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BOOK REVIEW: The Sugar Queen by Sarah Addison Allen


sq_us_paperbackJosey Cirrini’s life has been one of atonement and servitude; atonement for misdeeds as a child and servitude to her unhappy, domineering, widowed mother.  Mrs. Cirrini ensures that her daughter possesses no thoughts of independence; instructing her on what to wear (and what not to wear), when and how to do things.  However, Josey’s life is full of secrets.  She secretly has kept the red sweater her mother forbids her to wear, her closet is a stockpile of romance novels and candy, and she has a secret crush on her postman.

Everything changes when Della Lee Baker, a down-on-her luck, tough waitress, sets up camp in Josey’s closet and refuses to leave.  Slowly Della Lee encourages Josey to reevaluate her life and expand it beyond her mother’s limitations.  In the process Josey meets Chloe Finley, a young woman with a peculiar affinity for books and a close friendship with Josey’s postman.  As Josey’s life changes, her relationship with her mother fractures, revealing long buried secrets and unexpected possibilities for the future.

Sarah Addison Allen’s second novel The Sugar Queen is pure delight, a magical work that immediately captivates readers and should come with a warning label: “Do not begin this book just before bed.”  Readers who do may soon find themselves wondering “how could it possibly be 4 a.m.?”  Once you’re captured by The Sugar Queen, there is no chance of reading only a few chapters.

The characters in The Sugar Queen are strongly drawn and fairly sparkle with life.  In fact, the entire novel vibrates with constrained energy and vitality.  In Allen’s world, books appear when needed and will remain as not so subtle reminders of what needs to happen.  Passion causes water to boil and eggs to fry in their cartons.  And here, fairy godmothers can appear in the most unlikely guises.

Not much can be said about The Sugar Queen without revealing spoilers, suffice it to say that this is a book you’ll read in one sitting and like Chloe’s books, will follow you around until you understand its hidden meanings.

ISBN10: 0553384848
ISBN13: 9780553384840

Trade Paperback
294 pages
Publisher: Bantam
Publication Date: April 15, 2009
Author Website:

posted under fiction, magical realism

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