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The Sugar Queen

June 17, 2009

My husband knows when I’m reading a book that has touched me in some way. Usually he will hear my say “ohhhh” or sigh really loud and realizes that what I’m reading must be something very special. I did this a lot with The Sugar Queen.

Written by Sarah Addison Allen, The Sugar Queen is the “sweet as honey” story of Josey Cirrini, a woman in her late twenties who describes herself as a pale, plain and slightly plump woman. She lives in a big Victorian house with her aging mother Margaret and a superstitious housekeeper Helena in the North Carolina town where she grew up. Known by everyone one in town as the daughter of the late great Marco Cirrini, Josey also had a reputation of being an unruly child. She also harbors two secrets – a crush on Adam, a handsome extreme skier turned mailman and a stash of candy hidden in the back of her closet. She lives a Rapunzel-like existence, mostly taking care of her mother, who due to her own relationship with Josey’s father, harbors bad feelings against her daughter.

One day her world is turned upside-down when she opens her closet for a sugary treat and is surprised to find Della Lee Baker inside. Della Lee is a local waitress, in her late thirties and is a rough and tumble kind of gal who shows up in the closet claiming she needs a place to hide. Josey and Della Lee are two unlikely friends, but quickly realize that they have one thing in common – they are both unhappy.

“Della Lee, you’re living in my closet, you’re blackmailing me over candy, and you are currently wearing sixteen articles of clothing. It’s amazing to me that you think I have problems.”

With encouragement from Della Lee, Josey soon finds herself branching out of the house, befriending Chloe, who just broke up with her boyfriend and has another quirky trait – books appear to her when she most needs them. Whether next to her on the couch, in the middle of the hallway or even at work, books appear everywhere (with the exception of the bathroom, since books are naturally leery around water).

Sounds like a strange little story, doesn’t it? As it turns out, The Sugar Queen is full of quirky characters and even some magical happenings, but in the end turns out to be a real heart-warming story. With plenty of descriptive language, it’s easy to get sucked into this book:

She stuck her head out and took a deep breath. If she could eat the cold air, she would. She thought cold snaps were like cookies, like gingersnaps. In her mind they were made with white chocolate chunks and had a cool, brittle vanilla frosting. They melted like snow in her mouth, turning creamy and warm.

I truly loved this whimsical book.

In the back of The Sugar Queen, there is a section where Random House Reader’s Circle asks the author “why do you think your books have struck such a cord with readers? ” Sarah Addison Allen replies “maybe because the books explore the magic of the ordinary. Everyday things are magical, we just take them for granted. Apples. Candy. A good haircut. Books. Community. Family. Friends. A small gift. A letter in the mail. Falling in love.”

Just be careful when you read this book, you may get a cavity after devouring this sugary sweet story. 🙂

For more information about The Sugar Queen and the author’s other book Garden Spells (which I haven’t read yet but will be soon) or her newest book to be published early next year, check out her website here!

31 Comments leave one →
  1. June 17, 2009 9:42 am

    Oh, I can’t wait to read this book. It’s been languishing in my TBR pile for way too long.

  2. June 17, 2009 9:49 am

    This book has been on my wish list for some time! I’m glad you enjoyed it!

  3. June 17, 2009 9:53 am

    I’m impatiently waiting for her next book. It was originally supposed to be released this fall. Sigh.

  4. chanknits permalink
    June 17, 2009 10:41 am

    I have so many books piled up, waiting to be read at home, but this is definitely going in my Amazon cart!

  5. June 17, 2009 11:04 am

    Wonderful review. I already have this book and can’t wait to read it!

  6. June 17, 2009 11:10 am

    I think Garden Spells has to be one of my favourite books of all time since I read it. I have been worried about reading this one because I don’t know if I like the summary. It sounds… odd. My worry about how I’ll like the book has been keeping me from reading it.

    I really should!

  7. June 17, 2009 11:27 am

    I loved this book too! What a great answer SAA had to that question! I’ve also read Garden Spells and now I’m patiently awaiting her new book, The Girl Who Chased the Moon, which is being released in early 2010. Your review was fantastic and i know you’ll love Garden Spells just as much!

  8. June 17, 2009 11:39 am

    Loved your wonderful review of this gem of a book!! If you loved this one you’ll truly enjoy Garden Spells!!!

  9. June 17, 2009 11:58 am

    Sounds wacky but I’m glad to hear it’s good! I loved Garden Spells (and must review it sometime soon!).

  10. June 17, 2009 12:36 pm

    What a wonderful review. The book sounds wonderfully addicting.

  11. June 17, 2009 3:20 pm

    What a great review! Thanks Stephanie… I’m definetly going to add this book to my “to read list.”

  12. June 17, 2009 3:37 pm

    Nice review, Stephanie. I read this book last year and really liked it. I think I smiled most of the time spent reading it! I can’t wait for her next book.

  13. June 17, 2009 3:48 pm

    I enjoyed this book, but thought her 1st book Garden Spell was even better. Great review.

  14. June 17, 2009 4:58 pm

    Terrific review. This sounds so good!

  15. June 17, 2009 4:59 pm

    I love whimsical stories and quirky characters. I need to look for this book.

  16. June 17, 2009 7:40 pm

    I like the sound of this one. I love stories that weave a little magic into the everyday. I’m going to add it to my must read list!

  17. June 17, 2009 8:00 pm

    I loved her Garden Spells, and I can’t wait to dive into this one. It’s been sitting on my pile for too long!

  18. June 17, 2009 8:00 pm

    I loved these books.

  19. June 17, 2009 8:18 pm

    This was such a fun book…I especially loved the magical books. 😀

  20. thekoolaidmom permalink
    June 17, 2009 11:35 pm

    Yep, this one is a definite sigher. I love the quote about Della’s doin’s and “You think I got problems?” LOL… I’ll have to grab this book 🙂

  21. June 17, 2009 11:42 pm

    Great review, Stephanie!

    I loved this enchanting little book too, along with Garden Spells. Funny because I never thought I’d be one for magical realism.

  22. June 18, 2009 8:51 am

    I can’t wait for Sarah Addison Allen’s next book as I have really enjoyed both of her books so far.

  23. June 18, 2009 5:19 pm

    I loved Garden Spells. I’m definitely going to have to check this one out.

  24. June 18, 2009 10:46 pm

    Garden Spells is even better, in my humble opinion — at least the storyline. I think her writing improved with the second book. And, I’m sad to see Sassymonkey’s comment that the next book will be late off the press. Darn. I think Sarah Addison Allen has become a new favorite of mine. I’m anxious to see what she comes up with next.

  25. June 19, 2009 7:10 pm

    Wow. Sounds like one for me. I hadn’t heard of it before, so thanks so much for the review.

  26. June 19, 2009 9:46 pm

    And what a beautiful cover!

  27. June 20, 2009 9:18 am

    love the cover, love candy–sounds like a match made in heaven for me. thank you for the suggestion–like i need another book to add to mount tbr. 🙂

  28. June 23, 2009 6:19 pm

    I can’t believe I haven’t read either of Addison’s books. They both have garnered such rave reviews. BUT I did just order them both, so they’ll be arriving soon. Yay.

  29. July 17, 2009 2:45 pm

    If you liked Sugar Queen you’ll love Garden Spells, which is my favorite of the two.

  30. December 26, 2009 12:42 pm

    Ok, I know this was posted a while ago, but I have just recently been introduced to Sarah Addison Allen’s works and I love them! Your review was lovely, thankyou!


  1. The Sugar Queen by Sarah Addison Allen | Janicu's Book Blog

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