Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Review: The Sugar Queen by Sarah Addison Allen


Josey Cirrini is sure of three things: winter is her favorite season, she’s a sorry excuse for a Southern belle, and sweets are best eaten in the privacy of her closet. For while Josey has settled into an uneventful life in her mother’s house, her one consolation is the stockpile of sugary treats and paperback romances she escapes to each night…. Until she finds her closet harboring Della Lee Baker, a local waitress who is one part nemesis—and two parts fairy godmother. With Della Lee’s tough love, Josey’s narrow existence quickly expands. She even bonds with Chloe Finley, a young woman who is hounded by books that inexplicably appear when she needs them—and who has a close connection to Josey’s longtime crush. Soon Josey is living in a world where the color red has startling powers, and passion can make eggs fry in their cartons. And that’s just for starters."

Title and Author of Book: The Sugar Queen by Sarah Addison Allen
Fiction or non-fiction: Fiction
Genre: Literary Fiction , Contemporary Romance (per Random House)
Where did I get the book: Random House

What led you to pick up this book? I read the author's first book, Garden Spells and loved it. Read my review here.

Summarize the plot but don't give away the ending! See above Summary.....

What did you like most about this book? I liked the warmth and whimsical style of storytelling in The Sugar Queen . It is similar in style to Garden Spells yet it is very different. I adored Josey and how her character was so real and honest and as a reader you could see her mature and find her own identity. Her vulnerabilites from her childhood and family secrets kept her in a fantasy world filled with hidden stashes of candy and romance novels who became her friends. She had no real friends until Della Lee shows up in her closet and guides her along the way to following her own instincts. Josey is able to develop friendships with Chloe who has the unwitting ability to have books show up around her just when she needs them. I enjoyed this part of the story as a booklover. Josey also develops a love interest and learns more about her parents and learns to stand on her own two feet.

What did you like least? There wasn't anything in the way the story was told that I didn't like. Although, there were characters that I didn't like but I knew that they were part of the foundation of the story so were needed. I found Josey's mother very selfish and narcisistic and downright annoying. She could not extend herself a bit of empathy for her daughter unless it was for her own gain.

Have you read any other books by this author? Yes, Garden Spells and you can Read my review here.

What did you think of the main character? As I mentioned above, I adored Josey and how she was finally able to stand up to her mother and make a life of her own. She grew in strength and courage throughout the story as she learned that there was a life outside of her house and there was magic to be found inside of her closet. She learned to trust her instincts and not be tied to the past any longer.

What about the ending? I did figure out how Della Lee was able to live in her closet but I liked how the storyline wrapped up in the end for everyone. Except, I'm not sure Josey's mother deserved her share of happiness. There is a touch of romance to the novel but I wouldn't call it a romance's part of the story that is woven in perfectly. I won't tell you anymore so as not to spoil it for those who haven't read this wonderful novel.

Would you recommend this book for a book club discussion? Absolutely, there is a lot to discuss about this book as there are themes related to identitity, friendship, mother/daughter relationships, love and romance, books and more.

In the trade paperback edition of The Sugar Queen , there is a readers guide and conversation with the author. You can find a Readers Guide online here for The Sugar Queen.

Check out Sarah Addison Allen's wonderful website for more information and details about The Sugar Queen.

Share a favorite quote from the book:

" Books can be possessive, can't they? You're walking around in a bookstore and a certain one jumps out at you, like it had moved there on its own, just to get your attention. Sometimes what's inside will change your life, but sometimes you don't even have to read it. Sometimes it's a comfort just to have a book around. Many of these books haven't even had their spines cracked. 'Why do you buy books you don't even read?' our daughter asks us. That's like asking someone who lives alone why they bought a cat. For company, of course. "


My Thoughts & Your Opinion:

I'm trying a different review style that I saw Staci use on Life in the Thumb. Let me know what you you like this style or do you prefer the narrative review style I usually use? I'd love to hear your honest thoughts either way!


  1. I love your review style! I always seem to have problems when it comes to reviewing a book completely. The questions cover almost everything. I may borrow them from you for my next review!

    The Sugar Queen has been on my wish list forever...I can't wait to read it. Great review! I also have not read Garden Spells, so I will need to add that one to my wish list as well!

  2. I like these question style reviews for something different, but I think I prefer the narrative style. Don't know why exactly.
    Great review either way. I just ordered this one.

  3. Bonnie, glad you liked this book, I did too!

    I like the review format and have thought of using it myself. I copied and pasted something from Dewey that gautamy tripathy posted a while ago. It is similar to the form you used in this review. I can send it to you if you want. Really it's more a list of points to include in a review.

  4. Thanks for the review..the first thing with this book that catches me is the cover...I just love it! Now that I know it's also a good story, I'm more intrigued.

  5. I like the free-flowing narrative better but that's just a personal preference of mine. To me, the Q&A format is too structured even though it hits on all the key points.

    I don't hear your voice coming through as much, which really doesn't make much sense since you are the one answering the question but that's the feeling I get.

  6. Whimsical and book club worthy don't often combine in one book. Sounds like a good one to recommend.

  7. I like this review style, too, but I will miss your non-guided style.

    I have THE SUGAR QUEEN on the WWBL. It will be a keeper and I haven't read it yet. I just know. GARDEN SPELLS is a keeper.

  8. This book was really good wasn't it? I like this style of review to mix things up a little bit. I'm sure that you'll end up doing both and then some!! I'm always looking for different ways to get my thoughts across and I can feel how much you enjoyed this!! I can't wait for her next one!!

  9. I just finished Garden Spells and loved it. In fact, I think my review goes up tomorrow! This one is waiting in the wings. I have high hopes for it!

    I prefer narrative style reviews, but whatever works!

  10. Either style is fine with me! I enjoyed reading your review and agreed with it thoroughly. The Sugar Queen was a fun read - I also figured out how she got in the closet before the end of the book, but it still was a nice twist to the story.

  11. I liked the Sugar Queen, as well as her first book" Garden Spells.

  12. I loved this book as well as the first one. They are both very different but both good. I like this style for reviews once in a while but honestly I prefer the narrative style.

  13. Bonnie, I have put this book on my wish list! Thanks for the wonderful review!

  14. I really must read Sarah Allen. I think the books are my kind of book, but I haven't got there yet.


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