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The Peach Keeper

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The Peach Keeper

A Novel
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NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLERIt's the dubious distinction of thirty-year-old Willa Jackson to hail from a fine old Southern family of means that met with financial ruin generations ago. The Blue Ridge...
NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLERIt's the dubious distinction of thirty-year-old Willa Jackson to hail from a fine old Southern family of means that met with financial ruin generations ago. The Blue Ridge...
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  • NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER

    It's the dubious distinction of thirty-year-old Willa Jackson to hail from a fine old Southern family of means that met with financial ruin generations ago. The Blue Ridge Madam--built by Willa's great-great-grandfather and once the finest home in Walls of Water, North Carolina--has stood for years as a monument to misfortune and scandal. Willa has lately learned that an old classmate--socialite Paxton Osgood--has restored the house to its former glory, with plans to turn it into a top-flight inn. But when a skeleton is found buried beneath the property's lone peach tree, long-kept secrets come to light, accompanied by a spate of strange occurrences throughout the town. Thrust together in an unlikely friendship, united by a full-blooded mystery, Willa and Paxton must confront the passions and betrayals that once bound their families--and uncover the truths that have transcended time to touch the hearts of the living.

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Excerpts-
  • From the book

    Hiding PlacesThe day Paxton Osgood took the box of heavy-stock, foil-lined envelopes to the post office, the ones she'd had a professional calligrapher address, it began to rain so hard the air turned as white as bleached cotton. By nightfall, rivers had crested at flood stage and, for the first time since 1936, the mail couldn't be delivered. When things began to dry out, when basements were pumped free of water and branches were cleared from yards and streets, the invitations were finally delivered, but to all the wrong houses. Neighbors laughed over fences, handing the misdelivered pieces of mail to their rightful owners with comments about the crazy weather and their careless postman. The next day, an unusual number of people showed up at the doctor's office with infected paper cuts, because the envelopes had sealed, cementlike, from the moisture. Later, the single-card invitations themselves seemed to hide and pop back up at random. Mrs. Jameson's invitation disappeared for two days, then reappeared in a bird's nest outside. Harper Rowley's invitation was found in the church bell tower, Mr. Kingsley's in his elderly mother's garden shed.

    If anyone had been paying attention to the signs, they would have realized that air turns white when things are about to change, that paper cuts mean there's more to what's written on the page than meets the eye, and that birds are always out to protect you from things you don't see.

    But no one was paying attention. Least of all Willa Jackson.

    The envelope sat untouched on the back counter of Willa's store for over a week. She picked it up curiously when it had been delivered with the other mail, but then she'd dropped it like it had burned her as soon as she'd recognized what it was. Even now, when she walked by it, she would throw a suspicious glance its way.

    "Open it already," Rachel finally said with exasperation that morning. Willa turned to Rachel Edney, who was standing behind the coffee bar across the store. She had short dark hair and, in her capris and sport tank, looked like she was ready to go climb a large rock. No matter how many times Willa told her she didn't actually have to dress in the clothes the store sold-Willa herself rarely deviated from jeans and boots-Rachel was convinced she had to represent.

    "I'm not going. No need to open it," Willa said, deciding to take on the mundane task of folding the new stock of organic T-shirts, hoping it would help her ignore the strange feeling that came over her every time she thought of that invitation, like a balloon of expectation expanding in the center of her body. She used to feel this way a lot when she was younger, right before she did something really stupid. But she thought she was past all of that. She'd padded her life with so much calm that she didn't think anything could penetrate it. Some things, apparently, still could.

    Rachel made a tsking sound. "You're such an elitist."

    That made Willa laugh. "Explain to me why not opening an invitation to a gala thrown by the richest women in town makes me elitist."

    "You look at everything they do with disdain, like they're just too silly to be believed."

    "I do not."

    "Well, it's either that or you're repressing a secret desire to be one of them," Rachel said as she put on a green apron with Au Naturel Sporting Goods and Café embroidered on it in yellow script.

    Rachel was eight years younger than Willa, but Willa had never written off Rachel's opinions as those of just another twenty-two-year-old who thought she knew everything. Rachel had lived a vagabond and bohemian life, and she knew a lot about human nature. The only reason she had settled...

About the Author-
  • Sarah Addison Allen is the author of The Girl Who Chased the Moon, Garden Spells, and The Sugar Queen. She was born and raised in Asheville, North Carolina.

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    Random House Publishing Group
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  • Copyright Protection (DRM) required by the Publisher may be applied to this title to limit or prohibit printing or copying. File sharing or redistribution is prohibited. Your rights to access this material expire at the end of the lending period. Please see Important Notice about Copyrighted Materials for terms applicable to this content.

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The Peach Keeper
A Novel
Sarah Addison Allen
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Sarah Addison Allen
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