Mini-reviews: The Peach Keeper by Sarah Addison Allen; The Dinner by Herman Koch; and The Other Typist by Suzanne Rindell

peachkeeperTitle: The Peach Keeper
Author: Sarah Addison Allen
Genre: Contemporary fiction, magical realism
Publisher: Bantam Books
Rating: 4 out of 5 stars
Source: Print copy from my personal library
First line: The 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.

Goodreads blurb: 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 during Walls of Water’s heyday, and once the town’s grandest home—has stood for years as a lonely monument to misfortune and scandal. And Willa herself has long strived to build a life beyond the brooding Jackson family shadow. No easy task in a town shaped by years of tradition and the well-marked boundaries of the haves and have-nots.

But Willa has lately learned that an old classmate—socialite do-gooder Paxton Osgood—of the very prominent Osgood family, has restored the Blue Ridge Madam to her former glory, with plans to open a top-flight inn. Maybe, at last, the troubled past can be laid to rest while something new and wonderful rises from its ashes. But what rises instead is a skeleton, found buried beneath the property’s lone peach tree, and certain to drag up dire consequences along with it.

For the bones—those of charismatic traveling salesman Tucker Devlin, who worked his dark charms on Walls of Water seventy-five years ago—are not all that lay hidden out of sight and mind. Long-kept secrets surrounding the troubling remains have also come to light, seemingly heralded by a spate of sudden strange occurrences throughout the town.

Now, thrust together in an unlikely friendship, united by a full-blooded mystery, Willa and Paxton must confront the dangerous passions and tragic betrayals that once bound their families—and uncover truths of the long-dead that have transcended time and defied the grave to touch the hearts and souls of the living.

I really enjoy Allen’s fiction – it’s contemporary with a slight magical twist. I also appreciate the way she writes her female characters – I can relate to their self-doubt, I guess. Each of her characters go through a journey of self-discovery and change, and I enjoy cheering them on and watching them become stronger women in the process. While this wasn’t my favorite of her books, I still loved every minute I spent between the pages.

thedinnerTitle: The Dinner
Author: Herman Koch
Genre: Contemporary fiction, Dutch fiction
Publisher: AudioGO
Rating: 4 out of 5 stars
Source: Audiobook from the public library
Audiobook reader: Clive Mantle
Audiobook length: 8 hours and 55 minutes
First line: We were going out to dinner.

Goodreads blurb:
It’s a summer’s evening in Amsterdam, and two couples meet at a fashionable restaurant for dinner. Between mouthfuls of food and over the polite scrapings of cutlery, the conversation remains a gentle hum of polite discourse — the banality of work, the triviality of the holidays. But behind the empty words, terrible things need to be said, and with every forced smile and every new course, the knives are being sharpened.

Each couple has a fifteen-year-old son. The two boys are united by their accountability for a single horrific act; an act that has triggered a police investigation and shattered the comfortable, insulated worlds of their families. As the dinner reaches its culinary climax, the conversation finally touches on their children. As civility and friendship disintegrate, each couple show just how far they are prepared to go to protect those they love.

Talk about a discussion-starter! I started this book thinking the characters were one way, and by the end of the book my assumptions were turned upside down. This would be a perfect book club selection, and I would love to be able to discuss it with someone who has read it, since I can’t go into much here without giving major plot points away. Needless to say, it is a dark and twisty book with an ending that resulted in jaw-dropping disbelief. It is also one that is perfect on audio, as Clive Mantle did a fantastic job.

othertypistTitle: The Other Typist
Author: Suzanne Rindell
Genre: Historical fiction, psychological thriller
Publisher: Amy Einhorn Books
Rating: 4 out of 5 stars
Source: Print copy from my personal library
First line: They said the typewriter would unsex us.

Goodreads blurb: Rose Baker seals men’s fates. With a few strokes of the keys that sit before her, she can send a person away for life in prison. A typist in a New York City Police Department precinct, Rose is like a high priestess. Confessions are her job. It is 1923, and while she may hear every detail about shootings, knifings, and murders, as soon as she leaves the interrogation room she is once again the weaker sex, best suited for filing and making coffee.

This is a new era for women, and New York is a confusing place for Rose. Gone are the Victorian standards of what is acceptable. All around her women bob their hair, they smoke, they go to speakeasies. Yet prudish Rose is stuck in the fading light of yesteryear, searching for the nurturing companionship that eluded her childhood. When glamorous Odalie, a new girl, joins the typing pool, despite her best intentions Rose falls under Odalie’s spell. As the two women navigate between the sparkling underworld of speakeasies by night and their work at the station by day, Rose is drawn fully into Odalie’s high-stakes world. And soon her fascination with Odalie turns into an obsession from which she may never recover.

Another mind-bending, twisty ride of a book! I have been reading a lot of books that have unreliable narrators lately, and Rose is an intriguing character. You realize from very early on in the book that you can’t take everything she says at face value, but you’re not exactly sure why. Until you get to the end – and then you’ll want to talk about it with everyone else who has read it and find out what they thought. Definitely a must-read.

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12 Responses to Mini-reviews: The Peach Keeper by Sarah Addison Allen; The Dinner by Herman Koch; and The Other Typist by Suzanne Rindell

  1. bermudaonion (Kathy)
    Twitter: bermudaonion

    I really want to read all three of these, especially The Dinner, which just happens to be the only one of the three I don’t own. I’m glad to see you enjoyed them all so much!

    • CarrieK
      Twitter: booksandmovies

      Kathy – The Dinner is one that has really stuck with me – I’m still thinking about it!

  2. irene says:

    I love Sarah Addison Allen’s books too, so glad you enjoyed, the others are new authors to me, but interesting.

  3. Heather
    Twitter: BookAddictHeath

    Ooh I have read all three of these! The Peach Keeper I liked but didn’t love. The Dinner was better than I was expecting, and I was fascinated by how much I HATED the characters. And The Other Typist!! I’m still not sure how I feel about that one. I don’t get the ending, I know that for sure.

    • CarrieK
      Twitter: booksandmovies

      Heather – that ending to The Other Typist had me rereading the epilogue. I THINK I know what happened, but who knows?!

  4. Patti Smith
    Twitter: PattiRSmith

    Oh wow…I want all three of these as well…ESPECIALLY The Other Typist!!

  5. Beth F
    Twitter: BethFishReads

    I really need to read the Dinner. Yeah — what you said about The Other Typist.

    • CarrieK
      Twitter: booksandmovies

      Candace – I think you’ll love The Dinner – or maybe “love” isn’t the right word, but it will hook you. 🙂

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