My rating: 5 of 5 stars
Entertainment Weekly said that The Sugar Queen was “like a dessert.” Considering that I just devoured it like it was a slice of chocolate cake, I would have to agree.
I bought this book several years ago at a book fair. I picked it up in the first place because I loved the cover. This is usually one of the biggest things for me when picking up books by authors I’m not familiar with. Second, after reading the teaser on the back cover I was intrigued. And then finally, I was getting it for $3.50 instead of $13. I love books, but I also love a bargain.
For whatever reason, The Sugar Queen sat lonely and unread on my bookshelf for several years. A few months ago I moved and both of the Sarah Addison Allen books that I own (I didn’t even know I had two!) ended up in the first box of books that was unpacked. (There are many, many more still waiting for me.)
We are having a little down time at work due to some department changes and I knew that I was going to be bored by 9pm last night (I work until 11p), so I decided to take a book along with me, even though we aren’t really supposed to read at our desks. I grabbed The Sugar Queen, settled it in my purse, and headed off to work.
When I got home from work last night I had read the first four chapters and I was hooked. The story is woven like a web, and each person is a string in the web, so every movement one string makes, it affects the ones around it. Each character, whether they were aware of it or not, and for a long time most weren’t, was affecting those around them in such subtle ways. It really is beautifully written.
There is also an element of magic in the book but it’s not really a focus so much as just a matter of fact part of the whole. Books follow Chloe from the time she is a lonely little girl living with her great-grandparents. It seems perfectly normal in the context of the world SAA has created, when the first book pops up in front of Chloe, trying to help her handle her feelings. It’s just part of who she is.
Josey lives a lonely existence, hoping to one day gain her mother’s love, while constantly being reminded that it’s not likely to ever happen. You are able to watch Josey blossom like a tulip in springtime between the first and last pages of The Sugar Queen. And while nothing overtly magical happens to or around Josey, you do start to see that she has a magic all her own.
Della Lee, probably the most disadvantaged of the three women, yet possibly, in the end, the smartest, is an interestingly, complex character. But still simple in some ways as well. She’s very matter of fact, not a lot of thought needs to go into things. Do you like something? Yes, then do it, have it, eat it, go to it, etc. No, then don’t. I came to enjoy the relationship that she and Josey had as much as if she was living in my closet! (That will make more sense when you read the book)
When I went to bed last night I planned to read another chapter or so before going to sleep. After all, I did have to work this morning. But, as so often happens, next thing I knew, it was two in the morning and the story was done.
I like to stop after reading a book and think about the characters and the lives they might be leading now, after I’ve closed the book on this particular moment of their life. I savored the story of three women, each one different but still a little bit the same, wondering what they might be doing now. I will certainly be picking up more works by Sarah Addison Allen.