14/05/2009

The Sugar Queen (by Sarah Addison Allen)

I had never heard of Sarah Addison Allen. I would probably never have read any of her books, either, but was sent this one by The Bookbag site for review. The front cover intrigued me, and the blurb on the back sounded bizarre but intriguing.

'The Sugar Queen' is, indeed, somewhat surreal. It's also very enjoyable. Josey is the star; she is a woman in her late twenties who needs to escape from the controlling influence of her mother. She has all she needs in material terms, including a closet full of junk food which she eats when she's feeling low, but no friends.

Then one morning (in the opening chapter of the book) she finds Della Lee, a local woman she knows slightly, calmly sitting in her closet. Josey wants her to go away but Della Lee insists she has nowhere to go: she has just left her boyfriend.

Against her better judgement, Josey allows her to stay, and then over the next weeks starts listening to Della Lee's suggestions and advice about clothes and people. She even takes a few steps towards some independence.

I was surprised how much I enjoyed this book. There's light romance, and a serious side too. I didn't expect the ending and wasn't too sure about it, although it worked in context.

Recommended, on the whole, to anyone who likes light women's fiction, and doesn't mind a bit of surreality.

My longer review of 'The Sugar Queen' is now available on the Bookbag site.

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