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The Sugar Queen is my first Sarah Addison Allen book, picked up because it’s set in North Carolina during winter. I heard her books had a touch of magic realism and that term always makes me crave of Gabriel Garcia Marquez and smile. His Strange Pilgrims is the best collection of short fiction I’ve ever read. It’s perfect. Addison’s approach couldn’t be more different, but it’s not fair to compare anyone to him.

I read this one over several Honeymania bubble baths with a glass of chilled wine. During the last chapter, I even had chocolate chip cookie dough firming up in the fridge. Don’t want to tell you what to do, but mine way is probably the best way to read this book.

the sugar queen

Josey Cirrini is 27 years old and stuck. Living at home and caring for her mother has not stirred up the adventurous life she reads about in her romance novels and travel magazines, which she keeps hidden in a space in her closet packed with moonpies, pecan rolls and Little Debbie cookies. The gal has a sweet tooth and prefers to indulge in the privacy of her closet. So it’s a problem when she finds Della Lee in there.

As far as inciting events go, our repressed sugar fiend finding a brassy broad in her secret sweets stash is pretty funny and it gets things rolling. It’s clear within the first few pages that Josie’s life is a vacuum of people-pleasing duties and she’s far too polite to force Della to leave. It’s also clear that Della’s hiding something, but she deflects that notion by turning the focus on Josie.

I was a bit confused at first. Josie’s situation had me assuming this was set at least decades if not a century ago. Nothing about Josey’s life feels current, but apparently it’s set in the present. My sleepy detective side finally noticed everyone has cell phones.

Her life had become so weird since Della Lee had shown up in her closet. Was this really real? Or was she making it up? What if she was going crazy?

So I can’t talk about the plot because it all rolls together and it’d be a shame to give anything away. That’d be like licking the frosting from your cupcake, which my sister did to me once and I still hold a grudge for. As you might guess, the two women from opposite sides of everything can’t share the same space without influencing and nudging each other to do the thing they don’t want to do.

I liked this one. One reason I love reading YA books is the starring role friendships play. I haven’t read a lot of women’s fiction lately, so maybe friendship is often a key element. I don’t know, but I appreciated it here. In fact, this reads a lot like a fun YA novel, only the characters are a bit older. I wouldn’t call it magic realism, but it’s a quick read with warmth, friendship and a slither of heightened reality.

This is an author I’ll seek out again when in the mood for something light and sweet.