Book Review: The Sugar Queen by Sarah Addison Allen

Genre: Contemporary, Women’s Literature, Magical Realism
Rating: 4/5

Sarah Addison Allen’s books are the kind that you would want to live in.

Her settings are not crazy fantastical, but they hold a certain kind of charm and faerie dust. All of her books are set in the south. Southern rules of decorum, womanhood, and chivalry are very much alive in these novels. Each book is solitary, stand alone, but carry similar ideas and themes. A common trend I see in her novels is in the characters. Allen’s main characters are always women between the ages of 20-35, single, and believe love is about the last thing they need. There’s always a sense of self discovery which I find she does very well. Allen knows women and writes for women. And I would say if guys want a leg up into how women think all they have to do is crack open one of her novels.

Without further ado!

The Sugar Queen Goodreads Synopsis reads as follows:

Twenty-seven-year-old Josey Cirrini is sure of three things: winter in her North Carolina hometown is her favorite season, she’s a sorry excuse for a Southern belle, and sweets are best eaten in the privacy of her hidden closet. For while Josey has settled into an uneventful life in her mother’s house, her one consolation is the stockpile of sugary treats and paperback romances she escapes to each night…. Until she finds it harboring none other than local waitress Della Lee Baker, a tough-talking, tenderhearted woman who is one part nemesis—and two parts fairy godmother…

Fleeing a life of bad luck and big mistakes, Della Lee has decided Josey’s clandestine closet is the safest place to crash. In return she’s going to change Josey’s life—because, clearly, it is not the closet of a happy woman. With Della Lee’s tough love, Josey is soon forgoing pecan rolls and caramels, tapping into her startlingly keen feminine instincts, and finding her narrow existence quickly expanding.

Before long, Josey bonds with Chloe Finley, a young woman who makes the best sandwiches in town, is hounded by books that inexplicably appear whenever she needs them, and—most amazing of all—has a close connection to Josey’s longtime crush. 


The characters in this novel entertain you the most. True to Allen’s novels, the women are the main characters. In fact, I would go as far as to say that she usually leaves her male characters as static characters. If they change it’s only minorly and it is in direct correlation to how their female counterpart changes. This is because the story is about the women and there shouldn’t be anything distracting from their story.

Josey is socially awkward because she’s stuck in an identity that her small town has created for her. Everyone remembers her as the spoiled, hot tempered child of the Cirrini’s and no one expects much else out of her. She’s stuck as her mother’s caretaker because her mother won’t let her be anything else. In all fairness, Josey hasn’t tried to be anything else until Della Lee comes and lives in her sweets-filled closet. Josey is The Sugar Queen. She emotionally eats junk food in her closet in secret. If that sounds funny to you just imagine Dolly Parton crash landing in your closet and you’ve got what Josey experiences with Della Lee. What I like most about Josey is her growth is not drastic or overnight. She’s very much a realistic character.

Chloe Finley is the character in which Allen exercises her unique use of magical realism. Chloe is plagued, haunted even, by books. It started as a child. Whenever she wants to learn something or needs help a book on the subject of her inquiry appears. Her library is literally a story of her life. She doesn’t always want the books that come to her, however. Chloe’s mishaps with books are both humorous and thoughtful. Her story (without giving anything away) is similar to what a lot of girls experience when dating one person for a long period of time.

All the women in this story go through a sort of identity crisis. They’ve reached a point in their life where they wish to make a change, but the world around them is stuck in seeing them as the old self they no longer wish to be. Their stories are real, painful, funny, and heart warming.

You get so much more than what you paid for when you read this book! You think you’re just going to read about Josey, but then you get the eccentric Della Lee, and then there’s Chloe, and Josey’s mother even undergoes a mini-story of her own through the book.

Allen’s writing keeps you smiling and laughing even through the more hard hitting sections of the novel. Her humor is subtle and sweet, just like the title hints toward. Each chapter is named after a kind of sweet or junk food which I found myself looking forward to as I read. There are also several twists and tear jerking moments that will take you completely by surprise! I really had no idea I would cry while reading this book!

All in all, it’s a quick, fun, and beautiful ride.

I highly suggest The Sugar Queen for Modern Contemporary and romance fans. If you love the show Hart of Dixie or loved Fried Green Tomatoes then you’ll love The Sugar Queen.

Check out Sarah Addison Allen: Here

Check out The Sugar Queen: Here

If you’ve read anything particularly fun, entertaining, or something you think I would like let me know in the comments!


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