Book Review: The Sugar Queen

The Sugar Queen
Narrated By: Karen White
Published By: Books on Tape
Publication Date: January 2008
Length: 8 hours, 7 minutes
Buy it at Amazon or IndieBound
Source: Library
Audience: Adult - Southern Fiction, Magical Realism

On the Writing & Story:

I originally tried to read this book right after Garden Spells and it didn't go so well. I couldn't relate to the characters and it didn't have the same appeal and magic as Garden Spells. I honestly can't recall if I finish it way back then, but regardless I had little memory of the plot. After reading and reviewing The Peach Keeper and The Girl Who Chased the Moon, I decided I needed to give this one another try. The first time I read this in the traditional format, but I opted to go the audiobook route for the second try since the other audiobooks of Allen's works had been so well done and entertaining.

The Sugar Queen, like the other novels, has two main female protagonists. Josey, is the only child of the wealthy Marco and  Margaret Cirrini. Her father, long since dead, has secrets that Josey knows nothing about and her mother seems to hate the very sight of her. Poor Josey lives in a gilded bubble, hidden from the rest of the town, only venturing outside to take her mother to functions. She finds solace in eating sweets that she keeps hidden in her closet, but all that changes when Della Lee shows up and takes up residence there.

The second protagonist, Chloe Finley, is having romantic trouble with her boyfriend, Jake. At the beginning of the novel, he has confessed to cheating on Chloe, but refuses to name the woman. Chloe is heartbroken and enraged. She kicks Jake out and refuses to talk to him. Her path soon merges with Josey's and life begins to change in dramatic, magical ways for both women.

The Sugar Queen is laced with the quirky characters, magic, and romance that I have come to expect from a Sarah Addison Allen novel. She does a gorgeous job of bringing to life towns in North Carolina and populating them with the people from her imagination. I loved hearing how Josey and Chloe's lives unfolded. I am so bummed that I have read everything there is to read by Sarah for now; I suppose I will just have to anxiously await her next book.

This is the perfect holiday read! It will certainly have visions of Sugar Plums dancing in your head. 

On the Audio:

I am so glad I gave this book another try. I firmly believe that sometimes we just aren't ready for books as readers. I honestly feel that Addison is such a gifted storyteller that her stories are meant to be heard aloud and not just read. I probably will continue to listen to the audio of her new works instead of trying to read them myself. I feel so much more connected to the characters in the audio version.

Karen White has narrated other of Allen's works and I have loved how she brings the stories to life. She is quickly becoming one of my favorite narrators. There seems to be another version with Ariadne Meyers as the narrator, but I can't speak on how good that one is.

One Last Gripe: Josey was a difficult character for me to like at first. She did eventually grow on me, but I had to wade through the annoyance. By the end of the novel, I found that I had a lot more in common with Josey than I ever expected.

My Favorite Thing About This Book: Watching Josey grow a backbone

First Sentence: When Josey woke up and saw the feathery frost on her windowpane, she smiled.

Favorite Character: Chloe

Least Favorite Character: Margaret

In this irresistible follow-up to her New York Times bestselling debut,Garden Spells, author Sarah Addison Allen tells the tale of a young woman whose family secrets—and secret passions—are about to change her life forever.

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. 

As little by little Josey dares to step outside herself, she discovers a world where the color red has astonishing power, passion can make eggs fry in their cartons, and romance can blossom at any time—even for her. It seems that Della Lee’s work is done, and it’s time for her to move on. But the truth about where she’s going, why she showed up in the first place—and what Chloe has to do with it all—is about to add one more unexpected chapter to Josey’s fast-changing life.

Brimming with warmth, wit, and a sprinkling of magic, here is a spellbinding tale of friendship, love—and the enchanting possibilities of every new day.


  1. As wonderful as The Sugar Queen sounds, I just have to also add that the cover is soooooooo pretty!!! :)

  2. @M.A.D. - I'm with you about the cover. I love it! Sarah Addison Allen has some gorgeous covers, but I think this one might just be my favorite of them all.


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