The Sugar Queen by Sarah Addison Allen

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The Sugar Queen by Sarah Addison Allen

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Category: Women's Fiction
Rating: 4.5/5
Reviewer: Sue Fairhead
Reviewed by Sue Fairhead
Summary: A slightly surreal but very enjoyable novel about a young woman maturing and finding love, under the influence of a strange visitor hiding in her closet.
Buy? Yes Borrow? Yes
Pages: 352 Date: April 2009
Publisher: Hodder Paperbacks
ISBN: 978-0340979174

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Josey is in her late twenties, and lives with her rather controlling mother who doesn't even seem to like her very much. Josey's late father was very wealthy, so she lives in luxury; however she has no friends. She also has a secret stash of sweets and other junk food at the back of her closet. Her secret binges mean that she's rather overweight, and her self-esteem is pretty low.

This is not, however, a book about eating disorders. Josey's life changes one day when she discovers Della Lee - a local woman whom she knew slightly - sitting in her closet. Della Lee says that she has run away from her boyfriend, Julian, and has nowhere else to go. She starts giving Josey advice about what to wear, and suggesting people she should meet. Josey doesn't want to take any notice - she would really prefer Della Lee to leave - but she becomes intrigued despite herself, and begins taking very small steps towards independence.

If that wasn't bizarre enough, Josey gets to know another local woman called Chloe, who has a magnetic attraction to books. She never buys any, but has a huge collection, and new books appear in her life with appropriate titles, whenever she has a problem.

So it's slightly surreal and a little fluffy. But it's also a very good read, with a serious side. Josey is only remembered in her town as the obnoxious nine-year-old she once was; she has to fight to be recognised as a pleasant, friendly young woman. Her mother has to come to terms with her daughter growing up, albeit ten years later than the time when she was officially an adult. Josey also has to accept that her beloved father wasn't the perfect gentleman she always thought him. And she has to consider what she actually wants to do with her life rather than spending all her time trying to appease her mother.

I was surprised how much I enjoyed this book, which was quite a page-turner once I had got into it. I didn't see the surprise ending coming; perhaps I should have done. I wasn't sure that I liked it, as it felt like a bit of a cop-out... but it worked. If you like women's fiction and are looking for something a little different from usual, I would recommend this.

Many thanks to the publishers for sending this book.

If you like slightly surreal women's fiction, you might also like the more recent books by Cecelia Ahern, such as A Place Called Here, or It's a Kind of Magic by Carole Matthews. You might also enjoy How to Get a Love Life by Rosie Blake.

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Buy The Sugar Queen by Sarah Addison Allen at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy The Sugar Queen by Sarah Addison Allen at


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