Saturday, July 30, 2011

The Kitchen Reader Book Club: The Sugar Queen by Sarah Addison Allen

The Sugar Queen by Sarah Addison Allen was chosen by Karen of Shortbread for the August edition of The Kitchen Reader food-related book club. I have been challenging myself to find the time to read as of late, so discovering The Kitchen Reader book club was a bit of good luck.

Since I have been going through my fair share of deep stuff in my life, I was relieved to find that The Sugar Queen was a fun, light read. It is not a book about merely food, it is a book about how a woman who is leading an unfulfilled life comforts herself with an abundance of sweets. Josey is deeply ashamed by her relationship with food, even when it involves eating a simple sandwich, or eating in public.
"Josey stared at the bag. Eating that sandwich would make her feel better. And it would make her feel worse. It was a familiar dilemma. She'd never experienced anything that was simply and entirely good for her. She wondered if such a thing even existed." P.58
While food is a theme in the novel, the focus is more about the main character Josey and how she relates to food. As soon as she is feeling nervous, sad, or discontent, she runs to her hidden stash of candy in her closet and numbs her feelings by binging on sugar. Not only that, but every day pleasures are related back to her relationship with food.
"[Josey] stuck her head out and took a deep breath. If she could eat the cold air, she would. She thought cold snaps were like cookies, like gingersnaps. In her mind they were made with white chocolate chunks and had a cool, brittle vanilla frosting. They melted like snow in her mouth, turning creamy and warm."  P.2
One day, Josey finds Della Lee, a deeply troubled woman, hiding in her closet. In the days that follow, and Della Lee refuses to leave her closet, Josey is forced to confront all of the feelings she has been trying to deny for the majority of her life. Will she ever find requited love? Will she ever have a family that loves her for who she is? Will she be brave enough to leave her wealthy mother and venture forth on her own? The mysterious woman in her closet prods her along, turning her life upside down.

Besides Josey, we are given the viewpoint of two other women in the novel. Josey's mother, Margaret, who seems solely hell bent on crushing Josey's self esteem so her daughter will never have the gumption to leave her, and Chloe, a sandwich shop owner who besides having a magical relationship with books, is also dealing with the shocking knowledge that her boyfriend has been unfaithful. What unfolds in the novel is the revelation of all of the secrets. Why is Josey's mother so mean? Why did Chloe's boyfriend cheat on her? Will any of the women in this novel be able to face reality and share the secrets they have been hiding for so long?

Overall, I really enjoyed this novel. It had a supernatural streak to it that I found fun and mysterious. I could relate to all of the characters in one way or another, and although I found the ending to be a little bit rushed, I would recommend The Sugar Queen to anyone who is a fan of quirky, light novels.


  1. quirky and light... perfect description! welcome to the kitchen reader :)

  2. I"m always on the hunt for a good light book. Plus I'm kind of quirky and fancy myself as a sugar queen. Thanks for the review :)

  3. Ali, welcome to the group. :) I found this to be a fun read, a bit unbelievable in parts, though. I think the ending was not too surprising. I'm glad you liked it.

  4. Welcome! I think most of us agreed that it was a nice light read and a welcome change, even if it wasn't the Best Book Ever.


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