Josey Cirrini is sure of three things: winter is her favorite season, she’s a sorry excuse for a Southern belle, and sweets are best eaten in the privacy of her 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 her closet harboring Della Lee Baker, a local waitress who is one part nemesis—and two parts fairy godmother. With Della Lee’s tough love, Josey’s narrow existence quickly expands. She even bonds with Chloe Finley, a young woman who is hounded by books that inexplicably appear when she needs them—and who has a close connection to Josey’s longtime crush. Soon Josey is living in a world where the color red has startling powers, and passion can make eggs fry in their cartons. And that’s just for starters.
Josey is a 27 year old woman, living in her mother’s house, trapped into waiting on her elderly mother around town and knowing that her mother hates her – holding her to unachievable or unwanted standards (for instance telling her to throw out the red jumper or blue scarf that everyone else tells her suits her).
Having driven her mother to and from the day’s appointments, Josey returns to her room, only to find Della Lee Baker sitting in her closet, going through her hidden stash of sweets and candy. Della Lee is a waitress (with a line in prostitution and petty theft) who is apparently hiding in the closet for one reason or another, including to escape from her cheating boyfriend Julian.
Over the next few weeks, Della Lee manipulates Josey into talking to the local postman (who she has fancied from the first time she saw him); she goes out to parties and (gasp!) wears makeup; spends more time than she has previously out of the house, much to her mother’s consternation; meets up with Chloe, who has recently split up with her boyfriend, and Chloe is hounded by books who have a habit of turning out at the most annoying times; putting her mother back in touch with the man she had an affair with 40 years previously.
Josey also begins to find that her now dead father did not deserve the pedestal she had put him on – he had multiple affairs and Josey ends up meeting at least two people in the local area that are (probably) results of these dalliances. It also gives her some insight into why her mother is the way that she is.
This is a gentle coming of age book, with several female leads, with a level of romance and magical realism. It’s not terribly demanding, but is a gentle and sweet read, with a smattering of humour.
About this author
New York Times Bestselling novelist Sarah Addison Allen brings the full flavor of her southern upbringing to bear on her fiction — a captivating blend of magical realism, heartwarming romance, and small-town sensibility.
Born and raised in Asheville, North Carolina, in the heart of the Blue Ridge Mountains, Allen grew up with a love of books and an appreciation of good food (she credits her journalist father for the former and her mother, a fabulous cook, for the latter). In college, she majored in literature — because, as she puts it, “I thought it was amazing that I could get a diploma just for reading fiction. It was like being able to major in eating chocolate.”