REVIEW: The Girl Who Chased the Moon by Sarah Addison Allen
Dear Ms. Allen:
I’ve wanted to read you for a long time and when this book was hand delivered to me when I was in NY, I felt like I had no excuses but to read it. I’ll tell you that it was a lifesaver. As I spent almost 10 hours at La Guardia due to weather complications, at least I had a good book to read.
Emily Benedict was brought to live with her grandfather in a small town of Mullaby, North Carolina. It’s a town of oddities. Her grandfather is almost eight feet tall. Her bedroom wallpaper changes, frequently. Everyone has its secrets. Her mother was involved in something scandalous involving the Coffey family, so scandalous that the townspeople’s long memories have pegged Emily as an outcast before she even has time to set foot in Mullaby. But people’s recollections of Emily’s mom don’t fit with the social do gooder that her mom was before she died. What Emily comes to realize was that she was her mother’s chance at redemption.
Her neighbor, Julia Winterson, befriends Emily. Even though Emily’s mom was one of Julia’s high school tormenters, Julia recognizes loneliness when she sees it and it radiates from Emily. This story is all about second chances. It’s about Emily’s mom’s second chance lived through Emily. It’s about the Win Coffey defying his family’s orders to give his people a second chance. It’s about Julia, who bakes her cakes for a lost love and not the most recognizable loss either.
Like most romance books, this one has its happy ever after, for Julia and for Emily. With all the reconciliations and redemptions, the story had several opportunities to be too sugary but the writing kept it from falling into the treacly sentimentality. In part, I suppose, because the characters had all suffered so tremendously that a little happiness was something that they all needed.
It’s a lighthearted read for all the serious subjects that it contained. I was suprised, too, at how recognizable some of the romance elements were such as Emily and Win Coffey’s instant connection (soul mates anyone) or Julia’s old romance with the high school golden boy when she was the high school outcast. I wish some of the themes had been taken a little farther, given it a little more depth. For example, there was a thread about the sins of the father being revisited on Emily and her new friend, Win Coffey, but it wasn’t addressed in any significant way. It’s like Emiliy being befriended by Julia and then Win made the years of resentment melt away.
At times, though, I wondered if the eccentricities of the townpeople were taken too far. Why was it that the bedroom wallpaper changed? How did it come to be? Why was that, on top of everything, necessary? Was the Coffey secret too–Twilightish?
I enjoyed this story and believe, based on the prose and the feel to the book that I’ll like your others too. Thank you to the book fairy that gave me this book. B
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Fictionwise | Books on Board only the audio version
Proviso: Apparently Random House hasn’t reduced the ebook price for this book yet but the trade paperback was supposed to be published on the 16th of March so hopefully the prices will have reduced by the time this review goes up.
Had you read Ms. Allen’s previous books, Jane? (I’ll admit I didn’t read your review because I’m waiting for this book at the library and I don’t want to be spoiled!)
I really like her voice, and Southern quirky characters, well, I’m totally there.
@Jana J. Hanson: I had not. I actually had a copy of her last book in my house during last year’s DABWAHA when her book was nominated (or maybe that was the year before). Anyway, I paged through it and was surprised at how romance-y it was but I never read her.
The “handselling” worked on me!
As for spoilers, I have to tell you I was surprised by the PW review on Amazon, giving away something that I thought was a kind of integral part of the book. It just goes to show how truly difficult it is to write a review without any spoilers at all. I think the best I ever did was with Joanna Bourne’s book, The Spymaster’s Lady, but even that was a huge struggle.
I read both of her other books last year. I loved Garden Spells – it’s sweet, gentle, and slightly magical. I wasn’t quite as wild about The Sugar Queen. The writing was just as good, but the story didn’t grab me. This one sounds more like Garden Spells so I’m looking forward to reading it.
Garden Spells became my #1 gift-giving book because it’s such a lovely story with gentle characters, a touch of magic and just such lovely writing.
Sugar Queen was good and had special moments but was also a touch uneven.
This book is on it’s way from Amazon (my book giving fairies…)
And just as an aside: these ebook prices are killing me! I went to Fictionwise to buy this and Louisa Edwards newest and the prices were ridiculous. Instead I’m buying print books. Such a let-down.
Lovely review. I’ve got this on my nightstand and will be starting it soon. I loved both her previous books, though I think I’m in the minority in preferring THE SUGAR QUEEN. I thought it was absolutely delightful and really connected with both female characters.
I agree with Angie, I actually preferred THE SUGAR QUEEN as well. Garden Spells was great and was what pulled me into her style, but THE SUGAR QUEEN gets reread on the regular.
I also love the touch of fantasy in all of her books that don’t seem out of place enough though logically they should be a bit jarring.
Great review, definitely going to look for this one.
I just finished this book tonight. A friend gave me Garden Spells and I fell in love with Allen’s way of creating such unique worlds. It seems really effortless, although at a certain point in this book, I also wondered if she had gone too far with too many eccentricities.
The book still worked for me though. I loved it, but I do wish she had spent a little more time with Julia and Sawyer. Their story is the one I’m still thinking about.
Allen is definitely one of my must read authors.
I can’t wait to get my hands on this book, having really enjoyed both of her previous books!
I preferred The Sugar Queen to Garden Spells too, though I did enjoy them both. I’m looking forward to this book too. Ms. Allen is one of my auto-reads.
Did not know you read this. Will go buy now.