Have you read anything by her? I might have missed her entirely if it hadn’t been for a chance recommendation from a friend (not even a terribly close friend)! A girl in my more-formal book club introduced me to Garden Spells about the same time as The Sugar Queen was coming out, and I really, really enjoyed both of them. Their touches of quirky magic add delightfully to the stories without overwhelming the plots, and I thoroughly related to characters in both of them. (I enjoyed them SO much that I bought Garden Spells for my sister when she was in the middle of a move and stressed out, hooking her as well.)
When The Girl Who Chased the Moon came out, I picked it for my less-formal book club before I’d even read it. (I hooked more than one friend in that book club as well.) I related less to the characters in that one, but it wasn’t any less of a book because of that. (Kind of like Lily’s Crossing, by Patricia Reilly Giff–an author I adore, by the way–which was a Newbery Honor book, but whose main character wasn’t as sympathetic to me personally as, well, ANY of her others.) The Peach Keeper was a treat–reminding me, very vaguely, of The Help in spots–and I’m pleased to announce that I very much enjoyed the new one, Lost Lake, as well. (By new, you understand, I mean ‘it came out in January and I just now read the library copy I received 2 1/2 weeks ago.’) It felt a little different than SAA’s other books, but that’s probably only natural…its publication was delayed while she was treated for breast cancer. I imagine that would change your outlook on life, right?
I have to say, I rather enjoyed the ‘ensemble cast’ feel. The stars of the book weren’t really so obviously stars, and so many of the supporting characters seemed more like main characters than not. (I don’t know why, but I kept thinking of Beth Hoffman’s Looking for Me while I was reading it. Something stylistic, perhaps?) The magical elements in this one were more subtle, and while that worked, I did slightly miss the magical family traits of her earlier novels. It still hooked me right away, though–and kept me reading–and left me satisfied at the end. What else could you want from a book?