I was given an eARC of this novel from Fish Out of Water Books and the author in exchange for an honest review.
Trigger Warning: This novel and review discuss the following: relationships, politics, grief, mortality, death.
Goodreads Rating: 4 Stars
I was contacted by Wayne Barton about his novel Peach, and I’d been seeing it all over Instagram- the ‘grammers were loving it. So I was genuinely interested to see what all the hype was about, and very eager to offer a review for Barton and publisher Fish Out of Water Books.
The book starts off introducing an British songwriter named Freddie, who is nearing the prime of his career as he lands in Idaho to work and write songs for Hal, a legendary artist whose career has been slack for years. Hal and Freddie are a little awkward at first in their respect for one another. Hal shows Freddie around the small town (Bliss, population 299) and introduces him to Murphy’s Bar and Grill owner Louise, and her spunky daughter Brooke. In mostly quiet observations, Freddie can see that Hal and Louise have a deep affection for each other, and together with Brooke they are close enough to be family, but something is holding Hal back- something he’s hiding. When the truth is revealed, Louise comes up with a plan that involves Freddie getting to know the real Hal.
In the meantime, through the work with Hal, the small town atmosphere, and the friendships that Freddie makes, he’s able to sort out the all his lady troubles as well as learn about himself and what he truly wants in life.
For me, Peach was a solid read, but there were a few things about the book that made me sit on the fence about it. The pacing of the novel is rather slow- there’s a lot of inner-Freddie thoughts that seem to require a lot of time to cover. There’s also a little redundancy within those thoughts- like, we get it Freddie, you have girl problems, it’s confusing, you are so conflicted…I digress. It’s always hard for me to get behind a character I don’t empathize with.
But aside from that, I did find myself wanting to know what would happen, how things would play out with Hal and Louise, as which girl would finally pull Freddie’s head out of his butt, pardon my french. I liked the setting and could easily imagine Hal’s place, with Freddie and Hal working on songs. I thought the incorporation of the song lyrics was a neat addition, aiding to the plot. The twists in the plot were good, and kept me turning the pages, and there were quite a few lines that I immediate thought, oh, that’s a good quote.
Peach is definitely one to look for on the bookshelves if you like a slow burning drama, and in the end, I can completely understand the hype.
*Added after original posting*
As I posted this to my social media shortly after I published this review, I got a little insight on the character of Freddie from the author, as well as notified that this wasn’t a self-published novel, as I originally thought. I immediately rectified the publisher note, but also wanted to share his comment and my reply:
Thanks so much for your review. I appreciate that Freddie isn’t a character for everyone; in fact I knew his introspection and deliberate would prove frustrating to some. It was important for me that he had these issues as I wanted the reader to view the characters as humans and not plot devices. I truly appreciate the time you took to read Peach and the kind words you said about it. (One note – although i have no issue with self-published books, it would be doing my publisher @fowbooks a huge disservice if I didn’t point out they in fact published Peach! I am deeply grateful for them taking a chance on it) 🙂🙂
@waynesbarton Oh I will definitely correct that about your publisher! I’m so sorry about that- I want to give credit where credit is due!! But I absolutely get that about Freddie- I may not have jived with him, but I felt that he as well as your other main characters were very realistic. I think my favorite was Hal- he had so many great lines!
TL/DR: Peach by Wayne Barton is a novel about a songwriter who gets to work with a legend aiming to make a comeback.
Read it? Yes.
Recommend it? Yes, to certain readers.
Buy it? Definitely! If you’re into poetry, add this to your collection.