Cobbler Recipes and Where Wild Peaches Grow

Welcome to the latest TLC Book Tour stop for Where Wild Peaches Grow by Cade Bentley.

You can see all my TLC reviews here.

About the book:

 Paperback: 301 pages

Publisher: Lake Union Publishing (August 30, 2022)

In a deeply emotional novel of family, cultural heritage, and forgiveness, estranged sisters wrestle with the choices they’ve made and confront circumstances beyond their control.

Nona “Peaches” Davenport, abandoned by the man she loved and betrayed by family, left her Natchez, Mississippi, home fifteen years ago and never looked back. She’s forged a promising future in Chicago as a professor of African American Studies. Nona even finds her once-closed heart persuaded by a new love. But that’s all shaken when her father’s death forces her to return to everything she’s tried to forget.

Julia Curtis hasn’t forgiven her sister for deserting the family. Just like their mother, Nona walked away from Julia when she needed her most. And Julia doesn’t feel guilty for turning to Nona’s old flame, Marcus, for comfort. He helped Julia build a new life. She has a child, a career, and a determination to move on from old family wounds.

Upon Nona’s return to Natchez, a cautious reunion unfolds, and everything Nona and Julia thought they knew–about themselves, each other, and those they loved–will be tested. Unpacking the truth about why Nona left may finally heal their frayed bond–or tear it apart again, forever.

About the author:

Cade Bentley is a novelist and editor who is also published as Wall Street Journal and USA Today bestselling author Abby L. Vandiver, as well as Abby Colette. When she isn’t writing, Cade enjoys spending time with her grandchildren. She resides in South Euclid, Ohio.

What I Thought…

There is family drama in this novel and that is expected after you have  family members that choose not to speak for twenty years.   The major conflict is between the two sisters, Julia and Nona (Peaches) but within each of their own lives, there’s just as much relationship chaos.  Both sisters also have told lies, either to themselves or their family (or both).   Despite all of these things, I still found them to be relatable (because who doesn’t have family conflict?).  I was drawn more to Julia though.  I just can’t believe that Nona would NEVER contact her sister.  That part of the story was totally hard to grasp.

Julia is the sister that stayed at home to take care of her grandmother and father and raise a son.  Nona “escapes” to the big city and establishes a life as an academic.

The descriptions that Bentley conjures up in words are lovely.  As Nona drives back into her hometown after twenty years of exile, she is washed by a breeze conjuring up her history:

…the scent of cut grass, the pungent odor of carriage horses, and the smoky aroma of meat grilling out back of a barbeque joint somewhere blocks away. (55)

Another description that Bentley nails is that of a funeral:

Among tears and smiles and the heavy scent of fragrant roses and sweet lilies, people mingled, offering condolences and memories, a dance coordinating with the organ music piped from the speakers on the walls. (147)

I had the hardest time with Sanganette, a family friend (but is she).  I could not fathom how Julia was able to stomach this racist revisionist.  That she was depicted as an elementary school teacher nauseated me.

Other conundrums revolved around Nona.  If she was such an accomplished African-American scholar, why had she never visited the Civil Rights Museum in Jackson?  I was also confused about her change in character, one from the head strong “Peaches” that everyone knew in Natchez to the more timid professor from Chicago.

In spite of my issues with these two characters, Bentley’s writing kept me going.

Final review:  3.5.

The Food:

The title is an allusion to the wild peaches that grow in The Devil’s Punch Bowl.   In 1865, freed former slaves made their way to Natchez which quickly grew from a population of 10,000 to almost 100,000 people. An encampment was established in a bluffed area that geographically made escape difficult, almost a pit, and the new residents of Natchez were forced there to die in another brutal captivity. Today, wild peach groves grow here but no one eats of them because of this horrendous incident.  I encourage you to research this humanitarian calamity for yourself.

I wish I had researched this history before I read the novel.  It would have helped.  In fact, adding a brief history of this place at the beginning of the novel would have helped the plot along.

This novel is set in Natchez, Mississippi and as with other Southern novels, there’s lots of food.  There’s a fateful peach pie from the opening of the novel followed by other good hometown food like sweet tea, cobbler, red velvet cake, BBQ, fried chicken, banana pudding, macaroni and cheese, collards, string beans with ham hocks, corn bread, and punch.   Bentley writes about “bereavement food,” the food that neighbors bring over by the truckload to help a family in grief:  spaghetti, spiral cut ham, casseroles, deviled eggs (94).

I thought about making a peach something but I couldn’t get past the history of the Devil’s Punch Bowl.  Instead, I decided to highlight a few cobbler recipes from the archives.

Blackberry Cobbler in a Skillet

Spiced Peach Cobbler with Sourdough Topping for TLC Book Tour and Glory Road

 Please check out the others on the tour:

Monday, August 15th: @bookishcatsavant

Monday, August 15th: @inspired.j.reads

Monday, August 15th: @bookitqueen

Tuesday, August 16th:  @suethebookie

Wednesday, August 17th: @nurse_bookie

Thursday, August 18th: on TikTok

Thursday, August 18th: @shobizreads

Friday, August 19th: @backporchpages

Saturday, August 20th: @aneedleinmybookstack

Monday, August 22nd: @webreakforbooks

Monday, August 22nd:

Tuesday, August 23rd: @4_the_love_of_books

Wednesday, August 24th:@girlsinbooks

Wednesday, August 24th: @subakka.bookstuff

Wednesday, August 24th: @katieneedsabiggerbookshelf

Thursday, August 25th: @the.caffeinated.reader

Friday, August 26th: @the_reading_bee

Saturday, August 27th: @inquizitivekatbooks on TikTok

Monday, August 29th: @thisbrownegirlreads

Monday, August 29th: IG: @never_withouta_book TT: @never_withouta_book

Tuesday, August 30th: @shook_sbooks

Tuesday, August 30th: @bourgeoisiebookworm on TikTok

Wednesday, August 31st: @celiarecommends

Thursday, September 1st:

Friday, September 2nd: @patchespapercut on TikTok

Tuesday, September 6th: @tarheelreader

Wednesday, September 7th: @andrea.c.lowry.reads

Sunday, September 11th: @booksandcoffeemx


Monday, August 15th: @blackbiracialandbookish

Tuesday, August 16th: @karendeeandabc

Wednesday, August 17th: @merewordsinarizona

Thursday, August 18th: @booksnbikram

Friday, August 19th: @hoardingbooks.herdingcats

Saturday, August 20th: @welovebigbooksandwecannotlie

Monday, August 22nd: Lit and Life

Monday, August 22nd: @mississippimomreads

Tuesday, August 23rd: IG: @bookish_afrolatina and TT: @bookish_afrolatina 

Tuesday, August 23rd: @runhideandread

Wednesday, August 24th: @wonderousreads

Thursday, August 25th: @whatkarinareads

Friday, August 26th: @bookn.all.night

Monday, August 29th: Run Wright

Wednesday, August 31st: Eliot’s Eats

Thursday, September 1st: Kahakai Kitchen

Tuesday, September 6th: Books and Bindings


I’m linking up with August’s Foodies Read.

1 comment to Cobbler Recipes and Where Wild Peaches Grow

  • mae

    Interesting review — you highlight both the strengths and the weaknesses of this book, which is useful. It’s peach season so I don’t want to know anything bad about peaches.

    best… mae at