Fletcher Dukes and Altovise Benson reunite after decades apart--and a mountain of secrets--in this debut exploring the repercussions of a single choice and how an enduring talisman challenges and holds a family together.
On a routine trip to the Piggly Wiggly in Albany, Georgia, widower Fletcher Dukes smells a familiar perfume, then sees a tall woman the color of papershell pecans with a strawberry birthmark on the nape of her neck. He knows immediately that she is his lost love, Altovise Benson. Their bond, built on county fairs, sit-ins, and marches, once seemed a sure and forever thing. But their marriage plans were disrupted when the police turned a peaceful protest violent.
Before Altovise fled the South, Fletcher gave her a peach seed monkey with diamond eyes. As we learn via harrowing flashbacks, an enslaved ancestor on the coast of South Carolina carved the first peach seed, a talisman that, ever since, each father has gifted his son on his thirteenth birthday.
Giving one to Altovise initiated a break in tradition, irrevocably shaping the lives of generations of Dukeses. Recently, Fletcher has made do on his seven acres with his daughter Florida's check-ins, his drop biscuits, and his faithful dog. But as he begins to reckon with long-ago choices, he finds he isn't the only one burdened with unspoken truths.
An indelible portrait of a family, The Peach Seed explores how kin pass down legacies of sorrow, joy, and strength. And it is a parable of how a glimmer of hope as small as a seed can ripple across generations.
Anita Gail Jones is a visual artist and writer born and raised in Albany, Georgia. She is a Hedgebrook alumna, and a 2018-19 Affiliate Artist at The Headlands Center for the Arts. The Peach Seed, her debut novel, was a Novella semi-finalist in a William Faulkner-William Wisdom Creative Writing Competition, and was selected as a 2021 Top Ten Finalist in the PEN/Bellwether Prize for Socially Engaged Fiction.
- Publisher: Henry Holt and Co. (August 1, 2023)
- Language: English
- Hardcover: 448 pages
- ISBN-10: 1250872057
- ISBN-13: 9781250872050
- Item Weight: 15 ounces
- Dimensions: 6.55 x 1.4 x 9.55 inches