Review: Hannah Richell’s ‘The Peacock Summer’
The Peacock Summer
Two summers, decades apart. Two women whose lives are forever entwined. And a house that holds the secrets that could free them both.
At twenty-six, Lillian feels ancient and exhausted. Her marriage to Charles Oberon has not turned out the way she thought it would. To her it seems she is just another beautiful object captured within the walls of Cloudesley, her husband’s Chilterns manor house. But, with a young step-son and a sister to care for, Lillian accepts there is no way out for her. Then Charles makes an arrangement with an enigmatic artist visiting their home and her world is turned on its head.
Maggie Oberon ran from the hurt and resentment she caused. Half a world away, in Australia, it was easier to forget, to pretend she didn’t care. But when her grandmother, Lillian, falls ill she must head back to Cloudesley. Forced to face her past, she will learn that all she thought was real, all that she held so close, was never as it seemed.
AusRom Today review:
Everything about The Peacock Summer subtly announces itself as a novel that defines and defies. From the exquisite detailing embossed on its cover; perfectly balanced colouring, typography, and imagery through to the delicately woven story within. The Peacock Summer is simply divine.
Richell has developed a cast of characters, central of all being the Cloudesley manor, all of whom you endear to easily in one way or another. Richell captures perfectly the dichotomy of good and bad that each of us has. Charles, arguably the most unlikable of all the characters, was portrayed fairly; his positives shon and his negatives explained and through Richell’s guidance even understandable. Similarly Lillian who could easily be described as saintly is given the Richell treatment. Her perceived flaws, most notably her infidelity, are delicately and thoughtfully presented. Maggie, Lillian’s granddaughter, is no more or less complex than her grandmother albeit her challenges and platforms are obviously different, showing somewhat perfectly that the fundamental difficulties faced by women are reasonably consistent across the generations. None of us are truly good nor truly bad and this aspect of the characterisation is possibly the strongest and most compelling aspect of the story. The metaphoric link between the crumbling Cloudesley manor, the cast, and their secrets was an elegant touch and presented flawlessly.
Richell has crafted a story that defined a time not-that-long past with an ensemble of characters who throughout defied the expectations of the time to withstand and prevail over their own life choices.
The Peacock Summer put simply is exquisite.
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