Posted in Book Review, Books I have read

The Peacock Summer – Hannah Richell

Contemporary Fiction

An old lady, an older house and peacocks! That alone was tantalising enough for me want to know more, and just look at that stunning cover! So I’m delighted to say this story didn’t disappoint at all, in fact it took me off to a mysterious manor with secrets at its heart.

Maggie is summoned back to her sojourn in Australia to the news that her Grandmother Lillian Oberon has been admitted to hospital. Seeing her beloved Grandmother, the woman who has raised her since she was tiny, begging to be allowed to spend the rest of her days at Cloudesley, her home in the Chiltern Hills, Maggie resolves to be on hand. No matter that what happened before her flight to Australia has made her something of a person non grata in the village of Cloud Green. She’s shocked to find a house has deteriorated further in her absence and is now in dire need of some monetary input, money it appears that simply isn’t available. But a promise is a promise…

As Lillian recovers back at home her mind continually returns to memories of the year 1955 when as a young bride she was dealing with the night terrors, and worse, that her husband Charles suffered with. The entrance of a young artist Jack Fincher brings colour into her life as he spends the summer turning the old nursery into a jewellery box of a room with his Trompe-l’œil designed to show off the treasures of Cloudesley to their best advantage.

For some reason the start to my summer reading has involved quite a few books detailing domestic violence of various degrees and in various time periods and this belongs firmly in that bracket. Lillian is a second wife who believes, or is made to believe that she is inferior to the first. Charles has rages bought on perhaps by the war but Lillian, as is commonly the case, is trapped. Even though by this time divorce was possible Lillian feels compelled to look after Albie, Charles’s son and to ensure that the private care given to her sister is continued. It isn’t always fear that keep those binds so tight. This aspect gives what could otherwise be considered a light read, a darker edge and pleasingly a different angle to this dual time-line read (something that I think makes for the perfect escape to the past whilst keeping the present in focus.)

Maggie’s story whilst more recognisable in many aspects also touches on the darker side. Albie her father has been inconsistent and there is that shadowy event that hasn’t been forgotten, least of all by her.

Not only is this an original tale, full of splendour and visual effects, it is also peopled by those characters that you wish you could meet in real-life. I admired Lillian, wanted to see Jack’s creations and had a certain amount of respect of Maggie’s determination. This is a book where you feel the plotting has been meticulously carried out with none of false tension created by devices clearly planted to spin the mystery out. Yes, I know these are often necessary but it is lovely not to be jolted away from the story with them planted conveniently at the end of each chapter.

I can’t leave this review without admiring the ending, more than that I can’t say without spoiling the book for other readers…

I’d like to say a huge thank you to the publishers Orion who allowed me to read an advance copy of The Peacock Summer. This unbiased review is my thanks to them and the hugely talented Hannah Richell.

First Published UK: 28 June 2018
Publisher: Orion
No of Pages: 400
Genre: Contemporary Fiction
Amazon UK
Amazon US




A book lover who clearly has issues as obsessed with crime despite leading a respectable life

26 thoughts on “The Peacock Summer – Hannah Richell

  1. This sounds terrific, Cleo. The setting, the premise, the characters, all sound appealing. And I like the dual timeline, too. When that sort of timeline is done well, it can be really effective. Little wonder you enjoyed this.


  2. Oh, I do like the sound of this one and not to belabor a point, the cover is beautiful. Really brings to mind the peacock in the name. I’ll watch for this one. You’ve been on a holiday haven’t you? Just to know that you’ve been missed. 🙂


  3. I read and enjoyed another book by this author (The Shadow Year), so I am eager to read more from Richell. The family issues and the beautiful setting draw me in. Thanks for sharing.


  4. I’ve enjoyed a couple of this kind of book recently – not sure what to call the genre. But the slower pace and lack of twists and thrills really works, I think, especially for lazy summer reading. Good to have a Cleo review back in my reader – it’s not the same without you..,. 😉


  5. Dear Hannah, you describe so beautifully the exploration of your grief and the bravery you show, even if only for the sake of your children sometimes. The love you have for Matt gives you strength I’m sure. Hachette here must be so excited about today. Thank you for sharing your words. The characters in the Peacock Summer have such depth and resilience – I wonder how much it changed as you did? Thank you for sharing your words. Julia x


  6. Sounds fantastic, Cleopatra. It reminds me of a Kate Morton in reverse as she is Australian but usually sets her books in the UK, and this one takes us back to Australia. Definitely adding to my Summer TBR list!


  7. It’s amazing how much influence a striking cover can have. i know I’ve read many books due to their covers. It helps that this one also has an ending that worked. Equally as important! Thanks for calling The Peacock Summer to my attention.


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