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The Peacock Summer

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Set in a fading family estate nestled within the Chiltern Hills, this is the story of two summers, sixty years apart, woven together to reveal one dramatic family story.


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Set in a fading family estate nestled within the Chiltern Hills, this is the story of two summers, sixty years apart, woven together to reveal one dramatic family story.

30 review for The Peacock Summer

  1. 3 out of 5

    Brenda

    Lillian was a naïve young woman of twenty-one when the wealthy and aristocratic Charles Oberon asked for her hand in marriage. She only had her beloved sister Helene to care for, and Charles assured her he would take care of her needs. Lillian loved Charles’ six-year-old son, Albie and in her innocence, thought she could make a difference to the man who had lost so much. Living in the Chilterns manor house, Cloudesley, Lillian began to feel trapped and caged – but she had no choice. This was her Lillian was a naïve young woman of twenty-one when the wealthy and aristocratic Charles Oberon asked for her hand in marriage. She only had her beloved sister Helene to care for, and Charles assured her he would take care of her needs. Lillian loved Charles’ six-year-old son, Albie and in her innocence, thought she could make a difference to the man who had lost so much. Living in the Chilterns manor house, Cloudesley, Lillian began to feel trapped and caged – but she had no choice. This was her life and her future with a damaged and volatile husband. The summer that Charles hired a young artist to do a commission for him in one of the rooms of the manor became a changing point in Lillian’s life. Lillian was twenty-six, exhausted and robotic in her endeavours to keep her husband happy. The constant parties where she needed to impress drained the life from her – it was only Albie who kept her sane. But then Jack arrived… Almost sixty years later, Maggie Oberon, Lillian’s granddaughter, was in Australia when she received the phone call to say her beloved grandmother had taken ill. Immediately rushing to be by her side, Maggie knew she would face aggression and censure over the events of her leaving twelve months prior. But her priority was Lillian. She had raised Maggie – and Maggie owed her everything. But Cloudesley was falling into ruin – the repairs the old manor needed were too many to be attempted; the debts insurmountable. What would Maggie do? As the past slowly came to light, Maggie found it only created more questions. Would she be able to decipher the secrets of Cloudesley, or would the manor keep them hidden for all time? The long awaited new novel from Aussie author Hannah Richell does not disappoint. The Peacock Summer, apart from having a divine cover, is a heartbreaking and heartfelt story of love, loss and dark secrets. The answer to one of the questions when it came, was a shock – I didn’t see it coming! Poignant, intriguing and utterly captivating, The Peacock Summer is one I have no hesitation in highly recommending. With thanks to Hachette AU for my copy to read and review.

  2. 3 out of 5

    Pauline

    The Peacock Summer by Hannah Richell is a very atmospheric novel about a beautiful old mansion now crumbling and in need of repair and the secrets that it holds. Maggie comes home from Australia to look after her grandmother Lillian. The old lady has been in hospital and is confused to whether she is living in the past or present. She remembers the time of her unhappy marriage and a young painter who came to work for her husband. This is the first book I have read by this author and I will be lo The Peacock Summer by Hannah Richell is a very atmospheric novel about a beautiful old mansion now crumbling and in need of repair and the secrets that it holds. Maggie comes home from Australia to look after her grandmother Lillian. The old lady has been in hospital and is confused to whether she is living in the past or present. She remembers the time of her unhappy marriage and a young painter who came to work for her husband. This is the first book I have read by this author and I will be looking for more of her books. I would like to thank NetGalley and Orion Publishing for my e-copy in exchange for an honest review.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Amanda - Mrs B's Book Reviews

    *https://mrsbbookreviews.wordpress.com Graceful. This is the perfect word to describe Hannah Richell’s latest and third release, The Peacock Summer. The writing is celestial, the characters defining and the narrative irresistible. It is all set to a stirring stage, a crumbling old manor house on an English estate. The Peacock Summer is a tale that does not give up its secrets so easily, but when they are revealed, readers will bask in the glory of the love, passion, heartbreak and tragedy that be *https://mrsbbookreviews.wordpress.com Graceful. This is the perfect word to describe Hannah Richell’s latest and third release, The Peacock Summer. The writing is celestial, the characters defining and the narrative irresistible. It is all set to a stirring stage, a crumbling old manor house on an English estate. The Peacock Summer is a tale that does not give up its secrets so easily, but when they are revealed, readers will bask in the glory of the love, passion, heartbreak and tragedy that befalls the players of The Peacock Summer. Personally, this is my favourite type of novel and this one is a beauty. Two summers, decades apart defines the enmeshed lives of two women who are both linked to a manor with long held secrets to expose. In the past, Lillian feels frustrated by her marriage to Charles. Her marriage is not what she expected, in fact, Lillian often feels like a pawn, Charles can do and say what he likes with Lillian. Lillian knows she has no form of escape from her unhappy marriage, there are expectations and obligations she must adhere to. However, Lillian’s world is forever changed when Charles commissions a piece of art to be produced in his grand home of Cloudesley. The artist charged with the task has a significant impact on Lillian’s life. Years down the track Lillian’s granddaughter Maggie makes a return visit to Cloudesley, following the news that her grandmother has fallen gravely ill. It is a time of great awakening for Maggie, as she realises that in returning to Cloudesley and attending to her grandmother’s affairs, she must settle a bevy of secrets from the past. The Peacock Summer hails the return of Hannah Richell. Richell’s much anticipated third novel is polished, dainty and refined. The embossed gold title, along with the front, back and inside cover art is so visually pleasing. These cover aesthetics set the scene for the magnificent tale to come, where art and peacocks do feature within this involving story, along with a whole host of other events. Richell is a master of the two-fold style of narrative. I felt nothing but comfort in the arms of Richell’s writing and her narrative approach. Richell achieves the perfect equilibrium in terms of the presentation of her past (mid 1950’s) and present day narratives. Both were a joy to read, the pages seemed to float away. I appreciated that this was a modern day style fiction tale, with one of the storylines based in the 1950’s, an era from our not too distant past. Characterisation is clearly one of Richell’s many talents. I loved her approach to all the characters in this novel. There are some endearing protagonists in The Peacock Summer, along with some disheartening players. Richell is bold in her approach to her character set and their related arcs. We witness their moments of elation and despair. In all instances emotions are felt at a high level. Lillian, the central character of the novel, is touched with so much clarity, that I felt as if I had stepped into her shoes and faced the problems she was dealing with, thanks to Richell’s prose. This also extends to her granddaughter Maggie, my heart ached for both these women, in different ways. Richell is a very skilled writer, a rarity, who is able to successfully draw out the finite details, as well as the contrast between the sombre and light moments within her writing. This takes great talent, but Richell seems to take this in her stride, effortlessly issuing her reader with a deep psychological sketch of her characters and the binds they are placed in. I was able to draw out many resonating themes from this novel, from the value of family, secrets, artistry, passion, betrayal, emotional abuse and reconciling the past with the present. I feel readers will want to remain loyal to this novel from the first to the parting line. The audience is rewarded with a final curtain call that offers a sense of settlement or understanding to all the strands of the novel. I cannot close this review without mentioning the looming presence of Cloudesley, the estate and home of the lead character Lillian. It has such presence in the novel that it is the most influential factor in the creating overall unique aura of The Peacock Summer. An aging estate, a family mystery, flawed protagonists, heartbreak and passion are all ignited in this victorious new tale from Hannah Richell. I highly recommend The Peacock Summer to all passionate readers. *Please note that a free copy of this book was provided to me for review purposes through Beauty & Lace and Hachette Australia. To read the original review on the Beauty & Lace website please visit here http://bookgirl.beautyandlace.net/boo... The Peacock Summer, is book #84 of the Australian Women Writers Challenge.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Blair

    Hannah Richell's third novel centres, as her others have, on a house. Cloudesley is a grand country manor, home to the Oberon family. Lillian Oberon, now in her late eighties, has recently had a fall and suffered a kidney infection – she needs rest, and can't bear the thought of recuperating anywhere other than Cloudesley. Her granddaughter Maggie has spent the past year in Australia, and when she comes back to care for Lillian, she finds the house in dire need of repairs nobody in the family ca Hannah Richell's third novel centres, as her others have, on a house. Cloudesley is a grand country manor, home to the Oberon family. Lillian Oberon, now in her late eighties, has recently had a fall and suffered a kidney infection – she needs rest, and can't bear the thought of recuperating anywhere other than Cloudesley. Her granddaughter Maggie has spent the past year in Australia, and when she comes back to care for Lillian, she finds the house in dire need of repairs nobody in the family can afford. It doesn't help that, for reasons relating to a past relationship, Maggie isn't much liked in the village of Cloud Green. The presence of her former friend (and brother of her ex), Will, makes things even more awkward. Meanwhile, Lillian is consumed by memories of her past. In particular, a fateful postwar summer when her husband, Charles, commissioned artist Jack Fincher to paint an elaborate mural in one of the rooms at Cloudesley. Flashbacks to 1955 entwine with Maggie's present, illuminating the parallels in the two women's lives, and how both have been shaped by their family history. The Peacock Summer is not afraid to take its time; these pages, especially the historical chapters, are immersive and rich with detail. Maggie and Lillian's facets and flaws are handled brilliantly. This is an eminently readable story that refuses to sacrifice depth (of character, of emotion). There are a few gentle plot twists, but the surprises I appreciated the most were found in the moments Richell swerved predictable happy endings. How can a book be both heartbreaking and as comforting as sinking into a warm, fluffy duvet? I don't know, but this one pulls it off and makes it look effortless. I'm not ashamed to say there were tears pricking my eyes when I got to the end. The Peacock Summer is a delicious indulgence, a great big salted caramel truffle of a book. Absolutely perfect holiday reading; a story to get delightfully lost in. I received an advance review copy of The Peacock Summer from the publisher through NetGalley. TinyLetter | Twitter | Instagram | Tumblr

  5. 5 out of 5

    Thebooktrail

    Old gothic house Secret rooms Secrets inside the walls Dual time line story One visitor to the house changes everything A summer read to savour! Visit the locations in the novel - Visit Cloudesley Manor in the Chiltern Hills I loved this book from the start. The cover is gorgeous too I should add and perfectly frames the story inside. Where do I start with this review? Recommended reading if you enjoy family mysteries set over decades and all revealing themselves in large gothic houses with secret room Old gothic house Secret rooms Secrets inside the walls Dual time line story One visitor to the house changes everything A summer read to savour! Visit the locations in the novel - Visit Cloudesley Manor in the Chiltern Hills I loved this book from the start. The cover is gorgeous too I should add and perfectly frames the story inside. Where do I start with this review? Recommended reading if you enjoy family mysteries set over decades and all revealing themselves in large gothic houses with secret rooms…. And the peacocks! From the real ones wandering the grounds to the ice sculptured ones melting at the end of the warm summer’s evening party, the descriptive writing both of them, their cries, and the rustling in the woods as they came upon characters talking in secret…. beautiful The house is called Cloudelsey and it sits atop the Chiltern Hills….glorious! This is the book to sit by the fire with or out beside a fountain if you can. Stretch out your toes and immerse yourself in luscious evocative writing. The house comes to life from the page via its creaking stairs, the wooden bannisters, the maze of rooms and corridors, the noises of the peacocks and the vast expanse of the gardens. That’s even before you get to the large secret room locked up for years and reopened for…well you’ll have to read it and see. The characters are what made this book for me. Lillian in particular with her secrets and way she recounts her life. A woman I would love to meet in real life! She’d be fascinating. And then there’s the visitor who comes to the house and changes Lillian’s life and the lives of those around them for ever. Then years, later Lillian’s granddaughter start to put the pieces of the puzzle together. The two stories come together very nicely indeed Recommended!

  6. 4 out of 5

    Theresa Smith Writes

    The Peacock Summer is a brilliantly atmospheric story of illusion and heartbreak, orbiting around an illustrious English estate filled with priceless treasures and the darkest of secrets. While I was tempted to simply devour this novel, I slowed down and lingered over it, because it’s that sort of story, where you want to just immerse yourself for as long as possible, so elegant was the writing and so consuming was the story. The house itself, Cloudesley, had a presence all of its own, Hannah Ri The Peacock Summer is a brilliantly atmospheric story of illusion and heartbreak, orbiting around an illustrious English estate filled with priceless treasures and the darkest of secrets. While I was tempted to simply devour this novel, I slowed down and lingered over it, because it’s that sort of story, where you want to just immerse yourself for as long as possible, so elegant was the writing and so consuming was the story. The house itself, Cloudesley, had a presence all of its own, Hannah Richell’s beautifully descriptive prose breathing life into this inanimate fixture: “She runs a hand over the huge, faded tapestry hanging across the wall – then turns to climb the curved staircase to her own room. Halfway up she stops and listens. There is no scrabble of dog paws on the tiled floor, no shuffle of newspaper pages from the library, no distant murmur from her grandmother’s radio. There is nothing; not even the glug of water moving through old pipes. This house, that has witnessed so much throughout the years – dinner parties and laughter, conversation and arguments, dancing and music – a house that has seen so much life, had so many people pass through its doors, stands utterly silent. It is unnerving to be its only occupant. What echoes would she hear – what stirrings from the past – if she only knew what to listen for?” Stories revolving around houses and the mysteries from the past contained within their walls have always been a favourite of mine and Cloudesly guarded its secrets well. For the most part, this story broke my heart. Lillian was such a beautiful young woman but life had dealt her a very unfortunate hand. Had she been more of a selfish woman, she would have undoubtedly suffered less, yet it was her capacity for love and her unselfish nature that made her who she was. The Peacock Summer is a dark story, far darker than I anticipated, and it’s all the more absorbing because of it. “…her marriage to Charles is a complicated, volatile landscape. There are so many unspoken rules; so many uncertain dictates; so many fluctuating emotions to anticipate and interpret. She knows he has seen too much – lost too much. She does not, for one moment, underestimate the damage he has endured in those unspoken years away at war, followed so closely by the tragic loss of his first wife. She only wishes she were more adept at navigating her life with him, better able to understand the man she now finds herself bound to. For each day she wakes and steps out into the marriage, she feels as though she balances precariously, never quite sure if the ground she steps on is firm or quicksand, sucking her down into one of Charles’s more erratic moods.” My first impression of Charles Oberon was that he was a prized arse. He really was a piece of work, taking great pleasure in publicly humiliating his wife, never failing to remind her that she was at his mercy, the beneficiary of his generosity, nothing without him – the usual misogynistic posturing that can be associated with men who make a hobby out of devaluing women. This behaviour of his extended to his young son, so I quickly formed a picture of Charles Oberon that was not in his favour. Yet as the story progressed, and more of him was revealed, I was horrified by his true nature. He may have suffered trauma in the war, and lost his first wife shortly after, but he was a monster to his family. Coupled with wealth and power, Lillian didn’t stand a chance against him, she was utterly trapped, a fact that she was very much aware of. Charles himself was a complex character; it’s not an easy thing to bring a person with such duality to life on the page. Charismatic and powerful, yet horrendously violent towards his family. Each scene containing Charles was finely drawn out, the tension for the reader mirroring the tension for his family. Hannah Richell kept his volatility entirely unpredictable, heightening the suspense throughout. Through Lillian’s relationship with Albie, Hannah Richell skilfully demonstrated the chains that can bind a woman to an untenable situation. Little Albie broke my heart and I forgave adult Albie much on account of the brutality he not only experienced, but also witnessed, while growing up. There was so much sadness within this family, so much loss, so much anger and devastation, so many wasted years of life; all owing to the tyranny of one man. Maggie, Lillian’s granddaughter, was a bit hit and miss for me. I admired her devotion to Lillian, but I always struggle with sketchy characters who can’t seem to work out what they want so instead of trying to figure it out, they run away and sleep with random strangers. Repeatedly. In Albie, I could see the reason for this, but in Maggie, it appeared self indulgent. There was too much self-flagellation and self-pity initially, but she grew on me a little more by the end. I appreciated how Hannah Richell set the story up for her to uncover the past herself, rather than simply being told by Lillian via a reflective story or by reading diary entries – a little too common in dual timeline historical fiction nowadays for my liking. The way the past unfolded in The Peacock Summer was refreshingly unique. Lillian told Maggie very little about the past, a couple of slips here and there in a moment, but nothing solid. Maggie had to dig for her info, put the pieces together herself. It made her more of an active participant in the story and gave the reader plenty of opportunities to see Maggie’s qualities instead of simply focussing on her past mistakes. While uncovering the secrets of her family and in working towards a solution for saving Cloudesly, Maggie was able to at last find herself, or at least, she began to tread in the right direction for herself rather than directly into the arms of a saviour. She began, by the end of the story, to show signs of being the strong woman Lillian had hoped she could be. I very much enjoyed the positive open ending, it was fitting after such a grave and significant story. “And for the briefest time, Maggie sees her life clearly: all the moments, large and small that have been, and all the ones yet to come, connected by some long, silvery thread, strong yet invisible, like a spider’s web. She feels this singular moment joining to all the rest and finds the thought strangely comforting.” This is one novel where the past and the present were balanced and interwoven with perfection. There were many moments of poignant symmetry between Lillian and Maggie, giving a cohesion to the novel that ensured it was all one story, as opposed to a loosely linked ‘past and present’ tale. The Peacock Summer is a triumph, compelling historical fiction of the highest calibre. The significance of the title and the corresponding design of the double-sided cover is something all readers will appreciate once they’ve reached the end of this hauntingly beautiful novel. Thanks is extended to Hachette Australia for providing me with a copy of The Peacock Summer for review.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Carolyn

    The Peacock Summer by Hannah Richell is an absolutely captivating novel; full of intrigue, imagination and everything beautiful. Summer and peacocks; garden parties; art and murals; music and cocktails. Set in a dual timezone where we venture from the coast of Australia to a beautiful home named Cloudesley in rural England. It does hold some exciting elements; it's cleverly written and a bit of a thriller ~ I felt as if I was watching a movie and asking myself 'what's going to happen next'? Each ti The Peacock Summer by Hannah Richell is an absolutely captivating novel; full of intrigue, imagination and everything beautiful. Summer and peacocks; garden parties; art and murals; music and cocktails. Set in a dual timezone where we venture from the coast of Australia to a beautiful home named Cloudesley in rural England. It does hold some exciting elements; it's cleverly written and a bit of a thriller ~ I felt as if I was watching a movie and asking myself 'what's going to happen next'? Each time surprised... I absolutely loved The Peacock Summer by Hannah Richell and would highly recommend this novel.

  8. 3 out of 5

    Liz Fenwick

    A compelling story of forbidden love and ruined lives...with a house that holds secrets.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Diane

    Haunting, heartbreaking and stunningly beautiful!! Just read it, it is a brilliant work! Thank you Hannah Richell.

  10. 3 out of 5

    Paula Sealey

    This is exactly the kind of book I love to curl up and lose myself in. Incredibly moving and wonderfully told, I just adored this story from the first page to the last. The descriptive prose throughout is so beautiful and the characterisation superb. I was totally drawn into Lillian's story as she recounts her past life at her home 'Cloudesley' (Such a pretty name!). Her granddaughter Maggie is trying to work through issues of her own while caring for a now elderly Lillian and attempting to save This is exactly the kind of book I love to curl up and lose myself in. Incredibly moving and wonderfully told, I just adored this story from the first page to the last. The descriptive prose throughout is so beautiful and the characterisation superb. I was totally drawn into Lillian's story as she recounts her past life at her home 'Cloudesley' (Such a pretty name!). Her granddaughter Maggie is trying to work through issues of her own while caring for a now elderly Lillian and attempting to save 'Cloudesley' from crumbling around them. She has no idea of the history 'Cloudesley' holds for Lillian, especially details of her relationship with Maggie's grandfather Charles and a certain artist who appeared on the scene and changed Lillian's life. I loved Maggie's story and the dilemmas she faced in the present just as much as Lillian's recollections of the past. Both parts came together so well, but it was Lillian's love story and her compassion that captured my heart. I don't usually mention the covers of books, but this one is so gorgeous and makes sense when you have read the story, it certainly lured me in to read the book initially too. I'm really looking forward this authors next work and am going to be downloading her previous books tout suite! *I received a copy of the book from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Tracey Allen at Carpe Librum

    The Peacock Summer by Hannah Richell is the perfect historical fiction novel and I just loved it! Replete with crumbling mansion/estate that has seen better years, the novel is a story about family, secrets and regrets unfolding in a dual narrative. Lillian marries Charles Oberon at the age of 26 and becomes mistress of Cloudesley, a manor house in the Chilterns. Now quite elderly, Lillian's story unfolds in a series of flashbacks. Maggie comes back to Cloudesley to care for her Grandmother Lillia The Peacock Summer by Hannah Richell is the perfect historical fiction novel and I just loved it! Replete with crumbling mansion/estate that has seen better years, the novel is a story about family, secrets and regrets unfolding in a dual narrative. Lillian marries Charles Oberon at the age of 26 and becomes mistress of Cloudesley, a manor house in the Chilterns. Now quite elderly, Lillian's story unfolds in a series of flashbacks. Maggie comes back to Cloudesley to care for her Grandmother Lillian and is forced to face the repercussions and shame of her own actions a year or so ago. I flew through The Peacock Summer and felt as though it was written just for me. Don't you love it when that happens? The pacing was perfect without any dull periods and the writing was so atmospheric I could almost hear the peacocks in the garden with Lillian and trace my finger through the dusty rooms along with Maggie. The Peacock Summer is definitely for fans of Kate Morton and those who enjoy historical fiction. Highly recommended. I'm just sad it's over. * Copy courtesy of Hachette Australia *

  12. 3 out of 5

    Marg

    I have mixed emotions after finishing this book. I am really glad to have read the conclusion but sad to be saying farewell at the same time. I love dual timeline books and this is a good example of why. Such a good read. My favourite book this year so far #aussieauthor #awwc

  13. 4 out of 5

    Elise McCune

    ‘The Peacock Summer’ is just the type of book I love to read. A dual narrative story, it is beautifully written, a tale of intrigue and mystery, and most importantly the characters are brought to life. Cloudesley, the crumbling manor house in England is such a place of secrets that I kept turning the pages of the book until the very end. The character of Lillian was beautifully written, both in the past and the present day, if she stepped through my front door I’d know her immediately. The book ‘The Peacock Summer’ is just the type of book I love to read. A dual narrative story, it is beautifully written, a tale of intrigue and mystery, and most importantly the characters are brought to life. Cloudesley, the crumbling manor house in England is such a place of secrets that I kept turning the pages of the book until the very end. The character of Lillian was beautifully written, both in the past and the present day, if she stepped through my front door I’d know her immediately. The book itself has a lovely cover and art work. Highly recommended.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Emma Crowley

    The stunning cover for the new novel from Hannah Richell - The Peacock Summer instantly draws you in. The beautiful wallpaper inspires curiosity and you wonder how this can be connected to the story if at all? I wanted to venture through the door to discover what lay further on.To identify what the house called Cloudesley was willing to share with us. Right from the opening chapter this book was filled with lyrical, wonderful, descriptive writing that had you enraptured and so caught up in the s The stunning cover for the new novel from Hannah Richell - The Peacock Summer instantly draws you in. The beautiful wallpaper inspires curiosity and you wonder how this can be connected to the story if at all? I wanted to venture through the door to discover what lay further on.To identify what the house called Cloudesley was willing to share with us. Right from the opening chapter this book was filled with lyrical, wonderful, descriptive writing that had you enraptured and so caught up in the story of Maggie and Lillian. The Peacock Summer is a story to savour, one in which the words should be absorbed and cherished as the writing and descriptions are so vivid and beautiful. Allow yourself the time to draw comparisons between the two strands of the story, that of Lillian when one summer will change her life forever and that of her granddaughter Maggie many years later again faced with life altering decisions that need to be made. I did feel this story was very much a grower for me and then around the half way point it became an all consuming read in which I wanted to reach the end as quick as possible to see how everything would pan out. But at the same time there was a reluctance on my part to let these characters go to soon.The story started off slow and steady and maintained a languid, relaxed pace throughout before building to a magnificent finale providing us with a twist that I never saw coming and I doubt many other readers will too. Maggie is in Sydney as far away from England as she possibly can be when she receives a call to say her grandmother Lillian is ill and that she needs to return home to care for her. Maggie had last left the village of Cloud Green and the family home Cloudesley over a year ago. She departed in a blind panic, on a cloud of shame she feels and up until now has had no intention of returning to the place where her grandparents reared her in the absence of her father and mother. Maggie obviously left England for a reason but said reason does not become apparent to the reader for quite some time. There are brief allusions as to the reasons for her leaving and the repercussions and feelings this event has instilled in those left behind. But nothing is definitive or confirmed until Maggie herself feels ready to open up. Her journey will be challenging to navigate and in seeking forgiveness and acceptance she proved to be brave and admirable and so too in the way she cares for Lillian. All through the story I was desperate to know what made Maggie go on the run so to speak I wanted the answers sooner rather than later. Instead the author in a way teases us with snippets but when the reveal came it was more than worth the wait. It was surprising and shocking but when one allows time for reflection it did make sense for Maggie whether you agree with her reasons or not. Having received the phone call baring news no one would wish to hear Maggie makes the ultimate sacrifice and returns home. Lillian had fulfilled her duty to Maggie over many many years and now it is time for Maggie to do the same. Will Cloudesley remain unchanged or is it now on the slippery slope to decay without any hope of it returning to its former glory? Maggie will have to listen to the voices of the past in order to make so many wrongs right in the present. As Maggie arrives home she is shocked by the state of what was once was a magnificent manor house. Yes all the treasures and collectibles gathered by her now departed grandfather Charles are still present but the house and grounds are falling into disrepair. Clearly Lillian has been hiding things and continuing on as if life was normal. But this is not a story about resurrecting a house and keeping it going although that is what Maggie aims to do and there is some focus on this but I am glad it was not the predominant theme. Instead the story was more character driven and as Maggie reacquaints herself with her grandmother, she sees she is a changed woman and not quite the same person who reared her. Maggie and Lillian in a way both live solitary lives despite having a connection to each other and it is delving deeper and exposing and understanding the reasons that form this solitude that form a substantial and important of the story. As we journey back to the past to make sense of the present it was Lillian's story that really had me enthralled. Lillian aged 26, is the second wife of Charles Oberon, who runs his own business whilst also indulging his passion for collecting treasures, things of beauty and items from the arts. Charles' first wife passed away leaving him the sole carer of son Albie. Lillian steps into the mother role and establishes a connection with Albie. She promises to always stand by him, to do her best for him and she believes strongly in the marriage vows she exchanged with Charles. This sense of duty, of keeping promises and never reneging on what has been uttered is what I believe drove Lillian on throughout this story. She was very much in a catch twenty two situation as became quite evident to the reader. It became clear that Charles presented a front to the world but behind closed doors he was a brute and tyrant instilling fear, apprehension and scars on those he should have shown the utmost respect and love for. Lillian became like the peacocks that inhabit the estate, once settled they never leave almost as if they are trapped. Surely there must have been more binding her to the house than simply a connection to Albie once she realised what kind of predicament she had gotten herself into. No matter how loyal and dedicated one is I know myself I would have tried to find some way of escape but Lillian was determined to whether the storm and maybe in doing so an unexpected ray of sunshine and happiness will make an appearance and change the way she views Cloudesley and its inhabitants. As a new character makes themselves known and takes up residence in the manor house and sets upon completion of a task Lillian sees the tides of change turning. She no longer feels the need to keep things bottled up, to live a life of dictation where emotions are repressed. Instead she experiences happiness like no other but how long can these feelings be experienced for as the shadows and secrets of the house encroach further and threaten to upset the apple cart altogether. The story had great light and shade to it, moments of relief and joy and allowing the characters to be free and to be themselves and other points the darkness drew in and was in danger of overtaking everything. There were lots of twists and turns and I never how everything could possibly resolve itself. It's clear both Lillian and Maggie are seeking something which once found will allow them to be free once and for all. But is it too late and is there to much damage done to reconcile everyone and everything once and for all? Hannah Richell through writing such an exceptionally special story has proven what a gifted and talented author she is. It was so beautifully crafted with so much care and attention given to every character, the setting, the imagery, the placement of words in each sentence and the overall meaning the author wanted to convey. The Peacock Summer was a highly impressive read which will leave you longing to read more from this excellent author.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Helen

    I don’t know where to start, this one has left me in awe what a story, a compelling, captivating story, a story of two woman Lillian Oberon and her granddaughter Maggie Oberon related not by blood but by love and caring and a family estate with treasures and secrets and what happens in their lives sixty years apart, this is a story that pulled me in, the characters so alive and genuine I felt their pain and their love, this is a story that you will not want to miss. Lillian lives a quiet life in I don’t know where to start, this one has left me in awe what a story, a compelling, captivating story, a story of two woman Lillian Oberon and her granddaughter Maggie Oberon related not by blood but by love and caring and a family estate with treasures and secrets and what happens in their lives sixty years apart, this is a story that pulled me in, the characters so alive and genuine I felt their pain and their love, this is a story that you will not want to miss. Lillian lives a quiet life in the country after the war with her sister and the wonderful lady who took them in after she lost her mother and father, fate steps in when she is riding her bike one day and she meets Charles Oberon and his young son Albie, Charles is a strong man and a widower it is the 1950’s and soon he is proposing to Lillian. The wedding is small and soon she is living at Cloudesley Manor in the Chiltern Hills, and Lillian is determined to be the best step-mother to Albie and a good wife, she does love Albie but she soon learns that her husband can be a very hard and difficult man to live with and her life is changing. Charles hires a young artist Jack Fincher, during the summer to make over the nursey in the manor he wants this to be very special, but as Jack spends time living at Cloudesley he and Lillian become very close and the world that Lillian knew is turned upside down and there are many hurts to more than one person. Years later Lillian’s granddaughter Maggie arrives at Cloudesley dropped off by her father Albie, she is brought up by Lillian and they are very close, but when Maggie runs from the village years later wanting to leave behind what she has done and arrives in Australia looking for who knows, she just wants to forget, but when her grandmother takes ill Maggie returns to care for the one person she has always loved and felt loved by, this is going to make her face up to a lot of truths and there are a lot of secrets to be unearthed. I did love this story, Lillian what a woman truly a beautiful caring loving person who never thought of herself only of others, living all of those years with her damaged and cruel husband, worrying over Albie and his disappearances, but she will never forget that summer of love with Jack. Then we have Maggie her life with Lillian and her invalid grandfather, a father who was not around much, her best friends from the village and then the shock of returning to Cloudesley and finding the room that helped her discover the truth. MS Richell thank you for a story that is going to stay with me for a long time to come, there were tears and heartbreak but it is beautiful, amazing and one that I highly recommend.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Rachael McDiarmid

    5 stars for the book cover which I think is absolutely beautiful ! 4+ for the book. I very much enjoyed this book, the various story layers, the characters and the settings. I enjoyed Hannah’s writing style which I find very relaxed and easy to read. The story itself isn’t complicated but I found myself let down by the ending slightly in terms of Maggie’s story. I think I wanted more from it. Lillian’s story played out the way I thought it would as did Jack’s, Albie’s and the others. Look, if yo 5 stars for the book cover which I think is absolutely beautiful ! 4+ for the book. I very much enjoyed this book, the various story layers, the characters and the settings. I enjoyed Hannah’s writing style which I find very relaxed and easy to read. The story itself isn’t complicated but I found myself let down by the ending slightly in terms of Maggie’s story. I think I wanted more from it. Lillian’s story played out the way I thought it would as did Jack’s, Albie’s and the others. Look, if you’re looking for an easy to read, uncomplicated story by a very fine writer, you’ve come to the right place.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Shaz Goodwin

    http://www.jerasjamboree.co.uk/2018/0... I loved the format of the storytelling in The Peacock Summer. Lillian, very frail in the present day and being cared for by granddaughter Maggie, flashes back to pivotal events in 1955. The flashbacks are prompted by things such as the flower show or the sound of a car engine which tie in beautifully for a smooth transition between the timelines keeping the flow of the story. There are vast opposites between the opulence of the past to the frugality of the http://www.jerasjamboree.co.uk/2018/0... I loved the format of the storytelling in The Peacock Summer. Lillian, very frail in the present day and being cared for by granddaughter Maggie, flashes back to pivotal events in 1955. The flashbacks are prompted by things such as the flower show or the sound of a car engine which tie in beautifully for a smooth transition between the timelines keeping the flow of the story. There are vast opposites between the opulence of the past to the frugality of the present day both in the way of life and the house itself. Life for Lillian is nothing like she thought it would be – partly because of what happens as a child in WWII and because of her marriage to Charles. Her privileged life is isolated and empty and the only love she receives is from stepson Albie. Despite Charles’ experience of fighting in the war and the loss of his first wife, there really is no excuse for what he does. He is insidious and really got under my skin. It’s a very genteel life on the surface … Lillian has so much strength that she’s not even aware of. I loved her. Jack Fincher arriving for the summer is the best (and worst) thing that could happen. Cloudesley manor house needs some serious renovation in the present day and Maggie is trying to find her way around keeping it for Lillian. Not only that, she needs to confront her own weaknesses and make amends for her actions. Albie is the only parent she has contact with but he’s more absent than present. At 26 years old, a truth she believed in and had lived her life by is “the people you love leave.” As Lillian’s carer she realises: The simplest acts of devotion are often those that send the strongest messages of love. How true! Maggie’s perceptions from her childhood of growing up with Lillian and Charles colour her beliefs about the world and they’re not right. I found myself shouting at her – look below the surface! Don’t take it at face value! There’s more to this than you know! Maggie isn’t the only character who makes mistakes in her perceptions. I had so many questions. Why was the West wing sealed off? What happened to Lillian’s sister? What did Maggie do that she feels so guilty about? How did this happen? Was that him? Did he make that happen? What was she doing with that? Who is watching? I wish I could convey to you the underlying energy, atmosphere and tension of The Peacock Summer. It is suspenseful, poignant, and yes compelling but there’s so much more. It’s a dark and gritty look at humanity. Duty and what should be done (remember this is 1955 when although WWII changed many things, there is still a different set of expectations) conflicts with personal happiness. The Peacock Summer holds its secrets close (one secret I didn’t guess – so I had my own perceptions and took something at face value!) and the emotions I felt while reading are not fleeting. One of my top reads this year and not to be missed.

  18. 3 out of 5

    Leanne Lovegrove

    I didn’t want this novel to end. It’s exquisite. Beautifully written with lovable and flawed characters set over two summers decades apart. There’s the crumbling old manor house in rural England and the long held family secrets. Plus, forbidden love. I simply adored this one and highly recommend it.

  19. 3 out of 5

    AusRomToday

    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 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.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Vanessa Wild

    This is such a lovely story! When her grandmother, Lillian, has a bad fall, Maggie Oberon returns to her family home, Cloudesley, in the Chiltern Hills to look after her. As Maggie helps Lillian to recover, secrets are revealed which help Maggie come to terms with her childhood and solve the problems in her recent past. I love a dual timeframe tale and this one just gripped me from beginning to end. Maggie’s and Lillian’s individual but interconnecting stories are wonderfully and seamlessly told. This is such a lovely story! When her grandmother, Lillian, has a bad fall, Maggie Oberon returns to her family home, Cloudesley, in the Chiltern Hills to look after her. As Maggie helps Lillian to recover, secrets are revealed which help Maggie come to terms with her childhood and solve the problems in her recent past. I love a dual timeframe tale and this one just gripped me from beginning to end. Maggie’s and Lillian’s individual but interconnecting stories are wonderfully and seamlessly told. The descriptions of the rapidly decaying and neglected old manor house along with its grounds are so vivid and picturesque - it’s easy to picture in your mind, especially the peacocks! There is a great cast of varied and interesting characters, too, all of whom are realistic and well drawn. It’s a compelling and captivating story of love in all its forms, jealousy, courage and forgiveness. I absolutely loved it. Highly recommended.

  21. 4 out of 5

    Pam Tickner

    A book club pick. I always worry when a book has a lavish cover (and it is beautiful) that I'm going to be disappointed. In the acknowledgements Hannah thanks all the booksellers for matching the right book with the right reader, and I'm not the right reader. An easy 'summer' read, well constructed and flows well with alternating chapters between a grandmother and her granddaughter. I did like that the last sentence of one chapter, opened the narrative for the next chapter even though decades ap A book club pick. I always worry when a book has a lavish cover (and it is beautiful) that I'm going to be disappointed. In the acknowledgements Hannah thanks all the booksellers for matching the right book with the right reader, and I'm not the right reader. An easy 'summer' read, well constructed and flows well with alternating chapters between a grandmother and her granddaughter. I did like that the last sentence of one chapter, opened the narrative for the next chapter even though decades apart.

  22. 5 out of 5

    Jess

    I loved this book, the beautiful cover and page turning story made it hard to put down. my favourite kind of book; complex characters, a strong sense of place, a family mystery and plenty of heart. Highly recommended

  23. 5 out of 5

    Sam Still Reading

    If you’re a fan of Kate Morton, you will simply adore Hannah Richell’s The Peacock Summer. The novel contains everything a reader needs for a cracking good time, from a crumbling old mansion with dusty relics and closed off sections to family secrets that take generations to come to the fore. There are two narratives between present day and the 1950s, with alternating chapters very cleverly episodes between the two. Add in characters with multiple motives and flaws and it’s a recipe for a story If you’re a fan of Kate Morton, you will simply adore Hannah Richell’s The Peacock Summer. The novel contains everything a reader needs for a cracking good time, from a crumbling old mansion with dusty relics and closed off sections to family secrets that take generations to come to the fore. There are two narratives between present day and the 1950s, with alternating chapters very cleverly episodes between the two. Add in characters with multiple motives and flaws and it’s a recipe for a story you can’t stop reading. The writing is beautiful, evoking the feel of the once beautiful house, now a dusty, unstable shell of glory. The story opens as Lillian, alone and frail becomes ill while granddaughter Maggie is drunk on Bondi Beach. Hearing of her grandmother’s illness, Maggie immediately comes home to be with her. Unfortunately it also brings back the shame of why she left the village in disgrace. As Lillian’s mind wanders, the reader is taken back to a glorious summer, commencing with the summer party at Cloudesley. Lillian is the wife of Charles Oberon, which isn’t as lovely as it sounds. Their marriage isn’t as sparkly as it seems and when she meets artist Jack, he seems to know this. Jack accepts Charles’ challenge/request to paint a beautiful room to hold his collection of the weird and wonderful (which is what made his family rich). Over the summer, Jack and Lillian become closer and fall in love. But it’s not so simple when Lillian feels a duty to stepson Albie and her sister, Helena. Maggie too, feels like she must do the best for Lillian and Cloudesley. It’s not easy when the village is against her and there is no money to restore the house. While the overview of the plot above may make it seem simple, to read it is to marvel in the gorgeously constructed sentences describing the house and that glorious summer. I can picture the house right down to the tiny details of the ornaments in both its glory and its downfall. The summer is described too in such detail that you can’t help but feel warm and golden (not easy when it’s the depths of an Australian winter). I really felt part of this book, like Cloudesley and Lillian had taken me under their wing. It was also fascinating to read each chapter as Richell has cleverly linked a phrase or a description between Lillian and Maggie’s youth. Maggie thinks she knows her grandmother, but it’s obvious early on that her childhood observations are incorrect. As the story progresses, it becomes blatantly clear just how different perception versus reality is. In Maggie’s own life, her perception of what others think has stopped her from progressing forward to be who she wants to be. Can Maggie forgive herself and gain the courage to give her grandmother’s dear Cloudesley the attention she feels it deserves? Both Lillian and Maggie are flawed characters, which makes it even more interesting to see Lillian from the pedestal Maggie has put her on. It goes to show that we don’t really know another’s motivations and actions, particularly in hindsight. Lillian too, makes several assumptions that could have changed her whole life if she had acted differently. Jack is a darling, but his principles when up against Lillian’s are very different. Did Lillian make the right decision? Did Maggie? Did Albie? That’s up to the reader to debate and try to make decisions about. It’s a story that will stick with the reader for a long, long time. Thank you to Hachette for the copy of this book. My review is honest. http://samstillreading.wordpress.com

  24. 3 out of 5

    Megan Jones

    At twenty-six, Lillian feels trapped by life. Her marriage to Charles Oberon has not turned out the way she envisaged. To her it seems that she is just another object that he has collected in the walls of Cloudesley, her husband’s beautiful manor house tucked away in the Chiltern hills. But, with a young step-son and sister to care for, Lillian accepts there is no escape. Then Charles makes an arrangement with an enigmatic artist, Jack Fincher, who is visiting their home. Jack’s presence will un At twenty-six, Lillian feels trapped by life. Her marriage to Charles Oberon has not turned out the way she envisaged. To her it seems that she is just another object that he has collected in the walls of Cloudesley, her husband’s beautiful manor house tucked away in the Chiltern hills. But, with a young step-son and sister to care for, Lillian accepts there is no escape. Then Charles makes an arrangement with an enigmatic artist, Jack Fincher, who is visiting their home. Jack’s presence will unbalance everything Lillian knew. Maggie Oberon, Lillian’s granddaughter, ran away from the hurt she caused. She escaped to Australia where it was easier to forget, but when Lillian falls ill, she must return to Cloudesley. Wow! This novel is a must read. This novel is one of my hotly anticipated reads of 2018, having loved Richell’s first two offerings I could not wait to see what this held and it really does not disappoint! We are presented with the story of Lillian in her marriage to Charles, the events of the summer and her present day as well as Maggie’s present day. We learn about these two strong women who have endured so much and I instantly fell in love with them and their story. Lillian’s story is a slow-burn, Richell releases teasing droplets of information that slowly form the bigger picture of her life and what a haunting, tragic life Lillian has led. Lillian’s story really captured me and tugged at my heartstrings, I was completely engrossed in her story, learning about her past and seeing how it has impacted her present. Richell keeps the revelations coming until right near the end and I was hooked. Maggie’s story is a bit different, again a slow-burn but I was not instantly hooked into her story, however the more I read about her and the way she cares for Lillian, the more I fell in love with the character and from this, the story of Maggie’s life. Maggie again has had a tough life and we read about how she has dealt with events in her life and then we see her try to make amends for past wrongs. The story of Lillian and Maggie together, ensures for emotional, haunting reading that I could not put down. As well as a terrific plot with the most wonderful characters, Richell has created a sumptuous manor in the form of Cloudesley, envisaging the manor and scenery was no hardship and transported me to beautiful places. ‘The Peacock Summer’ is a novel that I could get lost in, I found myself in another landscape, learning about different people and the hardships they have endured. ‘The Peacock Summer’ is an outstanding novel that is truly worth the wait. This has spectacular characters and plot, really what more could you want in a novel.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Lucille

    A fascinating tale of love and jealousy. Lilian is recovering in hospital when her granddaughter Hannah returns from Australia to take care of her. Hannah is shocked to discover the rundown state of Cloudesley, the mansion Lilian calls home. where peacocks roam the grounds. Lilian was first brought here as a young bride but behind her story and a locked room lies a passionate love affair. The tale is told in two timelines: Lilian's life as a young bride and Hannah's, as she tries to find a way o A fascinating tale of love and jealousy. Lilian is recovering in hospital when her granddaughter Hannah returns from Australia to take care of her. Hannah is shocked to discover the rundown state of Cloudesley, the mansion Lilian calls home. where peacocks roam the grounds. Lilian was first brought here as a young bride but behind her story and a locked room lies a passionate love affair. The tale is told in two timelines: Lilian's life as a young bride and Hannah's, as she tries to find a way of keeping Cloudesley while atoning for her behaviour before she left for Australia 18 months before. Thanks to NetGalley and Orion for the opportunity to read and review The Peacock Summer.

  26. 5 out of 5

    Cressida McLaughlin

    Spellbinding, beautiful and evocative. Hannah Richell is one of my favourite authors and this book is wonderful, with brilliant characters and so much emotion. I read the last few chapters through a blur of tears, and will remember it for a long time to come.

  27. 5 out of 5

    Helen Carolan

    While this book was readable somehow it wasn't as gripping as her earlier reads. Her previous books have all been somewhat dark but this was missing from her latest. Perhaps understandable as she suffered a personal tragedy just as she was starting this one. Maggie has spent a year in Australia after running away from a doomed romance, but now she returns to England and the family home "Cloudsley" to care for her ill grandmother Lillian. 1955 and Lillian is married to the controlling and abusive While this book was readable somehow it wasn't as gripping as her earlier reads. Her previous books have all been somewhat dark but this was missing from her latest. Perhaps understandable as she suffered a personal tragedy just as she was starting this one. Maggie has spent a year in Australia after running away from a doomed romance, but now she returns to England and the family home "Cloudsley" to care for her ill grandmother Lillian. 1955 and Lillian is married to the controlling and abusive Charles. When he hires an artist to paint the unused nursery Lillian embarks on an affair that will have tragic consequences.

  28. 4 out of 5

    Kate

    Oh my heart! This is such a beautiful and heart-breaking book. It kept me hooked right to the end, I loved it.

  29. 4 out of 5

    Fiona

    Just Beautiful...and Heart Wrenching....

  30. 5 out of 5

    Ruth

    A great read, one that makes you turn the pages, and one that's beautifully written. I was immersed in the characters from the outset, flawed as they were, and was gripped as their stories unfolded at the turn of each page. I loved the description of the old house and its faded glory, the beautiful grounds and the summer fair. I loved learning the secrets that gradually escaped from hiding places behind locked doors, hidden in desks and trapped in people's memories. I loved how the characters ev A great read, one that makes you turn the pages, and one that's beautifully written. I was immersed in the characters from the outset, flawed as they were, and was gripped as their stories unfolded at the turn of each page. I loved the description of the old house and its faded glory, the beautiful grounds and the summer fair. I loved learning the secrets that gradually escaped from hiding places behind locked doors, hidden in desks and trapped in people's memories. I loved how the characters evolved, as I became familiar with their pasts and cared about their fates. This is a fabulous tale, told sensitively. It is a perfect book to curl up with, to relax and immerse yourself in. It is proper storytelling at its best.

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