The Peacock Summer (Hannah Richell, Hachette)
Hannah Richell’s third novel, The Peacock Summer, is a vivid tale stretching across 50 years. It tells the story of Lillian and her granddaughter Maggie, set against the intimidating backdrop of Cloudesley—a now dilapidated Chilterns manor house that, in Lillian’s youth and early days of marriage, was the setting for magnificent social events and soirées. Maggie is desperate to save the house from disrepair and uncovers a secret that not only reignites her own passion for art, but also rekindles her ailing grandmother’s memories of the summer of 1955. Richell’s treatment of art and nature brings the story to life in both the past and present day—the detailed way Richell presents scenery and describes seemingly incidental observations does not overshadow the story but gives it added depth, like an artist’s sketch. Storylines are seamlessly woven together: the world of Lillian’s younger years with her oppressive husband are interspersed with Maggie’s present-day narrative, and both are recounted with tenderness and passion. Readers of Kate Morton, Sally Hepworth, Kirsty Manning and Jackie French will enjoy this beautifully written novel that brims with art, beauty, love, family, passion and secrets.
Kate Frawley is a bookseller and the manager of The Sun and Younger Sun Bookshops