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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.

Poignant, intriguing and utterly captivating, The Peacock Summer is one I have no hesitation in highly recommending.

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With thanks to Hachette AU for my copy to read and review. View all 18 comments. I listened to this lovely and heartbreaking novel on audio last summer. It was just the right blend of mystery, historical and Gothic fiction. Dark family secrets are hidden in the walls of Cloudesley. Can Lillian save granddaughter Maggie from her same fate? Wraps up with a bittersweet ending. View 1 comment. 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. 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. View 2 comments. Jul 26, Amanda - Mrs B's Book Reviews rated it it was amazing Shelves: aww , beauty-lace-book-club , books. 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.

The Peacock Summer hails the return of Hannah Richell.

The House of the Seven Gables

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. Both were a joy to read, the pages seemed to float away.

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. 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. View all 5 comments. Hannah Richell's third novel centres, as her others have, on a house. Cloudesley is a grand country manor, home to the Oberon family.


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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. 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 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. TinyLetter Twitter Instagram Tumblr Jun 10, Thebooktrail rated it it was amazing Shelves: historical-fiction , novel-set-in-england. 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!

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!

Recommended reading if you enjoy family mysteries set over decades and all revealing themselves in large gothic houses with secret rooms…. And the peacocks! 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.

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! The two stories come together very nicely indeed Recommended! 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. 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.

Halfway up she stops and listens. 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?

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. 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. 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.

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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. 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. 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. 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.

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. She feels this singular moment joining to all the rest and finds the thought strangely comforting. The Peacock Summer is a triumph, compelling historical fiction of the highest calibre.

Thanks is extended to Hachette Australia for providing me with a copy of The Peacock Summer for review. 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.

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Set in a dual timezone where we venture from the coast of Australia to a beautiful home named Cloudesley in rural England. Each ti The Peacock Summer by Hannah Richell is an absolutely captivating novel; full of intrigue, imagination and everything beautiful. Each time surprised View all 3 comments. Apr 15, Liz Fenwick added it. A compelling story of forbidden love and ruined lives Haunting, heartbreaking and stunningly beautiful!!

Just read it, it is a brilliant work! Thank you Hannah Richell. 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.

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! 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. Jul 28, Elise McCune rated it it was amazing.


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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 book itself has a lovely cover and art work. Mar 08, Tripfiction rated it it was amazing Shelves: novels-set-in-uk.

There are various backstories which are beautifully knitted together. At the heart is the historic family home of Cloudesley, set in fictional Cloud Green in the Chilterns. Parties and peacocks were the order of the day back then. Now, however, the whole estate has fallen into disrepair and a lot of money is required to turn everything around. That is down to Maggie to sort out.

The author has a real gift for transitioning between the two time periods, the stories flow effortlessly which is a real feat. She feeds in quite a few themes — not too many — and knits them all together in a cohesive way. After the war Lillian meets Charles they literally run into each other on a road who is the owner of the mansion Cloudesley and who is on the look-out for a new mother for Albie; his first wife is dead. The author builds up the picture of domestic violence in a layered and thoughtful way. Charles engages a young painter, Jack Fincher, to paint a mural in the room that was the nursery.

Lillian is now barren. This handsome and capable young man joins the household over one Summer and the scene is set. His mural gains significance as he finds his inspiration and gets into his stride. Albie is the missing generation. He travels the world without a care, elusive and with neither a real sense of purpose nor responsibility.

He has a fling and into the world comes Maggie. Both birth parents literally abandon her and she is brought up by grandmother Lillian who is not a blood relative but the next best thing. I feel that the hurt and abandonment issues suffered by Maggie could perhaps have had more core exploration and tended to be brushed over in the narrative; the single flaw to my mind in the otherwise very good story.

Maggie is called back from Australia as Lillian has taken a fall and needs care. Just the previous year Maggie had a local entanglement which devastated those involved. And now she is back to face her past as well as pick up the threads with her grandmother and truly understand the weight of the estate and its disrepair. Her own history starts to unfurl as she discovers secrets and the true story of her family history. The writing is thoughtful and as graceful as the peacocks that once strutted the Cloudesley manicured lawns. Jul 21, Marg rated it it was amazing Shelves: aww , audio-book.

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. Jun 28, Helen rated it it was amazing. 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. 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. Jul 04, Emma Crowley rated it really liked it. 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.

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. Phoebus Apollo was the god of the sun, and Phoebe is one of the names of Apollo's twin sister, his feminine counterpart. But before we assign only positive connotations to the name, we should also remember that Phoebe was one of the names of Artemis, the virgin goddess of the hunt and protectress of the young; she was also goddess of childbirth and women.

Hawthorne's irony is at work again here. One of the reasons, as we stated above, for the decline of the family has been its lack of childbirths, of progeny; and, as has been pointed out, Phoebe, like her namesake, is a virgin. Although she is soon to marry and become part of "a new Eden," the mother of the new Eden might also be the mother of a new "fall," for when they all leave the old "garden," it is in September — not in spring, when we generally think of regeneration's taking place; furthermore, there has been nothing in Phoebe's character to suggest that she is stronger than the original Eve; in fact, she almost "falls" succumbs to Holgrave's mesmerism early in the story.

Even more suggestive of Hawthorne's combining classical myth and biblical allusion is his reference to a "golden bough. When both Aeneas and the Sybil gained admittance to the underworld by the power of the golden talismanic branch, Aeneas learned both the secrets of the dead and the prophecies concerning the living. Reference to the myth functions, therefore, on several levels. First, it is still a general secret that the Judge is dead inside the house; anyone entering would learn that secret.

"The Mother:Secrets of the House"

But the branch is not just a sort of "key" to the house; it is a "mystic" branch, capable of unlocking secrets more mysterious than merely the Judge's physical presence within. Reference to it transforms the house into an underworld, a realm where death is all-powerful and sits on the throne.


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  5. Also, this single branch is only a small part of the tree. The rest of the tree is "in perfect verdure," a symbol of life, not of death. Because of its great circumference, the tree has come to symbolize nature and nature's resurrection; now, it overshadows the house, where there has been, since the beginning, only death, not resurrection. Now, "all was alive and full of the morning sun and a sweetly tempered little breeze. The tree is full of life and light because it has finally succeeded in completely overshadowing the house and its occupants, both past and present. At the end of the novel, in the concluding sentences, Hawthorne makes this aspect of his allusion more explicit by telling us that the elm "whispered unintelligible prophecies.

    Thus, it seems more than a little likely that the new Pyncheon Eden will fare much better than the old one. In a cryptic way, The House of the Seven Gables has dealt extensively with both moral and psychological affairs. Its "necromancies" allow us to see the entire historical, social, and symbolic framework of the romance in relationship to guilt. From the opening pages of the novel, the focal symbol of the house is symbolized by "a human countenance," and the resulting struggle for possession follows familiar Hawthornian lines.

    The falsely accused "wizard" Matthew Maule has not been simply executed by his enemy, Colonel Pyncheon; he has been incorporated into the subsequent life of the house, like an ever-present conscience. The new structure will not insure happiness. It will, Hawthorne tells us, "include the home of the dead and buried wizard, and would thus afford the ghost of the latter a kind of privilege to haunt its new apartments. Such attempted avoidance of guilt is the genesis of all the ironic justice in The House of the Seven Gables.

    Every tyrant is at the mercy of his victim; or, as Hawthorne puts it in his American Notebooks , "All slavery is reciprocal.

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    It is clear that the Colonel's strange and unexplained sudden death is due to nothing other than his festering guilt toward Maule. The pattern is repeated for Gervayse Pyncheon in the story told by Holgrave; thus, Pyncheon's greed makes him tacitly cooperate when the second Matthew Maule, supposedly in exchange for a valuable document, takes mesmeric control over Pyncheon's daughter and subsequently causes her death.

    Jaffrey Pyncheon is similarly enslaved by the oppressed Clifford, who, some claim, "causes" the Judge's death simply by freeing himself from Jaffrey's corrupt authoritarianism. Perfect justice is, of course, not accomplished. If the authoritarian Pyncheon characters suffer from a secret, sick malaise and eventually come to grief, they all, nevertheless, have a certain public dignity for compensation; revenge, then, is incomplete.

    The meek victims, by contrast, are in continual misery when they survive at all until Holgrave arrives, but even he retains his internalized sense of persecution. Hepzibah and Clifford, who are presented as figures of infantile innocence, escape Jaffrey's dictatorial presence, but even they are pathetic in trying to enjoy their freedom after Jaffrey's death.

    What jailer so inexorable as one's self! Many critics have said that the conclusion to The House of the Seven Gables is a reconciliation of the past and the present into a "sunny" ending. But if that were positively and unquestionably so, we would have to admit that the story would end as no more than flimsy farce.