The Peacock Summer

Pub Date:   |   Archive Date: 28 Jun 2018

Member Reviews

I LOVED Hannah Richell's Peacock Summer inside out! What a beautiful cover reflecting her writing. It was a lush experience taking you to another world. If you like Kate Morton's style, you'll definitely like this book. . 

I loved the description of atmosphere, the characterization, the story telling. I connected to the book and didn't want to get out of this world. It was also a page turner, not one of those books boring one part, exciting another part. It was very well balanced. 

An old house, interesting characters, secrets, summer vibes, family affairs and memories. What's not to like???

It was a fantastic read to travel to another world and sip your coffee with delight. Totally recommended.
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Hannah Richell has produced yet another highly readable tale with a country house at the centre. Cloudesly is the family home of Charles and Lillian and it is their chequered history and dysfunctional family secrets  which are revealed in this tale told over different decades jumping from modern day back to the previous generation. .Maggie returns to Cloudesly to take care of her elderly step grandmother Lillian after her grandfather's death, The house is in  a bad state of decay after years of neglect but Lillian insists on returning after a spell in hospital. Subsequent events and startling revelations force Maggie to face up to her past at the same time as we learn of Lillians past life and secret loves.
Beautifully told with an eye for detail Hannah Richell takes us on a trip through time in a tale which will stay with you for a while, details such as the peacocks haunting cry, to the burnt nursery with the stunning murals -these are not easily forgotten  and are what makes this story stand out.
Recommended read!
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Such a gorgeous gorgeous read. 

Emotional evocative and just simply beautiful to read. 

this is a novel I have recommended to everyone including my postlady,  such is her interest in my book deliveries

I loved the sentimental characters and the plot is one that includes dark, sad and romantic interest  I absolutely adored it 

I am only sorry i have read it and feel jealous of those who haven't and are about to..
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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.
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Hannah Richell’s books hold a special place in my heart, as her second novel, The Shadow Year was one of the first ever reviews I wrote on my blog. There is something magical about Hannah's books, and The Peacock Summer is no exception.

It is a stunning novel, both visually and literally.

Lillian Oberon is the lady of the 'Manor', Cloudesley. Wealthy and successful Charles Oberon's second wife, Lillian is young and beautiful, and already trapped into an unhappy marriage that she does not know how to get out of.

Decades later, Maggie Oberon is in Australia, denying all knowledge of the problems she caused back in Cloud Green. Blissfully unaware that her grandmother is ill she continues her hedonistic lifestyle until one phone call changes everything.

Maggie returns to the U.K. to find Lillian in a state of enormous confusion, and for the first time ever, she begins to question her family history. As her Grandmother begs to return to Cloudseley, Maggie’s intrigue grows stronger.

But is she ready to face the truth about her family that has been hidden for so long. And she ready to face the truth about herself?

The Peacock Summer is a beautifully written novel full of family mystery and intrigue, and one that will stay with me for a long time.
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Lillian first came to Cloudesley the beautiful Cotswold manor house as the bride of Charles and stepmother to Albie.  It was not a happy marriage,  Charles was cruel and constantly made her feel inferior to his first wife but Albie compensated........ and then the artist Jack came for the summer!  Maggie is Lillian' s granddaughter and when she learns that Lillian is ill in hospital she comes home to look after her so that she can see out her days at Cloudesley but as Lillian increasingly lives in the past old family secrets start to come out

A great family saga,  I am always a sucker for books about old family homes and secrets and this one certainly did not disappoint
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This is a beautifully written story about families, secrets and consequences all set within the walls of Cloudesley, a manor house hidden away in the Chiltern Hills. Richell's writing is compelling and she effortlessly weaves together the narratives of the characters, letting their stories gradually reveal themselves and then flawlessy bringing all the threads together. There's nothing more delicious than a story which is set in a large house and there's nothing more delicious than discovering the secrets of the family who lived there. Richell's novel is gorgeous, rich and well worth losing yourself in this summer! 



The Peacock Summer has two main story lines, one begins with Lillian as a young woman and then the second is about sixty years later. When we first meet Lillian, she is twenty six and married to Charles Oberon, owner of Cloudesley. Her marriage is unhappy, her relationship fraught and full of tension and Charles is a cruel husband who cares more for his status, objects and belongings than his young wife. Her only happiness comes from looking after her step-son. When Charles arranges for an artistic to come to the house and begin an ambitious project, Lillian finds herself drawn to this charismatic man and as she gets to spend more time with him, she finds herself unable to deny the attraction and emotional connection between them. And from this point onwards, things become more complicated, more threatening and more heartbreaking for Lillian as she tries to navigate her way through the dilemmas and choices that she now faces.



The second, present day story line, focuses on Maggie Oberon, Lillian's grand-daughter who is called back to Cloudesley to look after Lillian who has fallen ill. What follows is an emotional journey for Maggie as she finds the truth behind the family and realises that all she thought was real, was not actually what it seemed. And the more we learn about Maggie, the more that is revealed about her past and her problems. 



I've read both of Hannah Richell's previous novels - I love her writing and her gift for telling stories about such memorable characters. The Peacock Summer is yet another treat and I was completely caught up in the relationships and dynamics between the characters. Richell always shows such insight when depicting relationships and can convey so much through a few details or carefully chosen observations. In this novel Richell explores marriage, parenthood, relationships and the bonds between families. Lillian is a complex character who immediately gains the reader's sympathy and whose dilemmas and difficulties are conveyed with a deft hand. Maggie also shares this complexity and the way the women's lives are entwined is cleverly handled and expertly explored. Richell takes the time to establish the character's voices, making sure the reader feels part of their lives, able to relate to their situations and completely immerse themselves in the world of Cloudesley.



The prose is just as stunning as the front cover; it is as carefully crafted and as intricately woven as the designs that are painted on the wall of the house. I really enjoyed reading The Peacock Summer, it was a treat, it was a rewarding and hugely enjoyable read and I would recommend that anyone who loves novels with country houses, shadowy secrets, hidden pasts and compelling characters, put this to the top of their 'to read' list. Richell is an author I admire and now I have had my fix, I can't wait for her next book!
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What a beautifully written book which elicits a wonderful picture of Cloudesley, a large family home, in the 1950s beautifully maintained and then the same house some 60 odd years later dilapidated and in desperate need of repair. Most of the story is built round Lillian who, now in her 80s is unwell and spends much of her time living in the 1950s in her mind. Her granddaughter Maggie is a lost soul who returns to England to care for her. A family tale with a mystery embroiled.
The quotes at the beginning of each Part and the subsequent section that precedes the next chapter are very atmospheric and add another texture to this story.
Very many thanks to Netgalley/Hannah Richell/Orion Publishing for a digital copy of this novel. All opinions expressed are my own.
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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.
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An old lady, an older house and peacocks! That alone was tantalising enough for me want to know more, and just look at that stunning cover! So I’m delighted to say this story didn’t disappoint at all, in fact it took me off to a mysterious manor with secrets at its heart.

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

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

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

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

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

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

First Published UK: 28 June 2018
Publisher: Orion
No of Pages: 400
Genre: Contemporary Fiction
Amazon UK
Amazon US
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I loved this wonderfully evocative and compelling story of two generations of women, decades apart, whose life is shaped by family history and especially the family home. Hannah Richell makes both Lillian and Maggie into sympathetic, complicated characters whom you root for but also understand in all their flawed complexity. Certainly one I wil be recommending to fans of authors such as Kate Morton and Lucinda Riley.
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Thanks Netgalley and the Publisher.  The book is about bout 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
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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.
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I thoroughly enjoyed  reading"The Peacock Summer", it was just a perfect book for the weekend! We follow the intertwining stories of two women, and discover secrets of the manor house and its residents. Lilian Oberon feels trapped in her marriage, another beautiful object d'art displayed by her husband in their opulent mansion, Cloudesley. But one summer, a young talented painter comes to stay in the house to work on a commission from her husband, and their life will change forever. Decades later, Maggie Oberon comes back home from Australia to take care for her ailing grandmother. Cloudesley, once a beautiful manor house, is in ruin and Maggie is trying to save the family legacy,  This book ticked so many boxes for me: firstly, I lam a sucker for stories where past and present intertwine and I though this one was beautifully written. Secondly, I love old stately homes and their stories, although I would love to read more about Cloudesley itself.  Lastly, it was a great read, full of flawed characters and intriguing secrets. Reading it was like soaking up hot, summer weather while sitting on a deckchair in a garden. A perfect summer read.
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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!
This is going straight on to the BookTrail as I loved it so much.
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Was excited to read this book having read the author's previous two books and I have to say it lived up to my expectations. Really enjoyed it.
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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..
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I have read Hannahn Richell's previous 2 books and have enjoyed them, when I heard about her new book I was excited to read it as soon as possible. I love stories about beautiful houses and the secrets they hold. The Peacock Summer lived up to my expectations.

Maggie has to come home to care for her Grandmother, Lillian, who has taken ill. The story flips between the present and Lillian's past. It reveals that Lillian's past was not as rosy as Maggie thought. Her Grandfather was a not a nice man left mentally scarred by the war but there are periods of happiest and when he invites an artist to paint a room Lillian's life takes a turn for the better. There is reference to an event which is revealed and finding out the person behind it came as a surprise. 

I enjoyed reading this book and loved the descriptions of the house and gardens. I felt like Maggie grew as a person within the pages and it was nice to see how her progressed and sorted out the complications in the house. A very good read, I enjoyed reading it in the garden which is not as fancy as the one in the story!
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I loved this book from the very first word to the last I read it in one sitting.the story focuses in the life of Lillian who us in her 80s and falls I'll and is taken to hospital so her granddaughter comes to look after her. It goes between the memories of Lillian and the discoveries if the granddaughter all wrapped around the painting of a mural  in the house. I would recommend this to fans of Kate Morton and Lucinda Riley.
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Having read 2 of this author's previous novels and very very much enjoying them, I unfortunately didn't quite fall into this one the same way. Still a beautifully written book, but not one that had me desperate to pick it back up again.
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