The Peacock Summer by Hannah Richell, Elizabeth Hopper (Narrator)
Audiobook published July 2nd 2019 by HarperAudio, Hardcover published June 26th 2018 by Hachette Australia
This story is told in two timelines, sixty years apart. It is told by Maggie and her grandmother Lillian. It is a family saga, full of secrets and emotions. It is the story of how a house affects the life of its inhabitants. It is a beautifully written story that captured my imagination and had me listening intently to find out what was going to happen to Lillian, Maggie and even Albee (Lillian’s stepson, Maggie’s father). Lillian literally falls into a life of wealth and privilege but without happiness and Maggie who returns to the estate to care for her ailing grandmother after fleeing the family home earlier with her own secret.
Maggie is not aware of Lillian’s past and the secrets she has kept for years. As Lillian’s health fades, the secrets are shared and the past and present collide. My emotions were all over reading this one. Both Maggie and Lillian have things in their past that they wish they could change and have brought them to where they are now. The other issue is that Lillian has almost run out of money and cannot maintain Cloudsley anymore. Maggie wants to save the manor house, but will she be able to find something in the past that the National Trust will be interested in? I really enjoyed this story. It was just the right blend of mystery, historical and Gothic fiction, that wraps up with a bittersweet ending.
I listened to this audiobook and enjoyed it, once I got used to the narrator’s voice. Both Lillian and Maggie had their own voice, but the rest of the characters were quite similar. It was more of a reading of the book than a performance of the story. Having said that, it was still a very enjoyable story to listen to. I received a copy of this audiobook from HarperAudio upon request. The rating, ideas and opinions shared are my own.
About the Book: 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.
Listen to a clip of the book:
About the Author: Hannah Richell was born in Kent, England and spent her childhood years in Buckinghamshire and Canada. After graduating from the University of Nottingham in 1998 she worked in book publishing and film. Hannah began to write while pregnant with her first child. The result was Secrets of the Tides, picked for the 2012 Richard & Judy Book Club, the Waterstones Book Club and shortlisted for the Australian Independent Bookseller Best Debut Fiction Award, ABIA General Fiction Book of the Year (2013) and ABIA Newcomer of the Year (2013). The novel has been translated into sixteen languages. Her follow-up novel was The Shadow Year and her third, The Peacock Summer, was published in 2018.
Hannah has written for a number of media outlets including Harper’s Bazaar, The Independent, Fairfax Media and Australian Women’s Weekly. She is a dual citizen of the UK and Australia, though currently lives in the South West of England with her family.