The very best thing you can bring to your book club, besides a killer bottle of wine or a chocolate-covered dessert, is a compelling book that will spark conversation and debate.
Not just a good book with a story well-told, but a juicy read that you can all sink your teeth into. One that you’ll all come away from with different points of view, different characters that make an impact on you, and even different takes on how the tale finally came to an end.
With this in mind, the one novel you’ll want to bring along to your book club this winter (the very best time to curl up with a new book, of course) is The Peacock Summer, a new novel from well-loved British-born, Australian-based author Hannah Richell.
The Peacock Summer follows Maggie Oberon, a young woman who is attempting to escape her life and the choices she has made by living in Australia. But when she receives a phone call from England informing her that her grandmother, Lillian, is in hospital, she returns home to care for her.
On the flip-side of the story is a look back at Lillian’s past, living in a beautiful home but trapped in a marriage that wasn’t what she thought it would be.
Three Mamamia women have all been mesmerised by this new novel, and share why it is the one book they are now urging all of their friends, family members and fellow book club goers to read.
Laura Brodnik, Mamamia Entertainment Editor
When I recommend books to my book club I like to place them in one of three categories: 1. Vegetables (books that are very good for you but a little bland), 2. Vodka (books that you need to shoot down all in one night, that may leave you with a reading hangover the next day) and 3. Chocolate (books that soothe your soul and are a real treat to read. Something a little decadent).
Lately I've been telling my book club friends that The Peacock Summer is the best kind of "chocolate" read. It's delicious, comforting and something a little special all wrapped up in a beautiful collection of words.
For me, one of the biggest drawcards for this book is the setting. Most of the action takes part in a beautiful manor house named Cloudesley in England. This imposing home is dotted with soon-to-be discovered family secrets and almost acts as another character in the text that pushes the story along.
In The Peacock Summer the storyline is being told through two different time periods, through the eyes of two different women. However, the sections of the book weave together so seamlessly that moving between the different decades becomes a story device that really brings the family mystery to a head.
I found myself relating very strongly to the two main female characters, but in very different ways. With Maggie, I connected with her storyline of moving away from her family and friends to try and start a new life, as well as her discovery of her own family history.
Alternately, Lillian's story centres on lost love and living through past pain. The way that this grandmother and granddaughter duo share their lives and stories with one another, and they way they deal with the secrets of their family, makes for a very compelling read.
I've been telling my fellow bookworms that this is a contemporary page-turner you could easily devour in one day or a weekend. At some points I found my eyes quickly skimming the text, racing ahead through the pages because I so desperately wanted to discover the heart of the family's mystery.
Then, at the same time, the characters, settings, sounds and locations of the novel had been so vividly realised within the pages that I had to remind myself to slow down and slowly drink in every little detail.
Rhiannon McGeever, Mamamia Sales Manager
While reading the book, I really felt drawn to the character of Maggie because her character shows the conflict so many of us feel as we become adults. It really made me think about the split loyalties between the love you feel for your family and your search for your own independent identity.
My favourite thing about it is the emotional connection, loyalty and unconditional love between Lillian and Maggie, and that felt by Lillian towards Albie (I won't spoil who he is for you!). It shows how family is more than just whether or not you are connected by blood and that a home is more than bricks and mortar. It shows that love can give you the strength to withstand and overcome the most harrowing challenges.
I would recommend this book to my friends and family because it is an inter-generational, captivating novel of love, loss and the connections between people and places that last a lifetime.
Valentina Todoroska, Mamamia Managing Editor
I found that the most interesting part of The Peacock Summer was the way that it looked at family and how your family history can affect your own life in the present. Also the idea that, similar to how Maggie thinks she knows what her grandmother Lillian's life was like - there are so many parts of our own family trees that we are not aware of.
As much as I was excited to find out the secret that the book was hiding from the very beginning, I especially liked being inside Maggie's head as she started to put together all the pieces of the puzzle - she grows so much as a character over the course of the novel.
The Peacock Summer is also a book I'd recommend to people, especially women, of all ages because the storyline touches on so many elements of a women's life. It's a book I'll be encouraging my mum, sisters and grandmother to read.
That's our book club's verdict. You too can check out The Peacock Summer by Hannah Richell from June 26 onwards.
This content was created with our brand partner Hachette Australia.
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In July, Hachette will publish The Peacock Summer, an utterly compelling story of secrets, betrayals and the consequences of a long-ago summer from Hannah Richell, the internationally bestselling author of Secrets of the Tides and The Shadow Year. Click here to find out more.