01 September 2016

Quick review: Harnessing Peacocks by Mary Wesley

Cover on my copy.
Thoroughly bland.
Film cover. I hate those!
I think this is the fifth Mary Wesley book I read. The others I can remember are The Vacillations of Poppy Carew, The Chamomile Lawn, Second Fiddle and Jumping the Queue. I am therefore thoroughly familiar with her storytelling style by now.  

Harnessing Peacocks fully lived up to my expectations of a lively, entertaining, slightly naughty read with dark elements hiding just under the surface. It‘s an occasionally funny and altogether delightful book about several people who at first seem to have little in common.

Wesley then unfolds their stories at a leisurely pace and, like a skilful weaver (or perhaps a norn), she connects, little by little, the fates of protagonist Hebe, a young woman who ran away from home as a teenager and supports herself in turns as a private cook and as a a mistress to a select group of men she calls The Syndicate, her teenage son whom she is raising all alone, her neighbour, clients from both of Hebe's jobs, various friends and relatives and connections of theirs.

Want to bet this edition
came out around the time of Twilight?
A peacock cover.
Still too bland.
As in Wesley's other books, characters from previous books by Wesley pop up or are mentioned (especially The Chamomile Lawn), making it clear that they all belong to the same story universe. One never quite knows what to expect - expect I saw the big reveal coming from far off. However, I don‘t think Wesley meant it to be too much of a surprise, more of a gradual unfolding and coming together of the whole picture, a how rather than an if. In fact, reading this and some of her other books is much like sitting and putting together a jigsaw puzzle, revealing the picture piece by piece.

Thoroughly recommended.

The best of the bunch.
















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