The Pride of the Peacock by Victoria Holt

Book Review:

With an almost painfully slow start that is purely expositional, this story took some time for me to become involved and actually care about the story: first wishing that the story would move past the child Jessica and get to the older woman and the tension promised in the description.

Starting in rural England, Jessica is the youngest child of a formerly ‘genteel’ family, and from her perspective it feels as if she is unwanted and her family is full of secrets.  She cannot even use her given first name of Opal, and there is a secret intrinsic in that fact.  In her 16th year, an old miner with one leg moves into the family’s former great house.  Being a child used to following her own curiosity, she meets Herrick, and he slowly reveals her own family history and secrets to her.

Suddenly, she finds herself an heiress with a new husband that she isn’t sure she can trust, and is on her way to Australia in search of the opal, the “Green Flash” that has played a part in her family history and tragedies over the past several years.  Nearly an obsession, the spell of this opal has entranced miners for years, and it just might be the cause of Jessica’s death.

As I stated earlier, this story was incredibly slow to start, with long passages that, while beautifully written and capturing the questioning nature and curiosity of a child, could have been shortened. They were slow to develop, and presented little challenge or action until Herrick moves into the family’s former great house.  Even then, the forward motion of the plot doesn’t seem to take hold until after her arrival in Australia.   I also didn’t find the romance/relationship between Jessica and Joss reasonable in terms of their ‘marriage of convenience transforms to love’.  They had chemistry, of sorts, their frequent verbal battles and quick banter show that, but there wasn’t a solid development of the attraction between them that led to my believing in the relationship.  This is a reprint of a book originally released in 1970, and it does carry that retro feel of one of the books that my grandmother would devour of an afternoon.

It was an enjoyable if not challenging or captivating read, with several gorgeous passages of descriptive prose and a character in Jessica that is cleanly voiced, if not the sharpest tool in the shed.

The Pride of the Peacock by Victoria Holt

Title: The Pride of the Peacock
Author: Victoria Holt
Genre: Historical Romance
Published by: Sourcebooks
Source: Publisher via NetGalley
Pages: 322
Rated: three-stars
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An overseas voyage. A cursed opal. Forbidden Desire.

Raised in the shadow of her family's financial ruin, Jessica Clavering has never felt as though she fit in. When her only friend, an elderly neighbor, offers her the chance at a new life, she's eager to take it. His only condition: she must marry her son, Joss.

The newlyweds inherit a fabled opal mine in Australia. It's only once they arrive on the faraway continent that Jessica starts to uncover her family's dark past and her connection to the Green Flash, an exquisite and spellbinding opal. The stone arouses a dangerous desire in anyone who sees it—even her husband.

A copy of this title was provided via Publisher via NetGalley for purpose of honest review. I was not compensated for this review: all conclusions are my own responsibility.