Synopsis: An illustrious marriage, a fortune, a position of wealth and influence. These are the dreams and ambitions of any Victorian woman of sense. Or are they? Perhaps not for Arabella Gray. The death of Abbie’s father, the overseer of a large country estate, leaves her without means or resources, without, even, a place to live. Her landlords, in an extraordinary display of charity, invite her to live at Holdaway Hall. But the invitation is as puzzling as it is generous. Why are the Crawfords, who have never paid her any notice before, so concerned with her wellbeing now?
It’s a question the younger Crawford brothers would like to have answered as well. Certainly Miss Gray is a mercenary upstart. Certainly their brother is mad for fancying himself in love with her. Such a union would make them a laughing stock. They mean to put a stop to it, but when they learn that her past is closely—even disturbingly—connected with their own, they are brought up short, forced to ask themselves some very hard questions. As Abbie herself soon learns, there is a great mystery at the heart of her landlords’ extraordinary offer. Everything she has ever dreamt of might be hers for the taking, but is the price worth it? More than her happiness alone rests upon her decision. If she refuses Ruskin Crawford’s offer of marriage, will she be able to live with the consequences? If she does, will she be able to live with herself?
In the end, all must ask themselves some very hard questions. What does it mean to be a man or woman of honor and integrity? What does it mean, after all, to be a gentleman? And what, exactly, is the price of a woman’s heart?
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My Thoughts: V.R. Christensen wastes not time nor words in engaging her reader with Cry of the Peacock. The action is palpable from the first paragraph of the prologue and never diminishes.
The theme in Cry of the Peacock focuses on Christensen’s main character, Arabella Gray, preferably according to Miss Gray, Abbie. Abbie’s father has died and left her without a cent. Mr. Gray had for years been the overseer of the rather large estate belonging to the Crawfords.
The Crawfords extend a mysterious invitation to Abbie to come and live with them. Intriguing and promising as it may be, Abbie is uncertain why the Crawfords should care enough to bestow such a large gift upon her. The invitation is equally mysterious and somewhat disturbing to the Crawfords’ two younger sons. And so the story and the mystery begin.
Christensen has a knack for creating interesting characters, such as the oldest Crawford son, Ruskin. Ruskin’s abilities to woo and romance are lacking in the extreme. Today Ruskin would likely be accused of harassment and perhaps rough treatment of a woman. Then there is the sweet Katherine, engaged hopefully soon to Ruskin’s younger brother, David. But who loves whom?
With just the right amount of tension, magnificent scene building and a cast with dialogue to bring her story to life, Christensen reaches the climax of the story. What will Abbie’s answer be to the Crawfords’ invitation to her? Just what impact will Abbie’s decision to do to the Crawford family. Will David Crawford assume the role selected for him in Lord Barnwell’s cabinet and confirm his intention to marry Katherine Barnwell? The reader’s mind is replete with questions, and the author answers each of them in a meticulously tidy ending.
I enjoyed reading Cry of the Peacock, not only because it is historical fiction but also because V.R. Christensen did everything within her creative power to bring a well-paced, intriguing story to the pages found between the book’s beautiful cover.
My Recommendation: If you have enjoyed previous V.R. Christensen works and you love historical novels, this book is for you. There is not one thing I can say against it, unless it would be that my household chores suffered over a period of a day or so.
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Meet the Author:
V.R. Christensen attended Brigham Young University, Idaho, where she earned a degree in Interior Design, while at the same time studying English Literature, Art History and Sociology. When she is not writing, she is designing impractical clothing, redecorating her historical homes, or making impossible demands of her husband of seventeen years. She travels a great deal and considers herself a citizen of the world.
Currently, V.R. makes her home in Appalachian Virginia, where she lives with her husband, three children, seven cats and a dog named Jasper.
V.R. is a member of Historical Fiction Authors Cooperative, English Historical Fiction Authors, Past Times Books, Authors Anon and Literary Underground, all of which are aimed at ensuring that the publishing revolution now upon us produces some of the finest work available to the reading public–and makes it available.
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I received a copy of Cry of the Peacock by Story Cartel in exchange for a fair and honest review.
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COMING UP: On Thursday, August 29th, I’ll be reviewing Why Kimba Saved the World by Meg Welch Dendler. This is a great book for children and families to read together. So, come back on Thursday and check out my review.