Friday, November 25, 2022

Victoria Holt’s THE PRIDE OF THE PEACOCK –Mystery, Opals and Love with a Peacock in Victorian Australia

Set in the Victorian era (about 1880), beginning in England, this is the story of Opal Jessica Clavering, the youngest daughter in a family that treats her as if she doesn’t belong. At one time the family was wealthy, but now they live in the Dower House next to the estate, Oakland Hall, they once called their own.


When she is 16, Jessica makes friends with the owner of Oakland Hall, Ben Henniker, an opal miner who made his money in the mines of New South Wales. Ben offers her the chance for a new life and Jessica takes it even though it includes a marriage of convenience to his illegitimate son, Josslyn Madden (“Joss”), called “the Peacock” for his pride and his home, Peacocks, in Australia.


Once married, Joss returns to Australia with Jessica, who begins to wonder if her husband isn’t planning to kill her. The famous jewel called the Green Flash at Sunset goes missing and there are no clues as to who took it. And then someone is murdered.


Holt is a great storyteller and immediately had me deeply involved in Jessica’s life. Jessica is a woman who has a curious mind, an adventurous spirit and is courageous to the core. I liked her very much. Joss is arrogant, like a peacock, but he also has depth. Since we are never in his mind, his thoughts remain a mystery except for what he tells Jessica. The fact he wants to see how Jessica changes as she “grows up” suggests he might like her after all.


The characters are richly drawn, the story absorbing and the excitement subtle as Jessica takes on the mystery of the missing jewel, the murder and her husband.

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