In the sixties, Athene Forster was the most glamorous girl of her generation. Nicknamed the Last Deb, she was also beautiful, spoiled, and out of control. When she agreed to marry the gorgeous young heir Douglas Fairley-Hulme, her parents breathed a sigh of relief. But within two years, rumors had begun to circulate about Athene's affair with a young salesman.
Thirty-five years later, Suzanna Peacock is struggling with her notorious mother's legacy. The only place Suzanna finds comfort is in The Peacock Emporium, the beautiful coffee bar and shop she opens that soon enchants her little town. There she makes perhaps the first real friends of her life, including Alejandro, a male midwife, escaping his own ghosts in Argentina.
The specter of her mother still haunts Suzanna. But only by confronting both her family and her innermost self will she finally reckon with the past--and discover that the key to her history, and her happiness, may have been in front of her all along.
|Publisher:||Penguin Publishing Group|
|Product dimensions:||5.40(w) x 8.40(h) x 1.10(d)|
About the Author
Read an Excerpt
Reading Group Guide
1. The Peacock Emporium is about Suzanna coming to terms with her family and her past, but it is also a love story, as well as an ensemble piece about the ways a small town reacts around issues of domestic violence. Do you think the elements came together to create a realistic and cohesive narrative? Why or why not? Which storyline compelled you the most?
2. In this novel, Suzanna must reckon with her mother’s scandalous past and the way in which this history affects her own identity. How important a role do you think parents’ lives should play in the foundation of one’s own identity?
3. Suzanna, the protagonist, is an enigma to the end. She continually denies her true feelings, and is stalled in life out of passivity, confusion, and fear, yet these are very understandable human reactions. Did you understand why Suzanna decided to keep everything to herself, and why she had trouble letting others get close to her? What do you think motivates her? Is it her unhappiness and feelings of not belonging or being good enough—or something else entirely? Or why do you think she’s so unhappy in her marriage?
4. Some of the great joys of this novel are the wonderful secondary characters, such as Arturro, Father Lenny, Mrs. Creek, etc. Which of these characters stood out most for you? Did you relate personally to any of them? In what ways?
5. Suzanna makes a point of not inviting her husband, Neil, to the opening of the Peacock Emporium, because she “wanted something that was hers, pure and pleasurable, untainted by her and Neil’s history. Uncomplicated by people” (p. 83). What do you think she meant by this?
6. Suzanna is so different from the rest of the Fairley-Hulmes—both emotionally and in terms of her outlook on life. How do you think these differences helped or hindered her relationships within her family? How do they shape her choices regarding the shop?
7. How did you come to understand Suzanna and Neil’s marriage? Did you understand and believe in the relationship that develops between her and Arturro, and did you anticipate what happened between them?
8. Did you like the way the ending connected to the beginning of the novel, having come full circle? Did you think it made for a satisfying ending?
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
I have loved Jojo Moyes books! I do believe this is my favorite. It was worth waiting for.
Like the other books I’ve read by JoJo Moyes, this has an interesting and unpredictable plot and a cast of distinctive characters, in both primary and supporting roles. Dialog and relationships are original, complex, and believable. All good! I like this author. My main criticism with this one is the book’s structure. At the beginning, Moyes introduces a bunch of characters in sequential, stand-alone chapters. No connection between them. This is a technique I’ve found several authors using lately — so it must be in vogue. The issue, for me, is that I then need to remember multiple story lines, without yet knowing how they will ultimately intersect. So just as I’m just getting to know one character, the chapter ends and that character is then set aside for some chunk of the book. And whatever emotional attachment I might have is set aside as well. Obviously, the storylines do eventually link up and the central part of the novel follows a more linear plot line, focusing on Suzannah. She is a child of privilege from a family where she feels like an outsider and she has just returned to live in the small English town where she grew up, near that family. She is unsettled in her 10 year marriage to Neal and ambivalent about having children. Somewhat whimsically she decides she will find her true purpose by opening up a new shop (aka The Peacock Emporium). As an entrepreneur, Suzannah (and we) gets to know a bunch of locals. A lonely old women who comes regularly to pass judgement on everything and everyone and to exercise her relentless self-involvement. A sunny young mother who becomes the cornerstone of establishing a welcoming atmosphere at the shop. A foreign-born male midwife whose darker skin makes it difficult to find acceptance in this small town. Plus, a few nearby shop owners. Then, as we approach the end of the novel, the author employs the same writing technique as she did at the start — ending with a number of chapters that seem unconnected, where Moyes initially, intentionally obscures which character is being discussed. I’m not sure what this adds. To be honest, I simply find this technique annoying. To me, an author should create something that so immerses the reader that they get lost inside the novel. Instead, what Moyes has done in this one is use such a heavy-handed structure that it interferes in that total immersion. Form over content. Not my preferred approach to fiction.
3.5 stars I'm honestly surprised at how low people have rated this. I thought this was an enjoyable read, and I found the main character, Suzanna to be relatable. This was a bittersweet story with some sad elements, which seems to be Moyes' specialty. The only thing I didn't love was at times, all the different perspectives could get a little confusing.