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Tuesday, January 29, 2019

Book Review: The Peacock Feast by Lisa Gornick

A quiet, contemplative novel about an old (101!) woman in New York, remembering her life, meeting a long-lost relative she never knew existed, uncovering some family secrets, and giving us readers some dirt on late-Gilded Age Louis Tiffany. This book put me in mind of Lillian Boxfish Takes a Walk or a sedentary A Man Called Ove (with less drama).

Prudence was born at the Tiffany estate out at Long Island. Not because she's a member of that family oh no! Her mother is a maid and her father is a gardener. The family eventually moves into Manhattan to Hell's Kitchen and her father still works for Tiffany in his Manhattan mansion. One day, Dorothy Tiffany gives Prudence a gift of drawing paper and pencils.

Prudence's life changes as she goes to college for design, becoming an interior designer in the very early days of that field (pioneered by Louis Comfort Tiffany), meeting a man, getting married, being torn over her decision about children, eventually leading a solitary life, until one day, in her 101st year, a grand-niece she didn't know existed, Grace, shows up at her apartment. Prudence's brother Randall had left to try his luck in San Francisco as a teen and quickly lost touch with the family. They never knew what happened to him and vice versa. Grace and Prudence will uncover secrets, find out truths, and redevelop a family they didn't know they still had.

This book is about family and loss and love and memory and art, and I enjoyed it very much. It is on the quiet side without a lot of action, but I found it an easy read.

This book is published by Farrar Straus and Giroux, a division of Macmillan, my employer.

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