The Pride of the Peacock by Victoria Holt
This isn’t a new book. In fact, this is a book I’ve owned for a long time, and read over, and over, and over. I got it one time when my Aunt Nancy was watching me for the day, and we went over to her in-laws for some reason or another. Anyone who knew me as a kid, knows that I was always looking for something to read. I picked up this book off a table or bookshelf or something while my aunt was doing whatever it was we were there for. And I was sucked in immediately. When we went to leave, I think it was my aunt’s grandmother in law told me I was welcome to take the book with me and keep it. So I did.
Not sure if this is when my fascination with peacocks began, but peacocks are a big part of the story. And opals. Opal is my birthstone, so of course I’ve liked it for a long time. But this book introduced me to black opals, and made me search to find them. The main character is Jessica Clavering, or Opal Jessica Clavering which is her full name, although she is never called by Opal. She lives with her family in England in the Dower House of her family’s estate that her father lost long ago when gambling. No one will really talk much about the time before. One day Jessica notices what looks like an unmarked grave and finds that it has her name on it. But still, no one will tell her anything about this. Soon the new owner of the former family estate, Ben Henniker is back. And while Jessica is out at her place she likes to sit, his wheelchair comes racing down hill out of control. When Jessica goes to save him, they soon become friends. And she begins sneaking over to visit him. This is where she learns about opals. Ben made his fortune hunting opals in Australia. This may be where I also began my fascination with Australia as well.
I won’t go on to spoil much more, just know that Jessica ends up going to Australia and getting to work with opals, and falling in love, all with a mysterious, magnificent opal that is thought to be cursed, called the Green Flash at Sunset, in the background of all the drama. I don’t know if you can even find this book anymore. I’ve looked in the catalog at my bookstore, thinking that one day I’ll need a new copy of this when I wear this one out, but haven’t been able to find it. And I do love the cover of it that I have, so I wouldn’t want one of the others I saw that is really dorky looking in my opinion. While this is probably considered a romance novel, it isn’t a trashy one. There is no sex in it. It is quite a bit of a mystery at the end as well. But it is romance, and again, one reason I love it is because of how I also have the insecurities dealing with how no one could possibly like/love me just like Jessica does when we get into the last half of the book where she is with Joss in Australia.