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Mr Peacock’s Possessions by Lydia Syson
Albert Peacock has always had a weak constitution and has never quite lived up to his father’s expectations. Try as he might, he is oft-times berated for his weaknesses. Travelling to this isolated place was always going to be an extra challenge for Albert but with the support of his siblings he muddles on.
As time passes the family are struggling to support themselves. Food is very difficult to come by on the island and, with very limited rations available, they are always on the lookout for passing ships. One day they are unable to contain their excitement when a boat is spotted in the distance. A fire is lit to attract attention and the family breathe a sigh of relief when the ship sails in their direction. On board are six Pacific Islanders, all searching for work in the hope of earning monies for their own families back home.
As the settlers become acquainted with these folk from foreign soil, it is noticed that young Albert is missing. Initially it is thought that he has lost track of time but as dusk approaches, Mrs Peacock raises serious concerns for her son’s safety. As sunlight rises over the island, Albert still is not be found and they organise a search party, dividing the area between the newcomers and the remaining Peacock family members.
Kalala, one of the newcomers, tells us his side of the story, giving us a wonderfully different perspective on the happenings on this remote island.
‘I wake again and again and wish we had never come to this place. It seems to me that we have broken into the middle of a story and now we are part of it.’
As the search continues over many days and the weeks pass by, the story reveals itself to the reader through the eyes and words of all.
Mr Peacock’s Possessions is a novel with many layers. It is dark, mysterious and, at times, quite eerie as Lydia Syson brings the sounds and harshness of this rather hostile island to life. It is an unforgiving and brutal environment to survive in and as it’s residents soon discover, there are secrets to be revealed. I have seen Mr Peacock’s Possessions described as ‘The Swiss Family Robinson meets Lord of the Flies’ by Wendy Moore and I honestly think that is a very apt description. There is a foreboding presence within this tale that stays with you throughout. It’s a great read for all who love historical fiction with quite a menacing sting to it’s tail but it is also filled with hope and endurance.
A beautifully expressed novel by Lydia Syson with an uncompromising narrative, Mr Peacock’s Possessions contains a very vivid portrayal of the life and challenges faced by the early colonial settlers.
Enthralling. Unflinching. Ominous.
(c) Swirl and Thread
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