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Harnessing Peacocks Paperback – 3 May 2007

4.5 out of 5 stars 20 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Paperback: 272 pages
  • Publisher: Vintage; New Ed edition (3 May 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0099501686
  • ISBN-13: 978-0099501688
  • Product Dimensions: 12.9 x 1.8 x 19.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (20 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 83,382 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description

Review

"Delightful, intelligent entertainment" (Sunday Telegraph)

"Tremendously lively, very funny, touching, spirited" (Susan Hill)

"Hugely enjoyable" (Nicholas Shakespeare The Times)

"Warm, wise, witty, sexy" (Boston Globe)

Book Description

A single mother's scandalous past returns to complicate the present in this deftly-plotted comedy by the beloved Mary Wesley.

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Customer Reviews

4.5 out of 5 stars
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Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This is the first Mary Wesley book I have read and it won't be the last. The whole book just drifted along nicely and the mini-dramas were all taken in their stride by the characters. Much of the book is dependent on the author's charasterisation of each person and this was really well done. I felt myself supporting the main character's lifestyle choices and metaphorically cheering for her though in reality I would not come across someone quite like her. Having finished the book after a few late nights I am going to do a character map of who knows who and how, just for the fun of it! Throughout the book there were only three characters who were presented as being unredeemable, and they were really nasty people.

As someone who usually reads crime fiction I wanted to break away from this and have chosen well in this book. I would thoroughly recommend this book to anyone and intend to buy it as a Christmas present for someone.
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By Susie B TOP 100 REVIEWER on 31 Dec. 2015
Format: Paperback
First published in 1985, Mary Wesley's third novel 'Harnessing Peacocks' centres on Hebe Rutter, a young woman who finds herself unexpectedly pregnant and faced with being forced into a termination by her well-to-do, snobbish and controlling family who are aghast at the fact that she has allowed herself to become pregnant and is unable to name the father of her child. Hebe manages to escape her family's plans for her by running away from home and her story really begins twelve years later, when she is living in a seaside town in Cornwall with her son, Silas, who during term time attends an expensive boarding school.  In order to pay for Silas's education, Hebe uses her interest in cookery to train to Cordon Bleu standard and then uses this talent to cook for wealthy elderly ladies, and she also uses her very attractive appearance and her talent for lovemaking to work part-time as a rather expensive "tart". With just a few men in her exclusive "syndicate", and two or three regular elderly ladies for whom she cooks delicious meals, Hebe manages to pay her way and give her much-loved son the best start in life she can, congratulating herself on keeping her life in separate, well-organised compartments.  However, when Silas, instead of spending his entire summer break with Hebe as usual, is invited on a sailing holiday where he meets the offspring of one of Hebe's lovers, a series of events occur which threaten to upset the balance of her well-ordered life. There are, of course, other strands to this amusing and entertaining story, but those are for potential readers to discover for themselves.

As always with the marvellous Mary Wesley, this is a witty, satirical and amusing story and one that is, of course, beautifully written.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I have read and re-read this book over the years getting enjoyment from it every time. I love the theme - young girl escapes the oppressive family who attempt to organise her life for her, concerned only with their own appearance, with no interest in her own feelings. Hebe's solution to her problem - earning a living - is clever, amusing and nicely apt, considering her family's opinion of her. That she makes such a success of her chosen career is a highly satisfying slap in the face for them..
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Mary Wesley's novels are entertaining, surprisingly immodest, and good fun. In "Harnessing Peacocks" - a classical reference to a woman snaring lovers - the central character, attractive and alluring Hebe (classical epitome of youth), 'harnesses' lovers who pay her for her sexual services. She also harnesses nice old ladies who pay her for her excellent cooking. But Hebe has a traumatic past, a son whom she adores but whose father is unknown to her apart from a 'smell'. The story is both a drama which revolves around Hebe and a gentle satire of the 'upper middle class' lovers, families, and elderly ladies who employ Hebe. The time setting is before mobile phones, computers and social media, so the pace is of a generation ago, with a sense of an even earlier, more gracious period (the lifestyle of the old ladies).

This is a novel which will appeal to older women themselves, a joyous read with lots of reasons to smile. It would be sadly out-of-date both in style and content to anyone younger than 50. So, if you're over 50 and want a light but intelligent holiday novel, this could well be it.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
I really enjoyed this novel it had a believable plot albeit I know little of the world of high class prostitution and can only assume that all things being equal you get what you pay for' I loved the fact that Mary once again cocks a snoop at the class system and Hebe has the good sense to do the same it would seem that Mary Wesley views men as mainly weak driven by sex and this novel proves that delightfully most highly recommended up there with the camomile lawn
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
An enjoyable read with an interesting and story line.Some of the subsiderary characters were very recognisable types which gave added depth to the story. The complications experienced by the heroine were amusing and the fact that to an extent the ending was left fairly open made it more believable.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
One of my go back to novels for rest and relaxation, Mary Wesley's painting of people and classes is not to be underestimated. Every time I read it I find something new to smile at, not least the impeccable style and grammar that is a joy to behold.
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