The Peacock Spring

A welcome visit from Shelly and Ron, to collect the platinum anniversary photographs, broke the monotony of a morning spent on too-long-deferred paperwork. We enjoyed the usual ensuing conversation, naturally involving a certain amount of reminiscing.

Afterwards, beset by the raging gale-force winds, I visited the postbox.

Hanging baskets grounded 1Hanging baskets grounded 2

Despite Jackie’s distressed efforts to bring the hanging baskets and raised pots to protective ground level

Begonia fallenGeraniums and lobelia fallen

some were repeatedly blown over and their contents broken.

We haven’t dared approach the rose garden.


In 1975 I bought a first edition of Rumer Godden’s ‘The Peacock Spring’. In 1996 the novel was filmed for television. Directed by Christopher Morahan and starring Peter Egan, Nareen Andrews, Hattie Morahan, Ravi Kapoor, with Madhur Jaffrey, this production was well received. It still took me until this year to read the book. I finished it today.

Set in 1959, a slow fuse burns with ever-increasing tension, until the explosive finale of the tale of a tragic relationship. The author’s trademark poetic description and insightful characterisation enables her to build an enthralling story of a flawed family and the conflict of cultural mores. I will not give away details, but can say that the picture to the left here shows the father with his two English daughters who have been brought to India to provide a veneer of respect to his relationship with the woman portrayed.

The Peacock Spring jacket

MacMillan’s publications comes in a striking book jacket designed by David Baxter.

It is not unusual for me to take forty years to read a book in my possession. As with this one, I sometimes wonder why it took me so long.

Cottage pie

This evening we dined on Jackie’s sublime cottage pie, crisp orange carrots and green cabbage. I drank more of the Cuvée St Jainé and Jackie enjoyed Blanche de Namur, a different Belgian wheat beer. The filmy quality of the above photograph comes from the wisps of steam rising from the dish, possibly encouraged by the layer of smoked cheddar cheese over the mashed potato topping.

38 responses to “The Peacock Spring”

  1. Hope there wasn’t too much wind damage. I, too, have my very own copy of “The Peacock Spring.” Rumer Godden was such a terrific writer. Finally, to borrow from my Yankee husband, that cottage pie looks pretty darned good. (His highest praise for food.)

  2. Those gale force winds must be spinning around the globe – they were here last night too! I am impressed with the amount of time you can leave a book unread Derrick – I have one that glares out at me from my diminished shelves which has only been there for five years. I wonder what it will do at forty?

  3. What a pity for the garden, after so much care and work. Hope not too much damage? I have a lot of books piling up beside the bed, hope they are not still here in forty years or they will outlast me! As it is, I wish to find the time to re read many classics still in my cupboard, I read them so early in my childhood I feel the need to revisit and recall them. But the days are always filled.

      • There’s an eclectic mix in the cupboard for sure e.g. Ben-Hur, Tom Brown’s School days, Uncle Tom’s Cabin, Gulliver’s Travels, Black Beauty, Alice in Wonderland and Through the Looking Glass, Biggles, plus all the other usual suspects. Someone’s swiped my copy of White Fang – which came up in conversation the other day – plus Anne of Green Gables, and all but one of my Louisa May Alcott’s. Then there are all the books I didn’t hang on to – Moby Dick, Pilgrim’s Progress, Silas Marner, Catcher in the Rye, etc, etc. As a new author, I am starting to get that question “which book influenced you the most?” – and the real answer is . . I can’t remember one blessed phrase from any of them! Except the Jaberwocky poem in Alice maybe. And if that influenced me greatly, then I shouldn’t be admitting it out loud 🙂 . . . Oh, by the way, I have a gorgeous book called “Murgatroyd Started It” by BARONESS Elizabeth Beck, all about her pet sloth. That did leave me with a fascination for those furry critters. – I could go on, but I think you get my problem?

  4. Strong winds to clear the air… And the bookshelf it seems! 🙂 Do hope the rose garden remains intact! Cottage pie is my all time favorite and Jackie’s looks absolutely delicious! It’s now 1h20 here and I now feel like supper!… Thanks! 🙂 ha ha! I’m off to the kitchen….

  5. Years ago, the friend who introduced me to Godden also introduced me to Elizabeth Goudge, a novel called Herb of Grace. Perhaps you would like that one as well…so sorry about the tipped pots. Hope the plants did alright.

  6. I like what the back cover says and so I want to read this book as well. I’m putting a little bit of pressure on myself to read the books you write about here. Silly, I know, but I sometimes do silly things like that.

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