The Peacock Spring

Rumer Godden

09 February 2023
336 pages


The Peacock Spring is a beautiful and heartbreaking novel of loss of innocence and coming-of-age from Rumer Godden, the acclaimed author of Black Narcissus and The Greengage Summer.

At fifteen and twelve, the daughters of diplomat have already seen more of the world than most girls of their age. But when Una and her younger sister, Halcyon, are summoned from their English boarding school to join their father in New Delhi, they encounter a reality unlike anything they have ever experienced.

For Hal, India is a glorious adventure, filled with exotic sights and sounds, and a host of interesting new people. But Una feels like an outsider in this world of ingrained racial prejudice and cultural elitism left over from the days of the British Raj.

Then Ravi, a young Indian gardener, brings a welcome light into Una’s life, relieving her sadness and loneliness with poetry and compassion. But what begins as a simple friendship soon blossoms into a love forbidden by society, threatening to end in scandal and disaster.

Adolescent romance turns to sexual passion, then turmoil, as Una’s coming-of-age exposes racial and social prejudices in 1950s India. The richness and colour of Delhi are in stark contrast with repressed British order in this lush, expansive novel where everyone is hiding something.
One of the finest English novelists.