First, I am familiar with Jojo Moyes and have read almost all of her novels. Some of them I absolutely adore: Me Before You, Silver Bay, The Girl You Left Behind and The Ship of Brides, others I liked a bit less: The Last Letter from Your Lover, couple I didn’t like at all: Sheltering Rain and Foreign Fruit. Nevertheless, I like Jojo Moyes as a writer and read every book she publishes. Therefore, I was looking forward to reading The Peacock Emporium, as soon as I saw it in a bookstore.
The novel opens with a story from the 60’s. It’s a story of Vivi who is in love with a handsome and rich young man Douglas (who sees her as his friend or little sister). Soon, Douglas marries beautiful and wild Athene. Vivi is heartbroken. But Douglas is not happy as he wished to be. Athene has her own vision of marriage and it’s not what Douglas was expecting. She is partying, comes home late and soon vanishes with her lover, leaving Douglas an unexpected gift. Vivi stays by his side from then on, supporting and loving him. They go on with their lives, raising their children and keeping a terrible truth about Athene from their eldest daughter Suzanna.
Suzanna is a thirty-four-year-old woman, married to Neil. They just moved to the countryside after struggling with economic difficulties. Suzanna is not happy about leaving her fancy city life and moving to her childhood village. Her relationship with Neil is not great, he desperately wants children and she… well, she doesn’t know what she wants (for the majority of the book, I tried to figure out what exactly does this woman want?!). Suzanna also in a bad relationship with her entire family, and uses any excuse to avoid them.
OMG, my hands are shaking because I have never hated a character more than I hate Suzanna! She is so self-centered, selfish and disrespectful to her family. She does not care about breaking her stepmother’s heart or making her husband’s life miserable, she only cares about herself and the coffee shop she opens. Why would she even open a coffee shop in the first place, if she hates people? The whole point of a coffee shop is working with customers, but she was like: “I want a shop! ANY SHOP! I do not care what to sell there; I will sell every piece of junk I can find in my closet… and coffee! But I hate people, so I’ll just make a poker face and hope nobody starts a conversation with me.”
Suzanna contently whining, complaining, demanding and manipulating. She makes everybody feel guilty about everything they say or do. When Jessie, young village girl starts working in Suzanna’s shop it seems like she finally opens up to people and starts a friendship, but I don’t buy it. It doesn’t make sense to me that Suzanna would genuine like and care for somebody.
I feel very sorry for her husband Neil. He is a very nice person; it seemed that he tried to work things out between them. He tried to reconcile Suzanna with her family. He even agreed to risk their money again and open Suzanna a shop she wants, just to make her feel better. They both went through a difficult time, but it never occurs to her that this is a difficult time to Neil too (he lost his prestigious job and starts his career from scratch). Yeah, why would she care to support her husband and work things out together?! Poor Neil desperately wants children. Well, they are married for many years and he’s now 40 years old, so why not? But nooo!!! The self-centered Suzanna can’t take it if it’s not all about her ALL the time. I hoped Neil would stop wasting his time on her and find himself a nice, loving, SANE woman.
The other person I was sorry for in this novel was Vivi, Suzanna’s stepmother. She does everything for her family and she is not appreciated at all! At first, I had a feeling that her husband Douglas does her a favor by being with her. He and his mom treat her like a maid, showing no respect. I don’t understand how ungrateful they can be, especially after what we learn about their past and everything Vivi has done for him, the kids and his annoying mother. Luckily, for Douglas, he gets to the point, when he realizes who is wife is and redeems himself in my eyes, by showing some appreciation.
I like complicated and complex characters. How they learn and change through the book, but Suzanna is annoying in the end, as she was in the beginning. I don’t think she realizes how she treats people and she always has excuses for herself by blaming everybody else for her unhappiness.
Everybody told her to stop complaining! But Suzanna is pissed at everyone and everything and she can’t even explain why!!! She is such a pessimistic, whiny, playing a victim and honestly, I don’t think she deserved a happy ending.
I don’t have any good feeling about this novel. I’m very disappointed in the unfairness is done in the end.