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The Peacock Feast

4.10  ·  Rating details ·  58 ratings  ·  36 reviews
The Peacock Feast opens on a June day in 1916 when Louis C. Tiffany, the eccentric glass genius, dynamites the breakwater at Laurelton Hall—his fantastical Oyster Bay mansion, with columns capped by brilliant ceramic blossoms and a smokestack hidden in a blue-banded minaret—so as to foil the town from reclaiming the beach for public use. The explosion shakes both the apple ...more
Hardcover, 304 pages
Published February 5th 2019 by Sarah Crichton Books
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4.10  · 
Rating details
 ·  58 ratings  ·  36 reviews

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Family sagas can encompass so many feelings, so much emotional turmoil, and so much questioning whether you have made over the course of a lifetime, the right decisions.

In The Peacock Feast we learn of the webs of the Tiffany Family and the stories of one group of people who worked for them. Tiffany was garish, wealthy, and use to having things exactly how he wanted them. He had a definite affinity for peacocks and had many strolling his grounds. He even went so far as having a peacock feast on
Feb 16, 2019 rated it it was ok
I was lured into this book by the mention of Louis Comfort Tiffany, but I’m afraid that it was too women’s fiction for me. The book was about a married couple who worked for Tiffany. I didn’t care about this family and their saga. I was also put off by the author’s writing style which kept switching between present and past tense. And then there were all those convoluted sentences, especially when delivering irrelevant details, for example: “That she’d traveled all the way to Oyster Bay to see D ...more
Jan 07, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: netgalley
Lisa Gornick's The Peacock Feast is a multi-generational historical fiction novel with a deep and universal theme that can speak across the generations. Gornick's characters take the burden of the past into their futures, cutting them off from a full life. Suppressed memories are as constricting as those which consume us; neither allow us to risk a full life.

The Peacock Feast was Louis Tiffany's "performance art" dinner for a select group of top-tier society men, every minutia controlled by him.
Christina Kline
Jun 04, 2018 rated it it was amazing
An explosive moment that shatters generations, a buried trauma, the unspoken weight of history: In this original and incandescently rich novel, two women, strangers to each other, hold pieces of a puzzle they can only construct together. Masterfully weaving fact and fiction to paint the evolution of a family over the sweep of a century, Lisa Gornick plumbs the connections that transform lives in a book that is deeply engrossing and elegantly nuanced.
Through the entirety of the 20th century to today, this remarkable story follows Prudence, the daughter of Louis C. Tiffany's prized gardener, her estranged brother Randall and his granddaughter, Grace whom Prudence only recently met. With fine detail, Lisa Gornick's novel embodies the true essence of the family portrait through captivating prose, rich in description and testimony. This is a truly sweeping family saga.
Melissa Dee
Jan 26, 2019 rated it it was amazing
The pace of this novel is slow, almost meticulous. We are moving at Patience’s pace. She is a very old woman, and moves very slowly, weighted down by age and by her memories. She looks out of her NYC window and sees not just the New Jersey skyline, but the skyline as it has changed over the last 70 years. Patience, who has never had children of her own, is visited, almost as a miracle, by her great-niece, Grace, the daughter of her brother’s son. These two women with names of virtue, explore the ...more
Karen Kay
I received this from in exchange for a review.

The Peacock Feast opens on a June day in 1916. Nearly a century later, Prudence receives an unexpected visit at her New York apartment from Grace, her (unknown) great niece.

I couldn't get a grasp on this, it was all over the place and I never felt truly engaged in the story.

Sep 05, 2018 rated it really liked it
The Peacock Feast is a very enjoyable voyage through the last hundred years in the company of Prudence. It is quite sad in places. Prudence doesn't take all the chances at happiness she has, but maybe that is why she lives so long. It reminded me a bit of Amy Human Heart. There is a terrific description of the talented but cruel Mr Tiffany and his beautiful estate. Tiffany is key to a mystery that is only solved towards the end of the book. Four stars.
Lolly K Dandeneau
Nov 05, 2018 rated it really liked it
via my blog:
'Most of Prudence’s past is shrouded with the shapes of events no longer distinct, or faded with the emotional color gone.'

Prudence O’Connor is three weeks past her one hundred and first birthday when she receives a call from a stranger named Grace, whose grandfather Randall O’Connor, she believes, is Prudence’s long absent brother. Prudence and Randall’s Irish immigrant parents worked as servants for Louis C. Tiffany, artist and designer best k
Jan 31, 2019 rated it it was amazing
I love this book! The front and back stories are riveting and beautifully entwined. So many historical novels focus on the “front of the house” while Gornick’s novel gives us the long view of the lives of the people who work in the back of the house. Told with grace and beauty, the book leads to a riveting and emotionally powerful (and satisfying) end.
Nancy Star
Jan 29, 2019 rated it it was amazing
This book grabbed me from the start and kept me thoroughly enchanted to the very end. Loved it! Highly recommend!
Joseph Burgo
Dec 17, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Author Lisa Gornick combines psychological insight, limpid prose, and compelling plot in this wonderful new novel. I was privileged to read an advanced copy; when I finished, I went back and started over because of a surprise revelation at the end. No spoilers here, but I didn't realize at the outset that I was reading a kind of mystery novel. The clues are there beginning on page one, so pay attention! When you reach the very satisfying conclusion, all the pieces will fall into place and I expe ...more
Dec 01, 2018 rated it it was ok
Shelves: netgalley
I received this book from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

Didn't feel the love that others did. In a few words--grim, no joy.

2.5 but cannot round up and say it was good. Still, the writing was fine--and in a few instances, some quite good descriptions and observations/social commentary. BUT. Not enough to sustain my interest. Nonetheless, I persevered and plowed through.

The setting:

"Spanning the twentieth century and three continents, The Peacock Feast ricochets from Manhattan to San
Jan 27, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: netgalley
Via my book blog at

Prudence, the main character in Lisa Gornick's new novel, is 101 years old. Her earliest memories are of her father, Randall, working in C.T. Tiffany's garden in Sag Harbor. When Tiffany blew up part of the promenade to prevent the public from access to 'his' beach, the family moved to a mansion off Fifth Avenue.

Both of Prudence's parents worked for Tiffany in the mansion, and Prudence grew up there until a tragedy occurred and she and her
A quiet, contemplative novel about an old (101!) woman in New York, remembering her life, meeting a long-lost relative she never knew existed, uncovering some family secrets, and giving us readers some dirt on late-Gilded Age Louis Tiffany. This book put me in mind of Lillian Boxfish Takes a Walk or a sedentary A Man Called Ove (with less drama).

Prudence was born at the Tiffany estate out at Long Island. Not because she's a member of that family oh no! Her mother is a maid and her father is a ga
Marji Morris
I marked this book as contemporary and historical fiction both because it spans a century or more in untangling a family web of relationships.

Let me say that I really liked it. It's probably a 4.5 but you can't click on a half star, lol. What I didn't like were the jumps in time from present to sort of past to way past to present and over again. It's a fine narrative technique, but I've read soooooo many books lately that use it that I'm really getting annoyed by it.

There are a lot of characte
Jill Paulson
Feb 04, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: first-reads
Thank you to Sarah Crichton Books for the opportunity to read this book through Goodreads First Reads! I will admit...I had this book for a while on my shelf and put off reading as I really didn't care for the cover design (I know...I know!), but am SO GLAD that I finally got over it and picked up this book!

The Peacock Feast is definitely one of the best multi-generational, historical fiction books that I have read in a while...all tied together through the 100+ year life of the main character,
Dec 16, 2018 rated it liked it
Shelves: giveaway-wins
Thanks to Goodreads and Farrar, Straus and Giroux for the free, uncorrected proof.

The story, and the many stories within the story, are interesting enough but the overall tone of this book is achingly sad. Maybe Christmastime wasn't the right time for me to read this...

I'm not as in love with this as others seem to be, although I did mostly enjoy it. Some parts flowed beautifully and at these times I couldn't put it down, but for me other parts read more like a history book and it was a chore
Lisa Zeidner
Jan 26, 2019 rated it it was amazing
This excellent historical novel is not like other historical novels you may have read, where you can feel how much research went into the telling and the pile-up of facts and details threatens to overwhelm the story. Gornick stays focused on the emotions of her characters--emotions that are often subtle and half-understood. Pru is a wonderful character, quiet and self-effacing yet strongly-rendered (and that's quite hard to achieve--ask Jane Austen, about MANSFIELD PARK). This is a moving portra ...more
Jan 30, 2019 rated it really liked it
This historical novel revolves around Prudence, the daughter of the gardener on the Louis Tiffany estate in Oyster Bay. It has many details and covers the period from near the end of WWI to present time when Prudence, now 101 years old, begins remincing after she meets the granddaughter of her long-estranged older brother.

This book is described as a sweeping family drama and it is certainly that and more. The pacing of the book allowed the author to provide us details of the various venues cover
Sally Stieglitz
Dec 06, 2018 rated it it was amazing
This is a lush and intricate imagining of the divergent lives of siblings Prudence and Randall, born the children of Irish immigrant servants on a wealthy NY estate. A hint of family mystery unfolds gently over a century through poignant stories of class, opportunity, dignity, dependence, and moral courage. Their choices are often tinged with regret as well as a sense of inevitability. Gornick's writing is compelling and reflective, holding a mirror from which we cannot and do not want to look a ...more
Jan 28, 2019 rated it it was ok
Shelves: giveaway
Read this one compliments of a giveaway sponsored by Farrar, Straus and Giroux. First off, the cover art is wonderful - kudos to Na Kim. The book itself... Frankly, it took a while to figure out the relationships due to run on sentences and constantly changing possessives. Once I had the characters sorted out in my mind, I wasn't sure if I liked many of them. Yes, my heart broke for their long history of family tragedies but it was difficult to have a connection to them. All in all, this was a d ...more
Cj Zawacki
Feb 09, 2019 rated it it was amazing
The PEACOCK FEAST, by Lisa Gornick, takes the reader to a time of extravagant time of Louis C Tiffany's gardener daughter Prudence. Prudence age 101, has just received a visit from a grandniece she know nothing about. Her actions from today now take her back through her life. Memories of love, work choices, and family now reemerge to tell a story of a century of life lived.
Mary Kay Zuravleff
Dec 08, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Gornick has an unparalleled ability to capture character and class. With this novel, she expands her storytelling to move 101-year-old Prudence and her grandniece Grace through a century of history, from the splendor of a Tiffany mansion to the squalor of a Texas prison. Turns out, what you don't know will hurt you--and your descendants.
Polly Krize
Feb 07, 2019 rated it really liked it
I received an ARC of this book in exchange for an honest review.

So well written and readable. Across the many families involved, decisions and their outcomes affect so many people in this book. From the mansion of the Tiffany family to death row Texas, secrets kept hidden create a family portrait crossing generations, affecting lives in multiple ways. Exceptional writing, and recommended.
Dec 06, 2018 rated it it was amazing
The Peacock Feast is extraordinary. The writing is lyrical and beautiful and the storytelling, absorbing. The characters are so well conceived that I got to know each of them, young and old and across generations. I look forward to reading it again and again!
Jill Smolowe
Dec 07, 2018 rated it it was amazing
All the lyricism and psychological acuity readers know to expect in a novel from Lisa Gornick, wrapped in a riveting tale that traverses continents, spans generations, and plumbs the human heart.
Feb 09, 2019 rated it it was ok
Angie Kim
Nov 29, 2018 rated it it was amazing
I loved this novel. It's a dizzyingly complex masterpiece that ping-pongs between the present (2013), when 101-year-old Prudence meets her grand-niece Grace, and the past, which starts in 1914 and follows Prudence and her family over the next century. It’s truly an epic saga, but told with so much care, with such intimacy, that we never get lost or confused in the transitions between past and present. And this alternating past-present structure heightens the element of suspense and makes this my ...more
rated it it was amazing
Dec 11, 2018
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Lisa Gornick has been hailed by NPR as “one of the most perceptive, compassionate writers of fiction in America…immensely talented and brave.” She is the author of 4 novels: TINDERBOX, LOUISA MEETS BEAR, and THE PEACOCK FEAST—all published by Sarah Crichton Books/ Farrar, Straus and Giroux, and Picador; and A PRIVATE SORCERY, published by Algonquin. Her stories and essays have appeared widely, inc ...more