Sunday, 18 July 2010

Amelia Dee and the Peacock Lamp by Odo Hirsch

July 2010, Frances Lincoln
240 pages, Paperback
Review copy


Clouds: 3
Smiles: 5
Tissues: 1
Nayuleska's recommended rating: ♥♥♥♥♥

Summary from Frances Lincoln

Amelia Dee lives in a house on Marburg Street, with a rare Peacock Lamp outside her bedroom door. Her father is an inventor, her mother is a sculptor, and the enigmatic L K Vishwanath practises yoga in her garden. Amelia herself has a lively curiosity and a talent for writing. 

Intrigued by Mr Vishwanath and his one-and-only student, Amelia stumbles into the secret life of Princess Parvin Kha-Douri. Why does Mr Vishwanath bother to teach such an unpleasant woman? And why does this tragic princess share Amelia's fascination for the Peacock Lamp? In solving the mystery, Amelia discovers more than she ever imagined about history, philosophy, creativity, pride and - above all - the power of stories. 

It seems appropriate that I'm writing this review at the weekend. It's the kind of book to curl up with on a lazy day, whether the sun is shining, or there are rain clouds threatening to rain. What is a little hard to see from this view of the cover is that the peacock illustration through the middle of the cover has is in gold.

Amelia never knew where her curiosity would lead her. It lands her in a little trouble, and she earns a lesson of guilt and repentance. She doesn't understand the ways of the world: she often sits with Mr Vishwanath, not saying a thing. When she does ask questions, he gives strange answers that she doesn't fully understand at first. But over time, and a lot of interesting exploits, she gains the knowledge of compassion.

Her family are absolutely nuts in the artist way, very caught up in their own passions. Amelia seems relatively normal - naturally I would say writing is normal! She's a sweet girl, with friends who have their faults that are examined in the story. It is her faults which make her so appealing, I believe a lot of readers can relate to the lessons Amelia learns.

That isn't to say the book is preachy, the lessons come across subtly. I was caught up in the way the story was told: the voice held me captivated as I read about the lamp and all the creatures on it. It reminded me of a picture at home which fascinated me when I was younger. There wasn't much to the picture, just a girl swinging (nothing elaborate as the lamp) but I would make up stories about it. Amelia's inquisitiveness and creativity makes me hope there will be further books about her.

Similar reads: Cicada Summer by Kate Constable (review coming soon)

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