Books by Nancy Peacock

The Life and Times of Persimmon Wilson by Nancy Peacock
Released: June 1, 2013

"A beautiful, heartbreaking tale of slavery that features a relatable cast of characters."
Peacock (A Broom of One's Own, 2008) offers a tragic love story set in 19th-century America. Read full book review >
Released: Nov. 1, 1999

An amiable family saga set on a plantation in the Old and New South—replete with lust, theft, miscegenation, snobbery, betrayal, and many other traditional family values—by North Carolina novelist Peacock (Life Without Water, 1996). It's almost natural to expect old houses to be haunted, especially grand old houses and most especially in the South. Roseberry, the Redd family plantation in North Carolina, is not quite baroque enough to make the Snopeses feel at home, but it has its secrets and it hides them pretty well from the outside world. China Redd, the family housekeeper, seems to know them better than anyone. She's a direct descendant of Cally Redd, a black slave who bore the son of Roseberry's white owner Jennis Redd. When Jennis's jealous wife has Cally's son sold off the plantation while he's still a young boy, Cally steals a pair of abalone earrings from Mrs. Redd in revenge. The earrings are secretly passed down from one generation to the next and become a kind of totem of independence for the (black) Redd family, asserting their secret autonomy from their white master in the big house across the road. Three generations after Cally, China Redd works at Roseberry, cleaning and cooking for white people who are actually distant cousins of hers. By the time she's an old woman, the plantation is owned by solitary Coyle Redd, a lonely bachelor who despised his abusive and hates the home he grew up in. Coyle puts Roseberry up for auction and buys himself a Winnebago, thereby ending the history of the Redds of Roseberry once and for all—or so he supposes. But China is still in the house across the road, and the abalone earrings has passed on to her new granddaughter, Cally Redd. Not as sentimental as it could have been, Peacock's saga is actually a fascinating, carefully drawn portrait of life across five generations, full of personality and told with genuine vigor. Read full book review >
Released: Oct. 3, 1996

First-novelist Peacock offers a canny child's-eye view of a euphoric but ultimately fragile experiment in communal living. The narrator, Cedar, was born in 1969 in North Carolina. Her mother Sara, devastated at the time by the recent death of her brother Jimmie in Vietnam, had succumbed to the seductions of bandana-wearing Sol and had moved with him into an abandoned house without plumbing, where the two lived off the proceeds of Sol's dope dealing. Sol draws on the walls and paints the floor like a rainbow, and when Cedar is born, he has 60 friends over to celebrate. When Cedar is four, Sara puts her mattress in the van and she and Cedar leave—the house is cold and Sol passes out too often. Heading into Taos, the van breaks down, and handsome Daniel gives Sara and Cedar a lift. He has a girlfriend but falls for Sara anyway, and soon the trio is headed back to North Carolina, to the house that they're sure Sol couldn't have kept up on his own. Acquaintances Woody and Elaine and their two kids move in, too. Elaine bakes, Woody makes pots, and the children become best friends, and Sara is pregnant with Daniel's baby. Then Woody invites griping, unpleasant Topaz to stay, and suddenly Daniel is reading poetry to her, and then he's moved into her bedroom. Sara takes to her own bed, where she's nursed by Cedar; Daniel skulks in Topaz's room, sneaking down at night to steal food. And then Topaz is pregnant. She departs, and Daniel wants back into the family, but the house burns down and everyone's idyll is over. College-age Cedar's recollections are both wise and forgiving and add up to a complex blend of undiluted nostalgia for those anarchic days with the warmth of her extended family, and a clear-eyed view of the complexities within that edenic world. In an accomplished debut, a dead-on rendition of the idealism and the emotional flux of an untraditional household. Read full book review >