cover image Pride of the Peacock

Pride of the Peacock

Stephanie S. Tolan. Scribner Book Company, $13.95 (185pp) ISBN 978-0-684-18489-0

Tolan's novel stands out as admirably written, unsensationalized, even lightened by humor although the subject is ""the unthinkable.'' Whitney Whitehurst (14) thinks of nothing else but the chances of nuclear war when she reads Jonathan Schell's The Fate of the Earth. The menace hangs over the girl's head as she hugs her dear little brother, contemplating his annihilation, the destruction of the planet and of all life. Whitney gets no assurance from friends or family; she half-listens to her pal Paul, who advises her to join anitwar groups. The two visit a favorite spot from childhood, an abandoned estate in ruins where they are surprised to see a peacock. Later, Whitney meets sculptor Theodora Bourke, who has brought the old house and grounds. She's planning to restore the place and Whitney helps. As they labor to clear the overgrown garden, Theodora tells about her struggle to carry on after her husband was murdered in the city that she has fled, to start over in a new town. Whitney, Paul and Theodora become close, providing each other with the hope symbolized in the decision to give the peacock a mate: Life does go on. (12up)