Mr Peacock’s Possessions

Mr Peacock’s Possessions, by Lydia Syson

‘Swiss Family Robinson meets Lord of the Flies in Lydia Syson’s superb and engrossing book.’

(Wendy Moore, author of The Mesmerist)

Lydia Syson has already won a legion of teenage fans for her carefully crafted historical YA novels, which received critical acclaim and Mr Peacock’s Possessions will be her adult fiction debut.

Her previous books included Liberty’s Fire, (Carnegie-nominated, Telegraph best YA titles of 2015) A World Between Us (Guardian Children’s Fiction Prize longlisted, Branford Boase Highly Commended), That Burning Summer (Independent Best Books 2013).


Set on a stunning desert Island Mr Peacock’s Possessions is a beautifully imagined novel about possession, power and loss of innocence. The novel is also loosely based on the incredible true story of one of the author’s ancestors, Tom Bell, who settled an uninhabited pacific island with his family in 1878 and lived there for 30 years. Lydia has used this story as a jumping off point to explore everything from modern day slavery and migration, to religious faith, belonging and parental “ownership” of children.



Oceania 1879. Lizzie Peacock and her siblings have lived a hardscrabble life since their parents brought them to settle on a remote uninhabited island in the Pacific. For two years the family has survived on next to nothing, yet Lizzie’s father Mr Peacock has not given up the particular swagger that comes from possessing a wife, children, a patch of land and hope for the future. And now, perhaps, a gang of islanders who have come to work for him.

Kalala is one of these men. A longing to see the world has brought him eight hundred miles from his isolated Polynesian home. Missionary-educated, he is shocked to find these ragged children who cannot read. Albert, Mr Peacock’s eldest son, suffers bitterly from his father’s obsessions. All he wants is to get away from him and from the island. When a ship comes, he thinks he can grab his chance.

His disappearance leaves Lizzie and her father guarding two very different secrets. As Lizzie and Kalala unpick the mystery of Albert’s disappearance, the terrible secrets that the island itself is harbouring are slowly revealed: all the certainties underpinning the life that Mr Peacock has constructed begin to unravel, with unimaginable consequences.




‘Beautifully written’ ‘an outstanding debut novel.’ (Guardian)

‘Syson brings history alive.’ (Observer)

‘A fantastic historical fiction debut.’ (Bookseller)

‘An author very much to look out for.’ (Independent Best Books)


An intimate, intense, beautifully realised novel of possession, power and
loss of innocence, 
for fans of Mister Pip and The Poisonwood Bible.

Mr Peacock’s Possessions is about possession, both literal and psychological,
and is a new take on a much-loved literary genre, the Robinsonade.


Lydia is an RLF Fellow at The Courtauld Institute of Art and a National Literacy Trust trained author she regularly blogs at The History Girls on the 6th of every month.

For more information and review copies please contact Tory Lyne-Pirkis at Midas PR | 020 7361 7879



Thank you for joining us in celebrating Mr Peacock’s Possessions.
We wish Lydia Syson the best of luck in what is sure to be an astounding literary career.

Thank you and take care, fellow bookworms,

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