Has a book ever reminded you of a dream you once had? That happened for me when I read The Peacock Emporium last year. The book lit a fire under me in a time where I was grasping at straws, desperately trying to find a new flame.
I once knew I wanted to open a bookstore. I dreamed of all the things I could do with it. I would have a coffee shop in the back. A wall of thrift books. I'd have a shelf of books recommended by me and beside it, one of books written by me. There would be book-themed decor and interesting finds. All the different things I loved about the best bookshops I've ever visited.
Somewhere along the way, I gave up on the dream or at least pushed it to the side. I said "someday" and "on the side." I forgot that I have a God who loves my dreams and gives me dreams so that I can use them to live out His plan.
When He began to tell me I wasn't meant to do youth ministry as a career, it was a small feeling at first. It was that quiet voice at the back of your head that says "what are you doing?" "you hate this, why do you keep at it?" and "this is not what you are supposed to be doing!" I could feel that something was wrong but I didn't know what it was. And I didn't know what was right.
It was as a counselor at summer camp that I felt Him calling me back to my dream of opening a bookstore, to my love of writing and desire to publish my book. You can read more about my ministry and dreams on the My Ministry page.
It was not long after that I read The Peacock Emporium and began to feel that desire churn inside me once again.
I expected The Peacock Emporium to be Historical Fiction like many I had read before with timelines both in the present and past. The blurb talks about glamorous debutante Athene Forster in the sixties and her struggling daughter, Suzanna Peacock in the present.
The novel does start off with historical fiction. A story is woven about Athene Forster who meets Duglas Fairley-Hulme and decides to settle down. Until she decides not to settle down any longer.
Flash to the future where 85% of the novel is located. Suzanna and her husband are struggling after she could not control her addiction to shopping. They have moved to a small town near her parents' estate (the Fairley-Hulme estate to be exact). And she decides to open a little store. What kind of store, you may ask? Well, it is all kinds of stores. There is coffee. There are antiques. There is a painting of her mother hung on the wall (not for sale). There are earrings and other baubles and a chandelier maybe. There is anything Suzanna decides to buy and resell. It is a shop that creates a charming aesthetic and an even more charming culture for the people there.
I loved the book. It was a story of heartbreak and love. A story of learning to be oneself and trying to learn who that self is. Each of the characters in the book was well-developed (in my opinion). They had their own flaws and had to learn to both accept them and grow in them. They began to see who they were and who they wanted to be. There were things in the novel that didn't model good behavior and that I would NEVER get behind but there were also elements that were beautiful and which I loved reading about.
And, of course, I loved the store.
I don't want to start a store that sells random things but I do want to create a bookstore that has the same culture that Suzanna and her friends are able to create in The Peacock Emporium. Even better because it will be real and will be a place for youth who don't necessarily have a place to be. I loved reading the way that Suzanna and her friends created the monthly window displays and it inspired me to think of monthly window displays that would be fun to create. The more I thought about my potential store, the more I was inspired. The more I was inspired, the more I began to see that I could dream. That I could go after the things I really wanted. That I could bring youth ministry and serving the Lord into those things too if I really tried.