Book Review: Against a Peacock Sky

Against a Peacock Sky written by Monica Connell. Published by Penguin Books (Viking) in 1991.

Monica Connell grew up in Northern Ireland and is an anthropologist who went to live in a rural village in Nepal. She lived and worked for two years with a Nepali family, sharing their celebrations, their hardships, their food and their hard labour in the fields to provide a subsistence living. One family took her in, sharing their everyday lives on a very personal level with her, allowing her to virtually become one of the family.

Monica witnessed first hand the villagers’ way of life. She learned how to care for the animals, how to plant and harvest rice and the best way to hunt a boar. She relates the significance of their many religious ceremonies, beliefs and festivals. She relates – without any hint of being judgmental – the importance of various customs employed to appease the local gods in order to have a successful crop or produce healthy animals.

This is a fascinating account of life in rural Nepal as it has been for many centuries and had remained largely untouched by outside influences. Here and there in her narrative, however, there are hints of change in their somewhat cloistered existence. Outside pressures were beginning to show. For example, one young man finds work building roads in nearby India, and he leaves permanently. The old ways were beginning to change, and I suspect if the author returned to that village today there would be many more changes apparent.

I would suspect that this book is now out of print. I bought mine via the internet as a used copy after I had experienced a touch of Nepali life when I went to visit there in 2006. To read more of my impressions of life in Nepal, go to my Travel Blog, then go to the Contents on the sidebar, or click on several of the Categories, also on the sidebar.


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