Learn more about CCRLS
Reading recommendations from Novelist
Online learning resources
Cover image for London holiday
London holiday
Publication Information:
New York, N.Y. : Viking, 1998.
Physical Description:
254 pages ; 24 cm
The lives of three American women are changed by a holiday in London. Interior decorator Julia finds happiness with a lord, divorced Margo lands a doctor and socialite Les opens a business.


Call Number
Peck, R.

On Order



London Holiday is crafted with all the charm and acumen that won Richard Peck awards for his classic young-adult novels. But this time his characters are entirely grown-up--or so they think, until a carefree getaway becomes a journey of self-discovery reminiscent of Mary Wesley and Joanna Trollope.London Holiday finds three women leading ordinary lives: Lesley is a St. Louis society woman; Julia is a successful Manhattan interior designer; and Margo, a teacher, is the divorced mother of a teenager. Best friends since their Missouri childhood, they are awakened to the realities of their often dreary existences by a shocking act of violence. Now desperate for change, the three friends escape on a trip to London and the unexpected promise of new lives awaiting them. Safe in the cozy confines of Mrs. Smith-Porter's bed-and-breakfast, the women enter a gracious new world of tea in the garden, antique markets, lush countryside, and'romance.

Author Notes

Richard Peck was born in Decatur, Illinois on April 5, 1934. He received a bachelor's degree in English literature from DePauw University in 1956. After graduation, he served two years in the U.S. Army in Germany, where he worked as a chaplain's assistant writing sermons and completing paperwork. He received a master's degree in English from Southern Illinois University in 1959. He taught high school English in Illinois and New York City.

He stopped teaching in 1971 to write a novel. His first book, Don't Look and It Won't Hurt, was published in 1972 and was adapted as the 1992 film Gas Food Lodging. He wrote more than 40 books for both adults and young adults including Amanda/Miranda, Those Summer Girls I Never Met, The River Between Us, A Long Way from Chicago, A Season of Gifts, The Teacher's Funeral, Fair Weather, Here Lies the Librarian, On the Wings of Heroes, and The Best Man. A Year down Yonder won the Newbery Medal in 2001 and Are You in the House Alone? won an Edgar Award. The Ghost Belonged to Me was adapted into the film Child of Glass. He received the MAE Award in 1990 and the National Humanities Medal in 2002. He died following a long battle with cancer on May 23, 2018 at the age of 84.

(Bowker Author Biography)

Reviews 5

School Library Journal Review

YA-Lesley, Julia, and Margo became best friends in fourth grade. Lesley married the heir of a local well-to-do family who eventually moved her to the family's mansion in St. Louis. Her husband is increasingly absent, much to her relief. Julia, raised by her cold, strict grandparents and longing to escape the confines of small-town Missouri, returned home from college and inexplicably married a man she scarcely knew, only to leave him six months later for New York and art school. She is now a successful interior designer. Margo, struggling to escape near poverty and an alcoholic mother, won a scholarship to college, married a graduate student, supported his effort to achieve tenure at the university, and eventually became an elementary school teacher. Her marriage recently dissolved and she is trying to cope with an increasingly rebellious teenage daughter. The three are reunited briefly after a long separation for the funeral of Julia's grandmother. After Margo is injured during a violent crime, they realize how precious their friendship is and Lesley arranges a real reunion, a trip to London. They stay at the mysterious Mrs. Smith-Porter's elegant bed-and-breakfast and the experience dramatically changes them all. The story of these women (including Mrs. Smith-Porter) is told with understanding and humor. This author of many fine young adult novels is equally adept at capturing life in small-town America and in London's affluent Chelsea.-Molly Connally, Kings Park Library, Fairfax County, VA (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Publisher's Weekly Review

Three middle-aged American women, childhood friends from Cape Vincent, Mo., travel to London for a vacation in Peck's effervescent fourth adult novel (after This Family of Women). With them, they carry the frustrations of unfulfilled dreams. After Chicago third-grade teacher Margo Skinner Mayhew is wounded in a classroom shooting by a deranged parent, her do-gooder friend, St. Louis society matron Lesley Vogel Hockaday, convinces third musketeer, Manhattan interior designer Julia Englehardt Steadman, that they should give Margo a break from a life that has been burdened by a divorce and a churlish teenage daughter. The three, each having endured disappointment and loveless marriage, find themselves at an extraordinary B&B run by Mrs. Smith-Porter, an intriguing character whose good-natured, no-nonsense British reserve hides a past full of tribulations. Although Margo's selfish daughter has come along as a wet blanket, the three grownups manage to find unexpected and heartwarming romantic adventures, which Peck conveys with stylish brio that eschews clich‚ and sentimentality. Just as things begin to get interesting for them, Mrs. Smith-Porter is injured in an accident, and the Americans find themselves running the B&B and postponing their flights home. While the opening background chapters tend to lag a bit, Peck, well known for his Blossom Culp series for children, is at the top of his form once the travelers hit London. The epiphanies experienced by the three women pour over readers with the light, dry sparkle of good champagne. Among the highlights: Peck's glimpses of London (well-traveled, off-the-beaten-track and frequented by antique-collectors) and one of the funniest, most appealing love-at-first-sight stories to come along in some time. (June) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Kirkus Review

A slight story about three girlhood friends, now in midlife crisis, who take a London holiday that miraculously takes care of all their problems. Reunited just outside of St. Louis for a funeral, Julia, a hardened New York interior designer; Margo, a recently divorced schoolmarm; and society lady Les can see clearly through each othersŽ threadbare facades of happiness. Through flashback we learn of the three women's youth: how Les became pregnant to catch Harry, the richest college boy in town, how studious Margo entered into a self-sacrificing marriage to an academic, and how Julia's fierce determination to leave provincial life fueled her relentless drive for successŽand how, though all goals were achieved, the women are unfulfilled by their long-ago fantasies of perfection. When a random act of violence puts Margo out of commission and her arm in a sling, the three decide to visit London. They stay with a Mrs. Smith-Porter, a mysterious woman with an invented identity who serves as their fairy godmother. Mrs. Smith-Porter (whose oh-so-tasteful and elite bed and breakfast is furnished with exhaustively described antiques) introduces Julia to Hugh, a roguishly handsome antiques dealer, andŽsurprise!Ža landed lord, whom she falls quickly in love with. Margo also has an opportunity to fix her life when her surly teenage daughter runs away (the girl tagged along to rendezvous with her boyfriend, studying abroad) and her ex-husband and hisŽsurprise!Žmale lover come to sort things out, allowing Margo the closure she needed to get on with her life, which she promptly does by hooking up with a widowed London doctor. Which leaves Les, whose terminal ennui is erased when Mrs. Smith-Porter is accidentally killed by a speeding truck and Les decides to stay in London, too, taking over the B&B business and escorting socialites like herself around town. A thoroughly silly, predictable tale from a prolific YA author.

Booklist Review

Three women, three very different lives: Peck weaves an enthralling tale of old school chums, each one facing an unsatisfactory midlife but utterly primed for a sea change. A collective London holiday is Lesley's bright idea. As the group's chief organizer, she rounds up her friends for a much-needed respite from dreary husbands and ex-husbands, from charity work and disagreeable jobs. Add to the scenario a certain, rather mysterious Mrs. Smith-Porter, gracious hostess of a posh English bed and breakfast, and as major turnabouts and transitions begin to unfold, Peck's imaginative storytelling implicates his characters in the kind of delightful escapades that mere mortals can only dream about. Their blissful journeys of discovery provide readers with a most pleasurable diversion. --Alice Joyce

Library Journal Review

Three fortysomething women, friends since childhood, travel to London for a much-needed vacation. Lesley, the organizer, is a wealthy married woman whose days are filled with volunteer projects. Julia is a single Manhattan interior designer still mourning the AIDS-related death of her business partner, and Margo, a teacher and newly divorced mother of a teenage girl, is recovering from being shot in her classroom. What begins as a meticulously planned holiday quickly turns into something magical, as the three women rediscover one another and the joy that has been missing from their lives. Written by the award-winning author of a number of books for young adults, this is a wonderful novel‘cozy, charming, and marvelously entertaining. Anglophiles will love it, and it is just the thing for Rosamunde Pilcher and Mary Wesley fans. A real treat; highly recommended.‘Elizabeth Mellett, Brookline P.L., MA (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.