Vivid and intoxicating... review of NZ author Merryn Corcoran's 'The Peacock Room'   25 Oct 2019

Charlotte Everett

Merryn Corcoran’s third novel The Peacock Room is a colourful tapestry of love, loss, mystery and adventure.

Our protagonist, Allegra, is a London woman who finds her life turned upside down with the discovery of her husband’s infidelity. Distracting herself with her passion for historic interior architecture, as well as an interest in her Italian ancestry via her ailing grandpapa, it doesn’t take much for her best friend to convince her to join her on a three-day trip to Florence.

Set between London and Tuscany, we find ourselves utterly immersed in Allegra’s life as she pulls herself out of the devastation of her marriage ending, and blossoms into a strong, passionate, independent woman. Suffering a horrible incident at the hands of a dangerous man in Italy leads her to police officer Massimo, who reawakens Allegra’s sensuality, and teaches her what it is like to be truly treasured and loved. Along the way, a series of fortunate encounters or introductions pave the way for Allegra literally unearthing the secrets of her family history, and gaining a better sense of her own identity.

Although at times Allegra’s life seems more like fantasy than reality, she’s a character that any woman will be able to relate to – even if our lives are not as action-packed as Allegra’s! Anyone who has been through the heartache of divorce – whether as a divorcee, or as the child of one – will be able to sympathise with the turmoil both Allegra and her ex Hugo endure, and with the acting out of their children. The loss of a loved grandparent and the regret at not asking them more about the past, the illness of a parent, and the euphoria that comes with a new lover. For those who have never travelled, The Peacock Room transports Tuscany to wherever the reader resides. Corcoran’s ability to paint such strong imagery with her words enables you to feel as though you are right there with Allegra, experiencing each moment with her. It helps of course that both the Peacock Room and Sammezzano Castle really exist, and Corcoran has visited them.  I hope that one day I get to visit the Peacock Room myself (sadly it’s only open to visitors one day a year) – but if I don’t, I feel that I truly have a sense of it from Corcoran’s writing. The colours and detail leap out of the text.

Corcoran, a New Zealand writer who now calls Europe home, does not resist the temptation to weave Aotearoa into the story. It’s the acknowledgement of the Christchurch earthquake that gives Allegra a major breakthrough in her own story.

The Peacock Room is an immersive and truly sexy read – weaving together romance, travel, mystery, and crime. But ultimately it is the story of a woman finding her true self and celebrating her worth. A recommended read – and one you’ll find difficult to put down.


The Peacock Room is available on Amazon – Kindle, papaerback, or audio book. Also available at WH Smith.


About the reviewer:

Charlotte Everett has been contributing to NZNewsUK since 2011, and currently serves as London Editor – a post she has held since mid-2013. She has been based in London since mid-2007 and has a broad writing portfolio, including music/entertainment, theatre reviews, travel, rugby, Kiwi success, vegan food, and WW100/ANZAC. She is also an experienced freelance tour guide, and leads city walks across London and Oxford several times a week. You can follow her on Twitter or Facebook.

Add a comment

Bookmark and Share


Hilary Timmins' Award-Winning UK Documentary Series To Inspire NZ Students

29 Jun 2020 Education
Dream Catchers, produced and directed by Hilary Timmins, celebrates the success stories of more than thirty inspirational New... more

New Zealand reaffirms support for Flight MH17 judicial process

7 Mar 2020 News By Rt HON WINSTON PETERS
Ahead of the start of the criminal trial in the Netherlands on 9 March, Foreign Minister Winston Peters has reaffirmed the need to... more


NZ Government's Economic package to fight COVID-19

17 Mar 2020 Business News By RT HON JACINDA ARDERN
The Coalition Government has launched the most significant peace-time economic plan in modern New Zealand history to cushion the... more

NZ Government announces aviation relief package

19 Mar 2020 Business News By Hon Phil Twyford
Transport Minister Phil Twyford today outlined the first tranche of the $600 million aviation sector relief package announced earlier... more


Northbound and Down: the London-based NZer who journeyed from Alaska to Mexico by bicycle

18 Aug 2020 Lifestyle
An exiled Kiwi has been hailed as inspirational for completing a remarkable American cycling adventure.   Auckland-born Otto... more

The Serious Road Trip: how one Kiwi woman’s Big OE took her into a war zone

18 Jun 2020 Review By Charlotte Everett
I was delighted to receive in the post a new book to review. Simone van Kan’s The Serious Road Trip was a decent-sized... more


Fairer rules for tenants and landlords

17 Nov 2019 Property By Minister Kris Faafoi
17 NOVEMBER 2019 The Government has delivered on its promise to the over one million New Zealanders who now rent to make it fairer... more

New Zealand Government will not implement a Capital Gains Tax

17 Apr 2019 Property By RT HON JACINDA ARDERN
The Coalition Government will not proceed with the Tax Working Group’s recommendation for a capital gains tax, Jacinda Ardern... more


Boosting border security with electronic travel authority – now over 500,000 issued

19 Nov 2019 Migration By Hon Iain Lees-Galloway
19 NOVEMBER 2019 We’ve improved border security with the NZeTA, New Zealand Electronic Travel Authority, which helps us to... more

Christchurch reinstated as refugee settlement location

18 Aug 2018 Migration
18 AUGUST 2018 HON IAIN LEES-GALLOWAY The announcement that Christchurch can once again be a settlement location for refugees... more


Gallipoli Anzac Day services cancelled

19 Mar 2020 Travel & Tourism By RT HON JACINDA ARDERN
The New Zealand and Australian Governments have announced this year’s joint Anzac Day services at Gallipoli will be cancelled... more

New Zealanders advised not to travel overseas

19 Mar 2020 Travel & Tourism
New Zealanders advised not to travel overseas more


The Skipper's Diary: Sir Richard Hadlee honouring his father and NZ's Forty-Niners

27 Oct 2019 Cricket By Charlotte Everett
NZNewsUK London Editor Charlotte Everett spoke to Sir Richard Hadlee about why he’s chosen to publish his father’s... more

PREVIEW: All Blacks v England semi-final

26 Oct 2019 Rugby
The two most convincing quarterfinals winners are set to square off in a semifinal showdown for the ages when the All Blacks meet old... more


Gordon Campbell on the Gareth Morgan crusade

11 Nov 2016 Opinion
Gordon Campbell on the Gareth Morgan crusade First published on Werewolf The ghastly likes of Marine Le Pen in France and Geert ... more

Gordon Campbell on the US election outcome

10 Nov 2016 Opinion
Column - Gordon Campbell   Gordon Campbell on the US election outcome Well um.. on the bright side, there (probably)... more

Kiwi Success

Congratulations to Loder Cup winner

26 Sep 2018 People By Hon Eugenie Sage
25 SEPTEMBER 2018 The Loder Cup, one of New Zealand’s oldest conservation awards, has been awarded to Robert McGowan for 2018... more

Appointments to New Zealand National Commission for UNESCO

16 Aug 2018 Appointments
16 AUGUST 2018Appointments to New Zealand National Commission for UNESCO HON JENNY SALESA Associate Education Minister Jenny Salesa is... more


Historic pay equity settlement for education support workers

14 Aug 2018 Recruitment By RT HON JACINDA ARDERN
14 AUGUST 2018Historic pay equity settlement for education support workers RT HON JACINDA ARDERN HON CHRIS HIPKINS Prime Minister The... more

Historic pay equity settlement for education support workers

22 Aug 2018 Recruitment By RT HON JACINDA ARDERN
14 AUGUST 2018Historic pay equity settlement for education support workers RT HON JACINDA ARDERN HON CHRIS HIPKINS Prime Minister The... more