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.

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