The Peacock Room

Pub Date:   |   Archive Date: 11 Jun 2019

Member Reviews

Set against the stunning backdrop of Sammezzano Castle, past meets present in the glorious Tuscan sun. Allegra O’Brien has it all: a beautiful family, a loving husband and a stunning west London home. But when she discovers her husband’s infidelity, that world crashes down around her. With an ageing mother and two teenagers to support, Allegra seeks solace in the bosom of her Italian family. But it is the ramblings of her elderly grandpapa that awaken an interest in historic, interior architecture, and their legendary Mama Cosima. Inspired and invigorated, Allegra takes a trip to her grandpapa’s birth village in Tuscany to learn more about her heritage. Whilst there, a dangerous encounter with a handsome Italian man throws her off course, but in the wake of her grandpapa’s illness, Allegra makes an unexpected discovery and commits to the promise she made to solve a family mystery.
Having taken a train around Italy and unfortunately not getting to visit Tuscany, the idea of reading a book at a real location I missed drew me immediately. The setting in the book was well done. I can’t really say the same for the main character and her story throughout the book. There was a lot in Allegra’s tale that just didn’t work for me unfortunately.
**I voluntarily read and reviewed this book
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Mylan Kohler 
Mon, Jun 17, 8:25 AM
to Donna
You've been Volunteered by Laurie Gelman
Amazon link:
Publication date: July 23
A free copy was provided in exchange for an honest review.

Jen Dixon had previously been the class mom for her youngest child, who is now in third grade. There is a lot to juggle between those duties, her two older daughters' lives, her husband trying to curry favor with a potential business partner, and additional duties for the school. She remains irreverent and down to earth even as she tries to handle everything.

This is a sequel to Laurie Gelman's first novel "Class Mom," which I hadn't read. I don't feel as though I was missing anything by not reading that one, however. Jen dove right in, and there was enough background given into the people she talked to and about in the book. Her best friend and former PTA President had moved away, and the new one wants to be kept tighter in the loop. She also isn't as laid back, and ropes Jen to being in charge of the safety patrol as well. As the somewhat stereotypical middle class stay at home mom, Jen has exercise class, calls with her daughters, calls with her parents, and often is sent on errands everywhere. Given her own wilder past, she drinks a lot at those business dinners her husband arranges to try to get investment money. Her e-mails to the class intersperse the text and are really funny to read, especially the one she composed while on spring break with her family while intoxicated.

As a cheery novel, it's funny to read about Jen's antics as she tries to communicate daughters about their romantic lives, angsts over cutting coupons to save money, and decry the amount of drinks she has on these business dinners. She isn't so overly self conscious in her interactions, and she is able to handle criticism well. That saves her from appearing self centered, which is perfect for this kind of story. Any parent roped into class participation, PTA meetings, bake sales, or safety patrol duty will definitely commiserate with Jen!

The Peacock Room by Merryn Corcoran
Amazon link:
A free copy was provided in exchange for an honest review.

After Allegra O'Brien finds out about her husband's infidelity, she goes to Tuscany to look into her roots. A spur of the moment decision during the trip led to her meeting the handsome Massimo and seeing part of the castle that her Italian grandfather had always talked about. Now she's determined to learn more about the castle and the mystery surrounding her great-grandfather's disappearance, as well as reclaim her independence and sense of identity.

You definitely feel for Allegra, as her teenage children are dismissive and her husband treats her like a possession even after she discovers that he has been cheating for months during his "business trips." He seems to get even worse as time goes on, so that the upper middle class lifestyle that Allegra and her children are used to is being used as a bargaining chip. That's a common tactic in divorce proceedings, so those portions of the book feel very grounded in reality. I wanted to shake her teenage children to have them grow up and stop treating her so badly, especially her son, though teenagers are self centered and focused on material things as a natural state of their development.

There are lots of descriptions of Sammezzano Castle and the surrounding countryside. Allegra gets lecturing on them at times, so that it feels less like a natural conversation arc and more like the author's way to dump a lot of information on us. The descriptions are gorgeous, though it feels a little disconnected from the reader, with less sensory input. As in, food is mentioned but not described, and we don't get much of an explanation on how Allegra feels to be there. It's almost like the fade to black sex scenes with Massimo, who has some secrecy regarding his past as well. It's almost too much of a plot device that the police officer that saves Allegra is into her and conveniently single, and has all kinds of pull in exactly the places that Allegra needs. Still, he provides a great contrast to Hugo, as he has his macho pride but isn't controlling Allegra in a toxic or demeaning way.

The mystery surrounding Allegra's great-grandfather Allessandro disappearing was done very well, and revealed in stages. I really enjoyed that story thread, and its resolution at the end of novel is at once sad and satisfying. It makes sense why he had been missing for so long, but it's also sad that no one he had known would ever know what had happened to him. The epilogue also gives additional closure to the story, tying up all the loose threads that didn't fit in the overall story arc.
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I will definitely recommend this title. It is very well thought out and imaginative. I can't wait for more titles by this author.
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The Peacock Room is the first book I have read by Merryn Corcoran, but it won't be the last. This book covers all my favourite topics, art, architecture and beautiful Tuscany.  Allegra has been married for twenty years when her husband decides to leave her for a much younger woman. After originally being heartbroken, time passes and she realises how controlling her husband was and that now she can get back to her passion of art and architecture. After the death of her beloved grandpapa, she decides to look into a family mystery and find the Castello Sammezzano and the fabled Peacock Room her grandpapa told her about. Mystery, art, architecture, romance and the stunning landscape Tuscany come together to create a beautiful read.
What drew me to this book was the stunning cover that shows a woman in the most stunning room, an image of the Peacock Room with its different hues of blue that shimmer off the cover. What surprised me was finding out that the Castello Sammezzano is a real place, and the Peacock Room does exist, its just a shame it isn't open to the public. This is simply one of the gorgeous Italian setting in this book, all of which can't help but make me smile wistfully and dream of going back to Italy.  A family is mystery is always interesting in a book as I love to be a voyeur in other peoples lives. This mystery surrounds Allegra's grandpapa's father who went missing at the same time as some art work from the Castello. His mother never believed he would have left her with a young son, and through her diaries, left to Allegra, we learn more about this period of time. Merryn Corcoran's writing is colourful and descriptive, in setting and character, and brings the rooms of the Castello and the architecture vividly off the page and into the imagination.
Allegra was a character I really warmed to. She has never reached her potential as a person, being controlled by her husband who didn't want her to work, but all this changes after the separation.  There are many moments where a smile was on my face with Allegra's cutting comments towards her husband as her confidence grew, and she became more independent.  It's not very often I say I hate a character, but in the case of Hugo, the husband, this was true. He was chauvinistic, arrogant, egotistical, condescending and smarmy; he doesn't deserve someone as nice as Allegra. All the characters were well rounded, different and true to life, making them and their lives more believable; although Allegra's new romance is a bit too perfect, but that is part of the charm of the book.
The Peacock Room is a beautiful book, in setting, story and characters. The mystery, romance and Italian culture perfectly combine to make this such a pleasure to read, and offers pure escapism.  An uplifting, and easy read that will leave you with a smile on your face. Bellissima!!
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This was an intriguing title and I was completely caught up in watching the mystery of The Peacock Room unfold. Florence and it's surrounding countryside is such a beautiful setting and the rich detail of the interiors and mosaics are vivid and captivating. The romantic element was pure escapism and I thoroughly enjoyed being swept up in the it and the family's mysterious connection to the Peacock Room.
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I try not to give one-star reviews (and, in truth, this is probably more of a 1.5), but I was really disappointed with this book. 

The cover is beautiful and the description is compelling (a romance, a ghost, a mysterious Italian castle), which is why I requested it. Even the beginning was promising--Allegra finds out that her husband Hugo is having an affair with a much younger woman and decides to extract herself from her terrible marriage and improve her life, starting with a trip to Florence with her friend Julia. Unfortunately, the plot unfolded in a plodding, unsubtle way. 

I thought that, with Allegra investigating the mysterious disappearance of her great-grandfather (the "grandpapa" substitute for "nonno" drove me crazy, but I suppose every family has their own term of endearment for their grandparents), the story would lean more into the history of the area and the family, but instead Corcoran focuses on bringing together a series of superficially developed characters. Allegra was particularly frustrating--she tries magic mushrooms and has *no idea* that they're drugs, she insists that she hates guns and harps on this fact when she begins (abruptly) dating an Italian policeman who is required to carry a gun for her job (even her teenage son brings this up once or twice), and she hardly stands up for herself--especially at the beginning of the book. Massimo is also a caricature of the doting Italian lover, and aside from a brief revelation about his past, we barely learn anything about his life or his personality.

While the allure of the cover and the historical aspect was promising, the execution should have been better.
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Thank you netgalley for the arc of this book in exchange for an honest review.  I enjoyed how Allegra found herself in this book.  I don’t want to totally ruin it so I won’t.  I really enjoyed the descriptions of the castle in Italy and the peacock room.  You’ll enjoy this book if you like romance especially with and about older women! Thank you dear author!
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Thank you to Netgalley, the publisher and the author for the opportunity to rad an ARC copy of this book in return for a review based upon my honest opinion.

As I have booked a trip to Italy for this fall, I am obsessed with reading stories that take place in Italy and was so excited to see this book was centered around a very real and amazing estate.  I, of course, started googling and reading about Castello di Sammezzano; wow, amazing property, I could see how one visit created this story for this author, it is amazing.  I hope whoever has purchased it, restores it and opens it to the public for viewing; architectural artwork like that deserves to be seen.

As far as this book goes, while I loved the storyline, loved the characters overall, I found the author's writing to be lacking in maturity at times.  There were a few things about the book that bothered me a bit, such as terrible romantic scenes and I found the main character very juvenile at times, it was hard to believe she was to be in her late 40s, That being said; the lovely storyline was worth a few irritations and inconsistencies.  Allegra, finds out her husband is cheating on her, he then confesses when found out and moves out to start over with some young thing; this makes Allegra look at her life as a whole and she sees she was not very happy anyway. Then when Allegra's grandfather dies leaving her an inheritance and a mysterious box that contains, for one, the diary of her great-grandmother, so she then sets out like Columbo to solve the mystery of her great-grandfather's disappearance.  I really liked the old diary entries and the cast of characters who come to her aid in helping to solve this mystery and I was very satisfied with the ending.
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Having read some of the other reviews of this book, I set lower expectations than usual. I judged it unfairly based on the thoughts of others.

While yes, this is likely not a Pulitzer Prize winner, I ended up really enjoying it. One of my dislikes for the book was that it ended sort of abruptly, just giving a brief prologue- when I really would have loved to see how Allegra coped with everything. How did her mom handle cancer? Did karma really bite Hugo in the ass in the end?

My other problem with the book was that Massimo's random UK storyline was kind of unnecessary. It wasn't really useful for any character development. 

Overall I really enjoyed this book and would consider it a good beach or rainy weekend read.
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Excuse the slightly psychedelic banner, but I feel that this book deserved it. It is, after all, a book about peacocks. And castles, and a love story.

Encouraged by the beautiful cover, I picked up with book with some enthusiasm. What I ended up reading was somewhat of a mixed bag. Don’t get me wrong: I love a story set in Italy as much as the next person, and books that are all about family history are also great.

And it does start off promisingly. The story starts with Allegra, our heroine, finding out that her husband is having an affair. She promptly dumps him, has a makeover and travels off to Italy to unravel a family mystery: her great-grandfather went missing at the start of the 20th century and nobody knows why.

So far, so good, right? Ye-es. However, the characters made this book a three-star review (spoilers. Sorry!) for me. None of them felt particularly well-realised. Massimo, though lovely, is basically wish-fulfilment in literary form (complete with unnecessary secret-past plot twist), whilst Allegra’s ex-husband, Hugo, gradually becomes more and more of a cliched villain as the story goes on.

I wanted to give Allegra herself a bit of a shake. I’m all for female empowerment, and Allegra catering to her son’s every whim (seriously- his main line all through the book was ‘Mum, why haven’t you cooked dinner for me yet?’) made me grit my teeth. She stands up to him at the end, kind of, but seriously? Tell him to make his own damn dinner!

There were parts of the story I enjoyed. It was a nice change to read about a love story between older protagonists: both of them have baggage, and watching them work through it is refreshing and realistic. I had a chuckle at Allegra experimenting with freedom and trying both weed and magic mushrooms in quick succession- steady on!Allegra’s mother, though vain, was also a treat to read about, as was the dynamic between her, Allegra, and Allegra’s daughter, Kirsty. Yay for girl power! I would have liked to read more about Allegra’s great-grandmother, who pops up occasionally through diary entries. As it is, she works to further the plot, but we don’t really get a sense of her character.

If nothing else, this book has definitely instilled in me a healthy desire to go and visit Sammezzano Castle! Corcoran does a great job of describing the castle and the peacock room, and had me frantically googling to see what it really looked like. The concept is great, and I can’t help thinking that if it had been executed a bit better, the book would have been a winner.

Still. I’m inspired to go visit!
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I was drawn to this book by the Italian setting. I found it an earnestly written book with an interesting plot that couldn’t overcome the bland and one-dimensional characters, predictable touch of the fantastic, and unbelievable climax.

Kudos to whoever designed the cover.

I read an advance reader copy from Netgalley.
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I really enjoyed this novel. I loved the way places were described especially the rooms in Sammezzano Castle. I was inspired to find out more about the Castle. It was set in 2011 in Fulham and Italy. Allegra loves art and beautiful buildings, at University she studied European interior architecture.
When her children become too demanding Allegra escapes to her special place – a bathroom she designed using 14 Century Italian and Florentine mosaics. 
Allegra and her friend Julia go to Florence for a holiday. While she is in Italy, Allegra plans to find out more about her Italian family history and the reason her grandfather left Italy and something about the mysterious Peacock Room her grandfather is always talking about.
This was about families, relationships, friendships and secrets. I loved the descriptions about Italian architecture and design.
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I was attracted to this book because of the gorgeous cover and the reference to peacocks.  Peacocks symbolize many things to many cultures.  In the Bible, it  represents eternal life and the Resurrection because it sheds its old feathers each year and grows new ones. It is also used as a symbol of vanity because of its beauty and the way it displays his feathers.  In Greco-Roman mythology its tail has the "eyes" of the stars. In Hinduism, it represents patience, kindness and luck. In Persia, it is seen as a guardian to royalty.  They have always fascinated me, so from that standpoint The Peacock Room's story of said room in the Castle Sammezzano is interesting, and the story the author wove around its history is interesting.   The present day characters  are one-dimensional, so it is difficult to develop an interest in their story.  The interactions of the parents and children and Allegra's new relationship seemed rushed and superficial.  If you find yourself skimming through the present day parts of the story, don't let that stop you from slowing down on the story of The Peacock Room and the history of the people from that time period.  I had never heard of Castle Sammezzano and its Peacock Room, so I enjoyed reading its history mystery.

Thank you to NetGalley and RedDoor Publishing for an ARC of this book in exchange for my honest review.  Apologize for taking too long to complete this review.
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After being betrayed by her husband Allegro decides to get away and travels to Florence to visit the Castillo de Sommezzana to find out if The Peacock room her grandfather often spoke about is real .
She gets involved in a mystery which starts when she finds out her grandfather left Florence in disgrace. Allegra gets herself into scary situations which I did get a bit annoyed about that she could be so stupid.

I found out that the peacock room really exists and it is magnificent and just as the author describes in the book. Unfortunately the castle has been left to fall into ruin and no one is allowed it. Such a pity, what a great tourist attraction it could be.
Great story really enjoyed it.
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This was  an advanced copy from netgalley - thank you

Any book set in Italy gets my vote and this one is set in Tuscany which is my favourite place in the world.  

Lovely cover - beautiful and so is the book  -  hooked in from page 1 - couldn't put this down - such a wonderful read

I would highly recommend this as a holiday read but I wouldn't want to restrict its audience.  

I was so engrossed by this book and  will be recommending to all my friends to read too
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It was the cover that first drew me to this book. 
This story is a wonderful family mystery, enriched with wonderful history and rich with culture, art and architecture.
This book was a breath of fresh air for me, in some parts of the book I felt transported into beautiful Florence, surrounded with the aromas, romance and excitement. Other parts of the book I was dropped into London with an obnoxious ex and commitments piled high, his took its toll on my moods I must say !

The  images this conjured were magnificent , and the story line had me gripped, pulling me deeper and deeper , until the last few chapters completely consumed me. 

On finishing the book I learnt that Merryn Corcoran gained her inspiration for this book after seeing a picture of The peacock room at Sammezzano Castle in Italy. I instantly looked this up and was bombarded with magnificent images that only dreams are made of.
 For me it was a fantastic twist that the peacock room was a real place. Certainly another item will be added onto my bucket list now. 

I voluntarily read and reviewed this book, all thoughts and opinions are my own.
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The cover is gorgeous! Excellent story with interesting, well developed characters. Part romance/part thriller, the main character travels between England and Italy. The descriptions of Italy and the castle was beautifully described. I want to go!

I would like to thank the author/publisher/netgalley for the opportunity to read this book and exchange for a fair and honest review.
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I choose this book because of the beautiful cover. I enjoyed the story, but thought the dialogues and characters lacked  depth. The mystery didn't really catch my interest. I did enjoy the setting, especially the castle. It sounds beautiful.
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I was reading this for inclusion in our subscription box, but this book does not fit our needs. The writing felt a bit stilted and the dialogue was awkward. This book just didn't work for me.
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This is the first time I've ever read a book over the course of one day! Of course it helps when you're reading to a deadline and have run out of days, but I did find myself quite captivated by Allegra O'Brien's story.
When we meet 42 year old Allegra she is a happy housewife and mother of two teenage children, a girl and boy, so very relatable to me. I can only imagine her heart-break though, when she discovers her husband is being unfaithful to her. I would be absolutely devastated and her reaction to the situation is very believable. It seems to be somewhat of a blessing it disguise though as she eventually finds herself free to properly be herself again and explore the interests she had put to one side to be a wife and mother. Her husband isn't the most likeable of characters and he does do her a favour really by leaving her for his much younger girlfriend. 
As Allegra comes to terms with such a drastic change to her life, she does start re-visiting her interest in her family history, on her mother's Italian side and I found myself swept up in fascination by it all myself. Her visits to Tuscany sound idyllic, apart from one lapse of judgement during her first visit, and are made all the more charming when she meets police officer, Massimo.
This book was just a delight to read. Written with such beautifully descriptive language and with a genuine care for the characters and the stories they have to tell. All of whom add their own depth to the story, including the children. I don't know, but would hazard a guess that the writer might have teenage children herself as she writes them perfectly.
I was as keen as Allegra to find out the truth behind her family mystery and was hoping for a happy ending for her and Massimo the whole time. A lovely, inspiring story about following your dreams and not letting anyone hold you back.
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