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February 1, 2020

The Peacock Room by Merryn Corcoran ~ a Review

by MK French

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.

Amazon affiliate links are used on this site. A free book was provided for an honest review.

Feb. 2020; RedDoor Publishing; 978-1910453810
audio, print (320 pages); women's fiction
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's disappearance was done very well and revealed in stages. I really enjoyed that story thread, and its resolution at the end of the 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.

Buy The Peacock Room at Amazon

Born and raised in New York City, M.K. French started writing stories when very young, dreaming of different worlds and places to visit. She always had an interest in folklore, fairy tales, and the macabre, which has definitely influenced her work. She currently lives in the Midwest with her husband and three young children.

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  1. I don't think I'd like the "lecture" parts but the rest of the book sounds good to me.