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The Mermaid and Mrs Hancock [9781911215721]

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This voyage is special. It will change everything...

One September evening in 1785, the merchant Jonah Hancock hears urgent knocking on his front door. One of his captains is waiting eagerly on the step. He has sold Jonah's ship for what appears to be a mermaid. As gossip spreads through the docks, coffee shops, parlours and brothels, everyone wants to see Mr Hancock's marvel. Its arrival spins him out of his ordinary existence and through the doors of high society.

At an opulent party, he makes the acquaintance of Angelica Neal, the most desirable woman he has ever laid eyes on... and a courtesan of great accomplishment. This meeting will steer both their lives onto a dangerous new course, on which they will learn that priceless things come at the greatest cost.

Where will their ambitions lead? And will they be able to escape the destructive power mermaids are said to possess? In this spell-binding story of curiosity and obsession, Imogen Hermes Gowar has created an unforgettable jewel of a novel, filled to the brim with intelligence, heart and wit.

AUTHOR: Imogen Hermes Gowar studied Archaeology, Anthropology and Art History before going on to work in museums. She began to write fiction inspired by the artefacts she worked with, and in 2013 won the Malcolm Bradbury Memorial Scholarship to study for an MA in Creative Writing at UEA. The Mermaid and Mrs Hancock was a finalist in the MsLexia First Novel Competition and shortlisted for the inaugural Deborah Rogers Foundation Writers' Award.

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Imogen Hermes Gowar
Harvill Secker
836 Grams
  • 4
    Amusing, interesting, vivid

    Posted by Lucy on 13th Apr 2018

    The existence of the mermaid of the title runs through the narrative from start to finish, and brings an unsettling sense of other-worldliness to the story. Magical realism is a genre I enjoy, so this was welcome.

    Georgian London assaults the senses in all possible ways, the lives and livelihoods of the women in the story are described in ways which do not always make for a comfortable reading experience. The historical detail is excellent, with well-researched vignettes adding charm, excitement and sometimes revulsion.

    I enjoyed the sense of London as a living thing, growing and expanding in synch with the prosperity of the populace, and swallowing up anyone who was unable to keep afloat in the murky waters of Georgian society.

    There is genuine pathos in the characters, they live lives full of regret and loss, but at the same time actively try to change their worlds for the better.

    Plus, mermaids.

  • 5
    Interesting and amusing story

    Posted by Julia on 14th Feb 2018

    Almost couldn’t put it down, a hugely entertaining read. Brilliant descriptive narrative makes you feel you are ‘there’ watching it all from the sidelines.

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