The Mermaid and Mrs Hancock
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 ...more
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Giveaway dates: May 08 - Jun 08, 2018
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A coquettish gallivant through 1780’s London, where a man’s life is upended by the gift of an infant mermaid’s corpse, and a courtesan frets over her waning beauty. Magical realism is as glittering and elusive as a mercurial sea nymph. The pacing is a slow stream, but the prose is an aphrodisiac. A promising debut; Gowar is an author to watch.
My thoughts on this are very complicated. I don’t think I have been this unsure how to rate a book this year yet. Therefore, here are my thoughts, first in list form and then more elaborate:
- mesmerizing language
- wonderful description
- immersive setting
10% --- hm, super curious. No mermaid, no Mrs Hancock. What is to come of this?
20% --- yes. The mermaid. Still no Mrs Hancock though. But there are other interesting things going on, so no matter!
50% --- o....kay. Back to square one. But I'm attached to the characters by now! There's still half the book... WHY is it called that though??
75% --- it seems everything is settled! At least we've got Mrs Hancock no ...more
An impressive novel set in 1780s London that reflects on class, prostitution (in various forms), and desire. The best thing about it is the sentence-by-sentence writing, which is incredibly poised and nuanced (especially for a debut novelist). The settings are richly imagined and atmospheric, and the characters are wonderful (especially Angelica Neal, a vivacious escort who finds her glory days coming to a close). But I can't help thinki ...more
I think I was expecting more from this than delivered - and I don't think that's entirely the books fault. I was expecting magical realism, fantasy and mermaids based on the blurb. What I got was a well written historical romance novel, steeped in descriptive prose that felt a little flat to me.
The Mermaid and Mrs Hancock follows a humble merchant and his love for a courtesan, whom he meets after a chance encounter with a mermaid.
Astonishing storytelling and highly atmospheric, surprising to believe it's a debut novel. Has a few flaws here and there but I loved it so much wouldn't let anyone say anything nasty about this book!
The story is set in late 1700's London. Mr Hancock, a wealthy merchant, acquires a mermaid unwillingly to compensate a loss in trade. Although he considers himself no showman, he i ...more
Many thanks to Netgalley for an arc of this book. All opinions are my own.
First, let me put a disclaimer. If you don’t enjoy slow moving books and character driven stories, maybe this is not for you. Mermaid and Mrs. Hancock is a historical fiction that has mesmerising language, amazing atmospheric setting, lots of metaphors and character build ...more
I spent much of the second half of 2017 and early 2018 reading experimental fiction: the Goldsmith shortlist; various books I had anticipated making that list; each of the Republic of Consciousness Prize longlist at least twice; a number of other books submitted for that prize; other books from the wonderful small presses that I discovered th ...more
The German version of this book is published by Bastei in its division “Bastei Entertainment” – and the book is entertaining indeed! First-time novelist Imogen Hermes Gowar takes the reader to 18th century London with a tale about the ambivalent relation between ambition and happiness. When Jonah Hancock, a humble merchant, is presented with a dead mermaid by one of his captains, he decides to first put the corpse on display and later sell it, thu ...more
The story is sold as a mix of historical fiction with magical realism and yes, there is some magical realism but that really only occurs at the end of the book (as in the last 15%) and is what ultimately brought this book d ...more
Apparently, this debut novel was the subject of a bidding war between British publishers and became the most eagerly awaited new fiction of the season. It deserves such interest. Imogen Hermes Gowar’s writing ranges from good to excellent, and her feeling for the late eighteenth century period is quite acute and often great fun. I shall quote one of the more ribald passages later (in a spoiler, in deference to sensitive eyes). Here, though, is a ...more
The Mermaid and Mrs. Hancock is notable for its cast of memorable female characters. There’s Angelica, the beautiful, capricious, independent-minded courtesan who’s unfortunately insufficiently financially independent not to be in need of a new protector. There’s the procuress to high society and Angelica’s erstwhile employer, Mrs Chappell, a ...more
I don't think I've ever read a book that was so thoroughly not for me in my life. I really struggled to get through the pages - it took me well over a month to read, even though I've been known to read books of equal length in two days flat - and I just never warmed to it at all.
I'll start with the good points, just to get them out of the way - firstly, the autho ...more
Visit the locations in the novel
Merchants, mystery and mermaids....what’s not to like!? Now, this book is not as focused on the mermaid as you might think from the blurb but take the mermaid as a mystery in the background which draws the world of traders and courtesans together then you have the full focus of a historically intriguing read.
The author has a knack for evoking London of the 1700s. The ships in the dock, the stench of the streets, the glamour of the courtesans, th ...more
La historia en general está entretenida y con cierto grado de curiosidad mantiene al lector más o menos expectante dependiendo del momento, eso sí en mi caso esperaba algo diferente y aunque lo he disfrutado no ha sido lo que i ...more
The Mermaid and Mrs. Hancock has been one of my most anticipated reads of 2018 for the longest time. I'm always eager to read historical fiction set in 18th century England, I kept seeing it everywhere and I'm not going to lie, the cover is absolutely stunning (and I'm not even going to talk about the naked hardback because I have no words * heart eyes *).
I adored Imogen Hermes Gowar's writing style, The Mermaid and Mrs. Hancock was one of the most beautifully written books I have read ...more
She won the Curtis Brown Prize for her dissertation, which grew ...more
"'Tis done," says Mrs Lippard. "Her school could do no more for her."
"I learned nothing," growls Sukie.
"You read every book they had."
"If I had known there were so few, I would have read slower.”