The Mermaid and Mrs. Hancock

The Mermaid and Mrs. Hancock

A History in Three Volumes

Large Print - 2018 | Large print edition
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"Imogen Hermes Gowar is a soon-to-be literary star."-- Sunday Times (UK)

"Historical fiction at its finest, combining myth and legend with the brutal realities of the past. . . . Comparisons will be drawn to the works of contemporary authors Sarah Waters and Michael Faber . . . but The Mermaid and Mrs Hancock has more in common with the novels of Dickens and Austen."-- Irish Times

In 1780s London, a prosperous merchant finds his quiet life upended when he unexpectedly receives a most unusual creature--and meets a most extraordinary woman--in this much-lauded, atmospheric debut that examines our capacity for wonder, obsession, and desire with all the magnetism, originality, and literary magic of The Essex Serpent.

One September evening in 1785, Jonah Hancock hears an urgent knocking on his front door near the docks of London. The captain of one of Jonah's trading vessels is waiting eagerly on the front step, bearing shocking news. On a voyage to the Far East, he sold the Jonah's ship for something rare and far more precious: a mermaid. Jonah is stunned--the object the captain presents him is brown and wizened, as small as an infant, with vicious teeth and claws, and a torso that ends in the tail of a fish. It is also dead.

As gossip spreads through the docks, coffee shops, parlors and brothels, all of London is curious to see this marvel in Jonah Hancock's possession. Thrust from his ordinary existence, somber Jonah finds himself moving from the city's seedy underbelly to the finest drawing rooms of high society. At an opulent party, he makes the acquaintance of the coquettish Angelica Neal, the most desirable woman he has ever laid eyes on--and a shrewd courtesan of great accomplishment. This meeting sparks a perilous liaison that steers both their lives onto a dangerous new course as they come to realize that priceless things often come at the greatest cost.

Imogen Hermes Gowar, Britain's most-heralded new literary talent, makes her debut with this spellbinding novel of a merchant, a mermaid, and a madam--an unforgettable confection that explores obsession, wonder, and the deepest desires of the heart with bawdy wit, intrigue, and a touch of magic.

Publisher: Farmington Hills, MI : , Thorndike Press,, 2018
Edition: Large print edition
ISBN: 9781432859541
Branch Call Number: LGP FIC Gowa
Characteristics: 679 pages
Alternative Title: Mermaid & Mrs. Hancock


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Nov 02, 2019

This story is really unusual. I found out about this book in London. The walls of the metro are covered in ads, including new movies and books ads, and the title caught my attention, so I borrowed it as soon as I could. In a sense, this is a story of redemption and second chances, but it's also full of sadness. The Mrs. Hancock of the title is a prostitute down on her luck, who manages to marry a kind, generous man and to get a kind of respectability. The mermaid, well, it is not clear what that is. Is it real? Is it a fake? Once thing is certain: it doesn't bring the good luck that people were hoping for. The book is also a very interesting depiction of life in 18th-century London, where fortunes were made and lost through ships and - sometimes - sheer good luck. The story is not particularly gripping, in my opinion, but the characters are all well developed, if not all endearing. And the emotions are ours: the desire for a better life and for love are things we can all relate to.

Aug 21, 2019

Not a bad read. It kept my attention throughout the entire book. I enjoyed the late 1700's British dialog and customs. Though I was underwhelmed with the mermaid concept, I could strongly relate to the main character Angelica's search for financial security and stability.

Mar 30, 2019

Well written, using language that not only creates a mental picture, but reproduces the smells and sounds of 18th century London. I was surprised at w well the mermaid fantasy melded with the hard reality for women in this century. It seemed that high class prostitutes had a better life than many females.

Jan 30, 2019

Writing is rich with day-to-day details. Powdered hair, pinned clothes, slippers, modes of travel, food smells, heat by coal, different speech dialects, nouns like bourdaloue, a porcelain piss-pot and details on its use. I enjoyed all that. The tone is sad, however, and that is what I remember the most about it.

ArapahoeKati Jan 04, 2019

A lush atmospheric debut. It’s long but beautifully rich and detailed. There's passion, humor and a real flair for the Georgian era.

Nov 29, 2018

Although I enjoy great literary work and classic works of literature, I still get disinterested in the Georgian era style of writing. This was a very very long read. If this gets adapted into a movie, they can easily cut half the book and it wouldn't be missed. If this style of writing is not your cup of tea, skip it. If it is go for it. If you're excited about Mermaid lore, it's not what you're expecting.

Nov 28, 2018

496 pgs

IndyPL_JessicaL Oct 23, 2018

Great historical fiction with a strong dash of magical realism. Not your typical mermaid story.

Oct 20, 2018

♥ ♥ Loved this book! ♥ ♥ My best read of 2018 so far.

ArapahoeJessica Sep 18, 2018

A courtesan and a captain are brought together by an unlikely curiosity (a mermaid's corpse) and find their lives forever changed. So atmospheric and absorbing! Felt like I fell right through the pages onto the streets of eighteenth century London. Sure to be a big book club hit!

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Jan 30, 2019

Angelica on p 265, "And when you are a poor woman, and unprotected, you are near as well a whore, even if you have not fallen yet. If one small thing goes awry, of course you must be tempted to it. Everybody knows that the moment will come some day; however honourable you are the taint of it is already on you. Eventually one fells one has no choice."

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