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The Mermaid and Mrs. Hancock by Imogen…
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The Mermaid and Mrs. Hancock (2018)

by Imogen Hermes Gowar

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4172038,074 (3.66)53
Member:LeighV
Title:The Mermaid and Mrs. Hancock
Authors:Imogen Hermes Gowar
Info:Harper
Collections:Blog
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Tags:Historical Fiction

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The Mermaid and Mrs. Hancock: A Novel by Imogen Hermes Gowar (2018)

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» See also 53 mentions

English (19)  Dutch (1)  All languages (20)
Showing 1-5 of 19 (next | show all)
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. ( )
  brangwinn | Mar 30, 2019 |
A perfectly executed book that does everything I want in my historical fiction - characters with Dickensian variety (minus the Dickensian shmaltz), touches all classes high and low, and brings the late 18th century to life without the fussy diction of the era or, conversely, seeming anachronistically modern. I've seen other reviews comparing it to Dickens, but if I had to set it alongside a classic, I'd pick Vanity Fair. Although this is a relatively long book, it didn't drag at all for me. Even the fantasy/speculative element was of the period, rather than what a modern reader would expect. I look forward to the author's next book - while I wouldn't want to restrict her creativity, I do hope she has another historial novel up her sleeve. ( )
  badube | Mar 6, 2019 |
Totally loved the story line of this book and the characters felt very true to life. I read the first part in almost one setting; got distracted and had to come back which probably made it lose some of its momentum. Two story lines are told at first: Mr. Hancock, a fuddled but kind widower who has an overbearing sister but spunky and loving niece. His wife died in childbirth and he misses her immensely and his son who never lived. His life is sad but he seems to try to make the best of it. He is a ship owner and when his ship is shipwrecked, he feels totally lost. The ship's captain, however, seems to have found a mermaid who eventually Mr. Hancock puts on display and earns quite a fortune from the effort.

The second story is of the "couresan" Angelica Neal who has been in the "nunnery" of Mrs. Chappell who apparently takes girls from no where and teaches them all the finer aspects of entertaining men. Angelica has now set out on her own with her dresser and friend, Mrs. Frost. Angelica is ambitious, spoiled, and conniving.

Eventually these two characters meet and their lives become intertwined. This is filled with 18th century manners and culture. There is humor sprinkled in between some grim elements of 18th century life.

A long book which might have been pared down just a bit, it is still very entertaining. I did feel the ending was just a bit weak, but still very enjoyable. ( )
  maryreinert | Jan 22, 2019 |
I really wanted to like this book more than I did. While it had elements of magical realism and I enjoyed the first quarter of the book, by the time I reached the last quarter of the book, I find myself not caring about the characters at all. There were some loose ends that I didn't feel got addressed properly (Polly's story). I would have liked for the author to address that storyline as well. ( )
  leperdbunny | Jan 18, 2019 |
I enjoyed this book. I love the time period and the characters, but this before book did leave me baffled. There was so much going on and at times I couldn’t wait to get to the next page. Other times, I was lost and wondering, do I want to keep reading. At the end I don’t think there was enough closure, just left several of the stories too open. ( )
  Bethgarvinloflin1 | Dec 18, 2018 |
Showing 1-5 of 19 (next | show all)
Roll up, roll up, a true wonder is on display: a mermaid magicked out of words. The author of this debut set in Georgian London gulled me, by the zest of her writing and sustained authorial sleight of hand, into forgetting for a second that they do not exist..There are deep currents roiling here, but the book takes its time setting them in motion. On the whole, investment by the reader is amply repaid....There is much to chew on here, and much to savour, presented with wit and showmanship. Would that showmanship were a gender-neutral word, though, because all the elan of this book is female, from the madams running their girls, to the book’s most obvious literary forebear, Angela Carter’s Nights at the Circus. Imogen Hermes Gowar delights in the feminine fakery of mermaids, but as a writer she is the real deal.
 
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Jonah Hancock's counting-house is built wedge-shaped and coffered like a ship's cabin, whitewashed walls and black skirting, beam pegged snugly to beam.
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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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. What will be the cost of their ambitions? And will they be able to escape the destructive power mermaids are said to possess? In this spellbinding story of curiosity and obsession, I H Gowar has created an unforgettable jewel of a novel, filled to the brim with intelligence, heart and wit.
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