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The Mermaid and Mrs Hancock av Imogen Hermes…
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The Mermaid and Mrs Hancock (urspr publ 2018; utgåvan 2018)

av Imogen Hermes Gowar (Författare)

MedlemmarRecensionerPopularitetGenomsnittligt betygOmnämnanden
7343222,568 (3.58)65
Shortlisted for the Baileys Women's Prize for Fiction * A Refinery 29 Favorite Book of the Year * A Booklist Top 10 First Novels of the Year * A People Best Book of the Fall "Wonderful... completely transporting."  --Madeline Miller, New York Times bestselling author of Circe and The Song of Achilles 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.… (mer)
Medlem:booksand._.lastlines
Titel:The Mermaid and Mrs Hancock
Författare:Imogen Hermes Gowar (Författare)
Info:Harvill Secker (2018), Edition: 01, 496 pages
Samlingar:Ditt bibliotek
Betyg:
Taggar:Ingen/inga

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The Mermaid and Mrs Hancock av Imogen Hermes Gowar (2018)

Senast inlagd avArina42, BurlingtonComLibrary, privat bibliotek
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» Se även 65 omnämnanden

Visa 1-5 av 32 (nästa | visa alla)

3.5*

The Mermaid and Mrs Hancock, Imogen Hermes Gowar’s assured debut novel, is set in Georgian London and its environs. Its plot centres around two protagonists and the worlds they inhabit –so distant despite being geographically close. On the one hand there is merchant and businessman Joshua Hancock, a rather dull widower who rarely strays away from his home and his office, despite the fact that his ships sail the seven seas. On the other hand there is young courtesan Angelica Neal, one of the finest ‘graduands’ of Mrs Chappell’s famous ‘nunnery’ and a favourite amongst high-class clients. The novel tells their story and how a mermaid will join their destinies. As the book progresses, we also realise that the worlds of merchant and courtesan might not be as different as may appear and unlikely parallels start to surface.

Let’s get some clarifications out of the way. This book is not primarily about mermaids, although it deals with more than one of them (both literally and figuratively). Moreover, although it does have a fantastical element to it, it is a “supernatural novel” only in a half-hearted way. In this regard, it reminded me somewhat of Eleanor Catton’s Booker-Prize-winning [b:The Luminaries|17333230|The Luminaries|Eleanor Catton|https://images.gr-assets.com/books/1410524246s/17333230.jpg|24064531], which also relied on otherwordly elements in the plot without actually feeling like a work of “supernatural fiction”. To be fair, this is not the only quality which put me in mind of “The Luminaries” and there are a number of positive elements which “The Mermaid and Mrs Hancock” shares not just with that book, but also with other great works of historical fiction. In particular, I was struck by the effect of “total immersion” which the book gives the reader. The historical context is evidently well researched and conveyed in the greatest of detail. There are lengthy descriptions which brilliantly evoke the atmosphere of 18th Century London, with its sights, sounds and smells. The author also gets the hang of the style of novels of the epoch, such that both the narration and the dialogue feel convincing and authentic. The various secondary characters are also drawn in significant detail with their backstories deftly dovetailed into the main storyline.

Whilst appreciating the evident quality of the book I found it rather difficult to actually love the novel. At times I felt as if the main elements of the plot were not remarkable enough to justify the length of the book and some of the scenes (I’m thinking for instance of several paragraphs describing Mrs Chappell clumsy attempts at using a chamber-pot in a carriage) could have been excised without losing the thrust of the novel. Another issue I had was with some of the characters (including the protagonists) who seem to make decisions decidedly at odds with what the reader is led to expect from them.

That said, this looks set to be one of the remarkable debuts of the coming months, and deservedly so. I certainly look forward to more from this author.
( )
  JosephCamilleri | Mar 5, 2021 |
‘’Somewhere a tide is turning. In that place where no land can be seen, where horizon to horizon is spanned by shifting twinkling faithless water, a wave humps it back and turns over with a sigh, and sends its salted whispering to Mr Hancock’s ear.’’

London, 1785. Swiftly, we are let in two very different worlds that are about to be united under extraordinary circumstances. Mr Hancock, a moderately wealthy merchant, has acquired a marvellous creature. Angelica Neal is an accomplished courtesan that has come to admire his new possession. And what may that be? Well, a mermaid! And now, they are thrown into a series of dubious choices, chances and hopes in the opulent city and the peaceful countryside.

‘’We fill their minds even when we are far away. They fancy they see us even when they do not. They tell one another stories about us.’’

Imogen Hermes Gowar creates a very special example of Historical Fiction. Beyond the magnificent depiction of 18th century London, beyond our vivid transportation to the world of the courtesans and the merchants, two professions that seem to look for wonders, taking every chance that comes their way, beyond the need for love, she connects the elusive legendary figure of the Mermaid to the ‘’icon’’ of the beautiful, desired women. Both are sought after, tirelessly wanted. Once someone is fortunate enough to ‘’possess’’ them - literally, mind you - they become creatures to be put in a cage for profit. The Mermaid brings money. The Woman brings earthly pleasure but must ‘’belong’’ to one man only. Even if he is a scoundrel and a liar.

‘’A loss is not a void.’’

Imogen Hermes Gowar populates her beautiful story with fascinating characters. Good and bad, most of them grey. Real, tangible, easy to identify in all societies. But the main duo is a true force. Angelica’s spirit seems to mirror Hancock’s calm and need for a life with meaning. Her unafraid attitude to stand for herself against men and women who want to exploit and diminish her reflects his decision to abandon his microcosm and see all anew. They both make mistakes - who doesn’t? - and learn from them under the ever-watchful eye of the Mermaid.

The element of Magical Realism is cleverly and uniquely used to advance the story, walking side-by-side with very human, very familiar emotions and obstacles. And this is how an extraordinary novel is born.

‘’I am here; I am here; you are not alone. Here I am; I am grief, the living child of your suffering. I am the grief that sits within you; I am the grief that sits between you.
You will bury me but I shall rise up.
You will not know me, but I shall make myself known to you.’’

My reviews can also be found on https://theopinionatedreaderblog.wordpress.com/ ( )
  AmaliaGavea | Oct 15, 2020 |

3.5*

The Mermaid and Mrs Hancock, Imogen Hermes Gowar’s assured debut novel, is set in Georgian London and its environs. Its plot centres around two protagonists and the worlds they inhabit –so distant despite being geographically close. On the one hand there is merchant and businessman Joshua Hancock, a rather dull widower who rarely strays away from his home and his office, despite the fact that his ships sail the seven seas. On the other hand there is young courtesan Angelica Neal, one of the finest ‘graduands’ of Mrs Chappell’s famous ‘nunnery’ and a favourite amongst high-class clients. The novel tells their story and how a mermaid will join their destinies. As the book progresses, we also realise that the worlds of merchant and courtesan might not be as different as may appear and unlikely parallels start to surface.

Let’s get some clarifications out of the way. This book is not primarily about mermaids, although it deals with more than one of them (both literally and figuratively). Moreover, although it does have a fantastical element to it, it is a “supernatural novel” only in a half-hearted way. In this regard, it reminded me somewhat of Eleanor Catton’s Booker-Prize-winning [b:The Luminaries|17333230|The Luminaries|Eleanor Catton|https://images.gr-assets.com/books/1410524246s/17333230.jpg|24064531], which also relied on otherwordly elements in the plot without actually feeling like a work of “supernatural fiction”. To be fair, this is not the only quality which put me in mind of “The Luminaries” and there are a number of positive elements which “The Mermaid and Mrs Hancock” shares not just with that book, but also with other great works of historical fiction. In particular, I was struck by the effect of “total immersion” which the book gives the reader. The historical context is evidently well researched and conveyed in the greatest of detail. There are lengthy descriptions which brilliantly evoke the atmosphere of 18th Century London, with its sights, sounds and smells. The author also gets the hang of the style of novels of the epoch, such that both the narration and the dialogue feel convincing and authentic. The various secondary characters are also drawn in significant detail with their backstories deftly dovetailed into the main storyline.

Whilst appreciating the evident quality of the book I found it rather difficult to actually love the novel. At times I felt as if the main elements of the plot were not remarkable enough to justify the length of the book and some of the scenes (I’m thinking for instance of several paragraphs describing Mrs Chappell clumsy attempts at using a chamber-pot in a carriage) could have been excised without losing the thrust of the novel. Another issue I had was with some of the characters (including the protagonists) who seem to make decisions decidedly at odds with what the reader is led to expect from them.

That said, this looks set to be one of the remarkable debuts of the coming months, and deservedly so. I certainly look forward to more from this author.
( )
  JosephCamilleri | Sep 12, 2020 |
As many here have already said it's a bit overwritten. I ended up dreaming in Victorian English. I would give it 3.5 stars if I could, I enjoyed the read. ( )
  Cliff_F | Sep 11, 2020 |
Reading other people's reviews I am not alone in struggling through this novel for the first and second part and then getting into the swing of it in the third part. That said, the story hangs together well through the whole book and it never felt a chore so much as an uncertainty on where Imogen Hermes Gowar was taking me. By the end I felt I must have missed something that explained what the mermaid was a metaphor for, the depression that descended with the mermaid felt unexplained and I became concerned that the ending was going to be tragic. A well-researched novel that had plenty of interesting detail about high-class brothels in London in the 18th century and vivid descriptions of some scenes. Angelica is an interesting character that gives the novel plenty of colour. ( )
  CarolKub | May 13, 2020 |
Visa 1-5 av 32 (nästa | visa alla)
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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Shortlisted for the Baileys Women's Prize for Fiction * A Refinery 29 Favorite Book of the Year * A Booklist Top 10 First Novels of the Year * A People Best Book of the Fall "Wonderful... completely transporting."  --Madeline Miller, New York Times bestselling author of Circe and The Song of Achilles 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.

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