A book review in a quote:
The whore’s day ends
as the baker’s begins
and there is a time
for every purpose
Imogen Hermes Gowar
The Mermaid & 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. 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 chance meeting will steer both their lives onto a dangerous new course, a journey on which they will learn that priceless things come at the greatest cost…
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 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.
Should you read this book?
Pro: It’s beautifullly written. Concept is great. The twist is pretty brilliant. The insight into the lives sex workers of 18th century England… bold. And yes, there is a happy ending.
Con: The lead characters are … too flawed. Mr. Hancock, realistically so. Angelica Neal… she’s a peculiar character. Complex in some ways, simplistic in others, and in the end, unbelievable.
Still. I feel my life is richer for having read it, and so will yours be.