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The Mermaid and Mrs Hancock Relié – 25 janvier 2018

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A GUARDIAN, THE TIMES, DAILY TELEGRAPH AND EVENING STANDARD BOOK OF THE YEAR 2018.SHORTLISTED FOR THE WOMEN’S PRIZE FOR FICTION.‘A cracking historical novel’ The Times‘Pure storytelling pleasure’ MetroOne 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, on which they will learn that priceless things come at the greatest cost.Where will their ambitions lead? 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.

Imogen Hermes Gowar studied Archaeology, Anthropology and Art History before going on to work in museums. She began to write fiction inspired by the artefacts she worked with, and in 2013 won the Malcolm Bradbury Memorial Scholarship to study for an MA in Creative Writing at UEA. The Mermaid and Mrs Hancock was a finalist in the MsLexia First Novel Competition, shortlisted for the inaugural Deborah Rogers Foundation Writers’ Award and the Women’s Prize for Fiction 2018, and longlisted for the Desmond Elliott Prize 2018 and HWA Debut Crown 2018.

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Détails sur le produit

  • Éditeur ‏ : ‎ Harvill Secker; 1er édition (25 janvier 2018)
  • Langue ‏ : ‎ Anglais
  • Relié ‏ : ‎ 496 pages
  • ISBN-10 ‏ : ‎ 1911215728
  • ISBN-13 ‏ : ‎ 978-1911215721
  • Poids de l'article ‏ : ‎ 742 g
  • Dimensions ‏ : ‎ 16.2 x 4.3 x 24 cm
  • Classement des meilleures ventes d'Amazon : 9,606 en
    • 16,084 en
    • 131,367 en
  • Commentaires client :
    4,2 sur 5 étoiles 875 évaluations

5 review for The Mermaid and Mrs Hancock Relié – 25 janvier 2018

  1. 5 out of 5


    A well written and multi-layered novel, a quiet gem, a very special reading experience. The story is a bit meandering and some plot ends are not fully tied, but the exquisite language and enthralling atmosphere are worth the read. The real force of Gowar here is to craft a quite ordinary love story in a way that makes it unforgettable. By adding the mermaid to her universe, she reinforces the melancholy that inhabits it, and the feeling of eternal insatisfaction and confinement that plagues its inhabitants. The mermaid’s powerful appeal helps creating a mysterious, sometimes gloomy atmosphere, marked by loss, longing and desire. The mermaid is above all a catalyst. For the characters to meet, but also to open their eyes to what life can offers when freed from chintzy desires and devouring obsessions.My interpretation of it may be quite different from what other readers experienced. I think there is a very rich symbolic that can be extracted from it. En lire plus

  2. 5 out of 5

    Emma's Biblio Treasures

    I started this book full of excitement: I was reading this as my first buddy read with two friends on instagram, I love mermaids, and the description sounded like something I’d enjoy. The book itself is exquisite and opening it up to find it looked authentically like a very old book sealed the fact that I was judging this book by it’s cover. But would it live up to my expectations?Mercer Jonah Hancock’s life is changed forever the night he is disturbed by urgent knocking at the front door and finds one of his ships’ captains there informing him he sold his ship for a “mermaid”. Jonah is incensed at the money this impetuous frivolity has cost him. But word soon spreads, and with everyone now vying to see his marvel he decides to show the creature at a coffee house. A move that makes his fortunes turn. His life is changed again when high society bawd Mrs.Chappell offers a large sum of money to display the mermaid at her establishment. She throws a lavish party to celebrate and it is there that Jonah meets Angelica Neal, a beautiful courtesan and former protogée of Mrs. Chappell, with whom he is instantly smitten. When Anglica requests a mermaid of her own Jonah doesn’t hesitate to send out a crew to find and procure what she desires, neither of them knowing that this will have far reaching repercussions for them both and change their lives again in unimaginable ways.From the start I loved the way this book was written. It is enchanting, beautiful and lyrical, with such attention to detail it no surprise to learn the many years the author had studied the time period in which is was set, worked in a Museum, and that this book started off as her dissertation for her MA in Creative Writing. She brought Georgian London to life with a vivid realism thanks to attention to the most minute and unusual details. Being a story that featured brothels and courtesans there is also some sensuous and erotic storytelling that was at times a little shocking. Many social issues of the time period were highlighted in this book: the hypocrisy, abuses of power, the vulnerability and ownership of women, and how unsteady and unstable someone’s position in that society could be. It was interesting to learn what was viewed as acceptable or proper at the time and the very different expectations and ambitions that existed.The book was separated into three volumes and at the end of the first volume I was at a loss as to where the story was going and had found the story had got off to a slow start. At that point I thought the characters were interesting and well written, but I didn’t like either of the main characters and preferred a number of the secondary ones, although unusually this didn’t hinder my enjoyment of the book. Volume two was my favourite as the pace of the story picked up and captivated me. It was also where we got to know and understand Jonah and Angelica and began to feel an attachment to them, become invested in their fates and how their story was unfolding. The third volume did a good job of concluding their story but I did think some things were left unfinished and could have been explored further.One of the things I was most looking forward to about this novel was the mermaid, who was an enigmatic, elusive, haunting and mystifying creature. There were chapters dedicated to her and her magic and mystery was woven throughout them. I read this book with a belief that mermaids exist. The author writes it so that you don’t question that mermaids can be found amongst the seals in our seas and could be captured by a fisherman.I started read this book anticipating one of wonder, elegance and mystery. While there were all these things throughout the thoroughly researched and complex story, it’s slow start meant that it didn’t take my breath away and amaze me the way I was hoping. Nevertheless, this book was still a witty, detailed, beautifully written piece of historical fiction that I would recommend. En lire plus

  3. 5 out of 5

    Maggie F

    Wasn't sure whether I'd like this book but decided to give it a go and so glad I did. It's one of the best things I've read in a long time. Fresh and unusual with such good character development that I ended up hoping that the fate of those I originally disliked would work out well. Also a twist or two that I didn't see coming - always the sign of a good book for me. Well written in a 'different' style that lends itself well to the unfolding of the story. Quite explicit in parts which perfectly illustrates the bawdiness of the Georgian era (and the double standards) Left me wanting to know more about what happened to everyone after the book ended. Would love a sequel! En lire plus

  4. 5 out of 5

    P. G. Harris

    Jonah Hancock is a shipping merchant in late 18th century London. His is a world of solid middle class respectability. Widowed when both wife and baby died in childbirth, he lives in the house in which he was born, attended by his niece Sukie and maid Bridget. Forty five, portly, and shabbily dressed, his existence is stable and unremarkable.Across London is a contrasting world of colour, luxury and uncertainty. Angelica Neal is a high class courtesan who has been cut adrift by the death of the Duke who has supported her for the past three years. She is minded to sell her charms independently, seeking an advantageous marriage like her friend Bel, while her confidant and assistant, Eliza, wants her to return to her former madam, Mrs Chappell.Mr Hancock's stability is threatened when a captain in his employ returns having sold his ship for a mermaid. Seeking to recover his investment, Hancock puts the mermaid on show and is invited by Mrs Chappell to display it at her establishment as the centre piece of an erotic floor show. It is here that he comes into contact with Angelica, whose price for her favours is a second mermaid.The Mermaid and Mrs Hancock is probably best described as a bit of a mess. Viewed from one perspective it's primary theme is the disempowerment of women in Georgian society. They have no economic power other than that they can gain through the favours of rich men, and ultimately through marriage if they are lucky, or through the exploitation of other women through prostitution. From another angle it is seems to want at times to be a bawdy romp, with Angelica being a sort of Hanoverian happy hooker. There is a telling moment late in the story when she is genuinely torn between respectability and a return to the freedom and independence of her former life.Then there are the mermaids which bring an element of magical realism to the book. They are fantasy described in everyday terms. Their role seems to be metaphorical, but the metaphor is unclear, or at least undefined and constantly shifting. They seem to represent desire, ambition, material success, disillusion, despair. In this aspect the Mermaid and Mrs Hancock has close parallels with the Miniaturist – a historical novel told in tiny detail, with a central, unsatisfying fantasy element.That detail is another problem with the book. I found it extremely difficult to engage with, and I think a great deal of that comes down to the fact that is over written, or at least overwritten in the wrong places. A richly described environment can be a wonderful thing but there are times when plot needs to be able to gain momentum. Here the author doesn’t seem to appreciate that and the consequence is that things seem to get bogged down in a morass of unnecessary detail.The plot itself lacks momentum, and its also fractured, with odd little subplots which seem to come to nothing. There is, for example a side story about escaped American slaves and an afro-Caribbean support network which could be entirely dropped from the book without greatly affecting anything.My penultimate difficulty is a lack of character development, characters change from one moment to the next, but they don’t develop. They seem to switch in an instant simply to suit the needs of the next vignette.So to the end, and my final objection that everything finishes with a homily so trite that Paulo Coelho would reject it as valuelessly simplistic.Overall it’s not bad, but it is not a book I could recommend with any great enthusiasm. Two and a half stars. En lire plus

  5. 4 out of 5


    This is a fascinating, original and well written novel set in 18th century London. Mr Hancock, a respectable merchant, unexpectedly becomes the owner of a mermaid. Displaying his strange curiosity for money catapults him into a new world of wealth, courtesans and high society. Already occupying that world - or at least clinging to the edges of it - is Angelica Neal, a courtesan fallen on hard times. The following story of these two mismatched people is entertaining, unexpected and a compelling read.The world of London in the 1780s is very powerful evoked. I could mentally walk the streets, visualise every character, and see every scene play out like a film. Both Mr Hancock and Angelica Neal are interesting, believable and ultimately likeable characters. There are a host of intriguing supporting characters too - Mrs Chappell the madam, Sukie the teenaged housekeeper, and Angelica's friend Mrs Frost. The story tells a great deal about life in those times, in particular the lot of women and their limited options.The fantastical element - the bit about the mermaid - is very downplayed. I'd expected more of a fantasy story, but this is largely a historical/literary novel with a great story about real world happenings. The little dark touch of magic that accompanies the later part of the book is not significant. So if you are not keen on fantasy, don't let that put you off reading this.Overall it is a really enjoyable read with characters I liked, a plot I couldn't second-guess, and written in a style I admired. Hermes Gower has a great turn of phrase and has a way of putting things that both makes me smile and makes me wish I had the skill to write things that well. It's a long book, but every page is worth it. Highly recommended, and I'll certainly try her next one. En lire plus

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