Tag Archives: The Mermaid and Mrs Hancock

Review of LIBRARY book The Mermaid and Mrs Hancock by Imogen Hermes Gowar

Standard

This book was highly recommended by a number of my book blogging friends, so I was delighted to discover a copy at the local library…

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.

And that is as much as the rather chatty blurb as I’m willing to share, given it goes on to happily give away plotpoints that occur more than a quarter of the way through this hefty read. But the other main protagonist is Angelica Neal, a courtesan trying to find another protector to maintain her lifestyle, now that the duke who looked after her has died.

First, the good news – the writing is absolutely beautiful and the historical period brilliantly realised in a series of lovely scenes that leap off the page. Gowar can certainly write. The plotting is interesting and I enjoyed the fact that just when I thought the story was going in one particular direction, it suddenly took an unexpected turn. This happened a couple of times, especially during the first two-thirds of the story. The theme of the mermaid works well as a device that both powers the plot forward and also as a symbol for the restless striving after novelty and learning that characterised those turbulent times. Though don’t pick up this one because you love the idea of a mermaid character, because that isn’t what this book is about. The first two acts in particular, were full of incident and interest.

However, I wanted to love this one more than I did. For while Gowar is clearly talented and her portrayal of the period is masterful, I didn’t ever bond with any of the characters. The rather fractious nature of the conversations between every single one of the characters left me feeling rather distanced – I found myself wanting to shake them all until their teeth rattled at one stage or another. Angelica’s flighty attitude was off-putting and just when I was beginning to care about her, the events in the third act shut her right down, putting her on the edge of the action and beyond the scope of the main story.

The pacing is also odd – instead of steadily gathering momentum, it takes a while to get going and then during that last act, which is the weakest, it suddenly drops right away again. Hm. That third act – it seems as though Gowar had several main themes that she’d wanted to weave through the story and so bundled them all into that third section, thus bringing the narrative to a juddering halt and entirely disempowering her main protagonists. We have a couple of ugly scenes, presumably to demonstrate just what a nasty time it was for women – particularly if they were black or elderly. The only reason this one didn’t go flying across the room, was the quality of the writing and the fact that I hoped the ending would rescue the story.

In the event, the ending was better than I’d begun to fear, but I just wish a large part of that final act was either cut or rewritten as I think this could have been a great book, rather than a very promising effort by a highly talented writer.
7/10

Advertisements

#Sunday Post – 5th August, 2018 #Brainfluffbookblog

Standard

This is part of the weekly meme over at the Caffeinated Reviewer, where book bloggers can share the books and blogs they have written.

Frances and I had a lovely weekend away with my parents last week – they were amazed at just how grown up she is. We returned home on Sunday and had the pleasure of Frances’ company until Wednesday, when she returned home. The house seems very quiet without her… Though it’s just as well, as I went down with a cold the following day, spending most of the day in bed and was still struggling when my lovely friend Mhairi spent the day with me on Friday. I’m on the mend, at least I’m now able to work.

I have been busy working through the edits on Netted and editing Mantivore Dreams. Other than that, not much else given my cold and the steaming temperatures.

This week I have read:

The Mermaid and Mrs Hancock by Imogen Hermes Gowar
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.
Beautifully written with a very well depicted historical setting. I’ll be reviewing this one in the coming week.

 

 

Like Never and Always by Anne Aguirre
On a hot summer night, a screech of brakes and shattering glass changes two lives forever.

Liv wakes in the hospital, confused when they call her Morgan. She assumes it’s a case of mistaken identity, yet when the bandages come off, it’s not her face in the mirror anymore. It’s her best friend Morgan’s. Morgan always seemed to have the perfect life, yet Liv must navigate endlessly disturbing secrets of the criminal and murderous variety—and a romance that feels like a betrayal. Torn between the boy she loved as Liv and the boy she’s grown to love as Morgan, Liv still has to survive Morgan’s last request.
Engrossing YA thriller with plenty of twists and turns featuring a likeable protagonist – review to follow in due course.

My posts last week:

Sunday Post – 29th July 2018

Review of The Great Alone by Kristen Hannah

Teaser Tuesday featuring The Mermaid and Mrs Hancock by Imogen Hermes Gowar

Can’t-Wait Wednesday featuring Hidden Sun – Book 1 of the Shadowlands series by Jaine Fenn

*NEW RELEASE SPECIAL* Review of Like Never and Always by Anne Aguirre

Friday Face-off – Had I the heaven’s embroidered cloths… featuring The Space Between the Stars by Anne Corlett

Review of Crossways – Book 2 of the Psi-Tech series by Jacey Bedford

Instafreebie Giveaway – LEGION – Women Authors of Sci-Fi

Interesting/outstanding blogs and articles that have caught my attention during the last week, in no particular order:

Best applications for writing https://earthianhivemind.net/2018/08/03/best-applications-writing/ A really helpful list of writing aids for those of us who do a fair amount of it…

Fun Fact Friday with Franky’s Fun Flamingo Facts https://wandaluthman.wordpress.com/2018/08/03/fun-fact-friday-with-frankys-fun-flamingo-facts-5/ I’ve grown really fond of this little nuggets of information about flamingos – and this week’s continues the alliterative theme!

Self Care Isn’t a Want https://girlof1000wonders.wordpress.com/2018/08/03/self-care-isnt-a-want/ This excellent article is dear to my own heart – note the ranting comment I leave…

Kanazawa’s Higashi Chaya District – Traveling in Japan 2018 series https://www.spajonas.com/2018/08/03/kanazawas-higashi-chaya-district-traveling-in-japan-2018-series/ Travelling via my computer is always a treat and this travelogue, including a delightful video, is a gem.

Everyone interested in time travel, meet here yesterday https://blogging807.wordpress.com/2018/08/03/everyone-interested-in-time-travel-meet-here-yesterday/ And this set of time travel jokes had me cackling with laughter…

Thank you very much for taking the time and trouble to visit, like and comment on my site and have a great week.

Teaser Tuesday – 31st July, 2018 #Brainfluffbookblog #TeaserTuesday

Standard

Teaser Tuesday is a weekly bookish meme, hosted by The Purple Booker.
Anyone can play along! Just do the following:
• Grab your current read
• Open to a random page
• Share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page
• BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (make sure that what you share doesn’t give too much away! You don’t want to ruin the book for others!)
• Share the title & author, too, so that other TT participants can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teasers!

This is my choice of the day:

The Mermaid and Mrs Hancock by Imogen Hermes Gowar

p. 103. ‘Do you think Mrs Neal is stooping?’ Polly Campbell muses.
‘Hmm?’ Elinor licks a fresh thread for her needle.
‘For she has not so much as seen the gentleman – if gentleman he may be called – and now she must escort him all evening? I had not expected her to capitulate so easy.’
Elinor shrugs. ‘She is not so different from us.’
‘Oh she is. Utterly so. She can disoblige any body she chooses.’
‘She’s not so well set in the world as you think. She still needs Mrs Chappell’s favour. And Mrs Chappell needs Mr Hancock’s favour, so you see Mrs Neal is quite trapped.’

BLURB: This voyage is special. It will change everything…

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.

And this is what I have against modern blurbs – I’m on page 103 and the next paragraph of the blurb then goes on to reveal the next plotpoint that I haven’t yet got around to reading! Clearly I’m not going to include it in this week’s teaser… So far, I’m enjoying this one but I don’t yet love it. There is no one I have yet really bonded with as the writing style, though very accomplished and fluent, is doing a lot of telling. However, there’s plenty of time as this is a fairly hefty read.