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The Mermaid and Mrs Hancock
Imogen Hermes Gowar
In Georgian London rich and fashionable society gentlemen queue to catch a glimpse of a mermaid. But it is not the beautiful and graceful creature of dreams and fairy tales, but dark, dead cold and wizened. Despite its ugliness, though, it does appear to be the genuine remains of a mermaid and thus a marvel that becomes the talk of London.
The oddity was discovered in the far east by the captain of a boat owned by widowed merchant, Jonah Hancock. It quickly makes Hancock a very rich man – but wealth cannot fill he loneliness in his soul. The mermaid is a ticket into high society where he meets the famous courtesan, Angelica Neal. Beguiled and besotted, he seeks her attention whilst investing his new-found fortune in a massive building project.
The dirt and destitution, the pomp and pretensions of eighteenth century London are a brilliantly realised background for a moving tale of pride, passion and ambition.
This is the sparkling debut novel from an enormously talented new writer.
Vintage paperback £8.99