The Mermaid and Mrs. Hancock by Imogen Hermes Gowar

The Mermaid and Mrs. Hancock

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.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 ...

Details The Mermaid and Mrs. Hancock

TitleThe Mermaid and Mrs. Hancock
Release DateSep 11th, 2018
GenreHistorical, Historical Fiction, Fiction, Fantasy, Magical Realism

Reviews The Mermaid and Mrs. Hancock

  • Hannah Greendale
    Click here to watch a video review of this book on my channel, From Beginning to Bookend. A coquettish gallivant through 1780’s London, where a man’s life is upended by the gift of an infant mermaid’s corpse, and a courtesan frets over her waning beauty. Magical realism is as glittering and elusive as a mercurial sea nymph. The pacing is a slow stream, but the prose is an aphrodisiac. A promising debut; Gowar is an author to watch.
  • Hannah
    In this historical novel, Jonah Hancock, a widowed merchant, comes into possession of a dead mermaid. While trying to find a way to make money of this, he crosses paths with Angelica Neal, a courtesan whose protector has unexpectedly died.My thoughts on this are very complicated. I don’t think I have been this unsure how to rate a book this year yet. Therefore, here are my thoughts, first in list form and then more elaborate:Pros:- mesmerizing ...
  • Beata
    What a surprise! What a discovery! The novel is truly amazing regarding the plot and the language. I felt like I was reading a book written in the 18th century. The period details, tea bowls and coffee shops among others, are marvellous, which does not surprise as the Author has worked for several museums. But what really swept me off my feet (sofa) was incorporating a shell-grotto which reminds me of famous Pope's grotto at Twickenham. This nove...
  • Paromjit
    This debut atmospheric historical fiction by Imogen Hermes Gowar is an enthralling tale set in 18th century London, where much is in flux with the world irrevocably changing culturally and so much that is new is being introduced to society such as the tantalising strange foods. It should be made clear the fantasy element suggested by the mermaid in the title stays in the background until the latter stages of the story. It is 1785, and John Hancoc...
  • Simon
    I insist you all read Imogen Hermes Gowar’s fabulous debut The Mermaid & Mrs Hancock; a historical romp with wonderful characters, saucy shenanigans, dark glimmering corners of 1700’s society and possibly a mermaid or two. An utter treat. I need say no more.
  • Helene Jeppesen
    What a wonderful, whimsical book! I admit I found this novel very daunting because of its size and because of its plot which has to do with mermaids and is in addition historical fiction. For that reason, I was hesitant to pick it up, and I let it stay put on my bookshelves for several weeks. One day, however, I decided it was time to read it, and from the very first chapters I knew that this was not at all the daunting story I was expecting. Ins...
  • Jennifer ~ TarHeelReader
    4 lyrical stars to The Mermaid and Mrs. Hancock! 🧜♀ 🧜♀ 🧜♀ 🧜♀ In 1780s London, Jonah Hancock is a merchant and owns a ship. A captain knocks on his door urgently with the news he’s sold Hancock’s ship in return for a mermaid. Word of the mermaid spreads quickly like sensational things do, and everyone wants to lay eyes on the sight. This mermaid is the key to Hancock climbing into high society, and that he does, with speed....
  • Evelina | AvalinahsBooks
    Keeping in mind the name of the book, this is the rough experience of me reading it: 10% --- hm, super curious. No mermaid, no Mrs Hancock. What is to come of this?20% --- yes. The mermaid. Still no Mrs Hancock though. But there are other interesting things going on, so no matter!50% --- o....kay. Back to square one. But I'm attached to the characters by now! There's still half the book... WHY is it called that though?? 75% --- it seems everyth...
  • Sara
    I received a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review,I think I was expecting more from this than delivered - and I don't think that's entirely the books fault. I was expecting magical realism, fantasy and mermaids based on the blurb. What I got was a well written historical romance novel, steeped in descriptive prose that felt a little flat to me.The Mermaid and Mrs Hancock follows a humble merchant and his love for a courtesan, whom h...
  • Ova - Excuse My Reading
    This is by far the best read of the year for me so far and will be an all-time favourite. Click here for the full reviewAstonishing storytelling and highly atmospheric, surprising to believe it's a debut novel. Has a few flaws here and there but I loved it so much wouldn't let anyone say anything nasty about this book!The story is set in late 1700's London. Mr Hancock, a wealthy merchant, acquires a mermaid unwillingly to compensate a loss in tra...
  • Emma
    Superlative immersive historical fiction! Loved it. The writing was evocative with details of sights, sounds, behaviours and vocabulary of the age. There was no way for me to predict how events would turn out, but it was a wonderful read. Heartily recommended to lovers of (Georgian) historical fiction.Many thanks to Netgalley for an arc of this book. All opinions are my own.
  • Peter Boyle
    Jonah Hancock, a widowed merchant, lives a lonely life in a dark Deptford house, with only his young niece Sukie for company. His world is flipped upside down when one of his ship's captains returns from a voyage with a "mermaid" in tow (really a monkey's torso with a fishtail attached, but nobody seems the wiser). Hancock puts this specimen on show and becomes the talk of London, making a tidy sum of money in the process. The exhibition also cau...
  • TL
    I recieved this via Goodreads Giveaways in exchange for an honest review. All my opinons are my own.----Writing: 4 starsCharacters: 4 starsPlot/Pacing: Strong first two acts, not so strong last act.For the most part I did enjoy this(life stuff kept me from reading it quick) but the last part had me bored at times and my eyes glazing over. I thought it a bit weaker than the first two parts and not as engaging... I found myself skimming some after ...
  • Emma
    First of all, I'd like to thank Netgalley and the publisher for providing me with an ARC of this book in exchange for an honest review.I don't think I've ever read a book that was so thoroughly not for me in my life. I really struggled to get through the pages - it took me well over a month to read, even though I've been known to read books of equal length in two days flat - and I just never warmed to it at all.I'll start with the good points, ju...
  • Roger Brunyate
     Three books, each different, but mostly quite goodApparently, this debut novel was the subject of a bidding war between British publishers and became the most eagerly awaited new fiction of the season. It deserves such interest. Imogen Hermes Gowar’s writing ranges from good to excellent, and her feeling for the late eighteenth century period is quite acute and often great fun. I shall quote one of the more ribald passages later (in a spoiler...
  • Gumble's Yard
    UPDATE: I said in my review that the book had a strong chance of success in the Women's Prize, it was subsequently longlisted and has now made the shortlistI spent much of the second half of 2017 and early 2018 reading experimental fiction: the Goldsmith shortlist; various books I had anticipated making that list; each of the Republic of Consciousness Prize longlist at least twice; a number of other books submitted for that prize; other books fro...
  • Rachel
    The Mermaid and Mrs. Hancock, a historical novel set in 1780s London, follows Jonah Hancock, a merchant who finds himself in possession of a mermaid, and Angelica Neal, a courtesan whose protector has recently died. Their narratives intersect rather early on, and the novel mostly follows their relationship over a rather meandering 500 pages.From the very first page, I wanted to love this book. I was struck instantly by Imogen Hermes Gowar's prose...
  • Lieblingsleseplatz
    Ein Buch, von dem ich GANZ ANDERES erwartet hatte…Aber erstmal eine Lobeshymne an die Gestaltung: Das Cover ist wunderwunderschön – das Gold glitzert und glänzt und das Muster zieht sich bis auf die Innenseiten fort. Ein wahres Schmuckstück. Wie die Meerjungfrau.Nicht.Die ist nämlich wahrlich keine Arielle, sondern hässlich wie die Nacht. Und Mausetot.Also wer, wie ich, eine verträumte Fantasy Geschichte über eine bezirzende Meer...
  • Olga Kowalska (WielkiBuk)
    Tętniący życiem XVIII-wieczny Londyn, legendarne stwory i bolesna rzeczywistość w porywającej powieści historycznej w iście dickensowskim stylu autorstwa Imogen Hermes Gowar „Syrena i Pani Hancock”.Imogen Hermes Gowar zabiera czytelnika w podróż po brukowanych uliczkach, kawiarniach o intensywnym zapachu kawy i wymyślnych słodkości, salonikach bardziej i mniej elitarnych, gdzie słowo kurtyzany, fikuśne halki i koronki mają wi...
  • Eric Anderson
    What a joy it was reading this novel! And I'm so glad I purposely saved it as the last book to read from The Women's Prize longlist. I had a hunch it'd be a pleasurable and immersive story and it was. It's the kind of book I was eager to get back to every time I had to put it down which is something I can't say about some other literary novels no matter how clever or interesting they are. Given how much I enjoyed reading both Imogen Hermes Gowar'...
  • Claire
    One of my favourite books of the year!
  • Dannii Elle
    Actual rating 4.5/5 stars. This is my ninth book read in the Women's Prize for Fiction longlist.A merchant comes into far more fortune than he could have ever perceived owning, but with it comes the realisation of the extent of his own happiness and just how much his new situation can alter it. A courtesan experiences a change in circumstance that sees her once again thrust upon society, but she then is faced with the dawning understanding of her...
  • Umut Reviews
    This post will be me raving about how good this book was! It’s the best book I’ve read this year so far, and probably one of my all time favourites. For full review, please visit my blog:, let me put a disclaimer. If you don’t enjoy slow moving books and character driven stories, maybe this is not for you. Mermaid and Mrs. Hancock is a historical fiction that has mesmerising language, amazing at...
  • Meike
    The German version of this book is published by Bastei in its division “Bastei Entertainment” – and the book is entertaining indeed! First-time novelist Imogen Hermes Gowar takes the reader to 18th century London with a tale about the ambivalent relation between ambition and happiness. When Jonah Hancock, a humble merchant, is presented with a dead mermaid by one of his captains, he decides to first put the corpse on display and later sell ...
  • Melanie (Mel's Bookland Adventures)
    This has been one of my most anticipated reads for 2018. As a fan of historical fiction, I was excited that Imogen Hermes Gowar has chosen to set her tale in the 18th century London and her description of the town and its people is colourful, atmospheric and drew me right in. The story is sold as a mix of historical fiction with magical realism and yes, there is some magical realism but that really only occurs at the end of the book (as in the la...
  • Janet
    Absolutely a delight! Narrated by Juliet Stevenson, I cannot recommend the audiobook highly enough. It's engaging throughout with deft and memorable characterizations. The elements of magical realism bring a fairy tale like quality. This is Gowar's first novel and I read that this came out of her master's has sure changed a lot. I doubt a thesis based on 18th century prostitution replete with curiosities (mermaids) would have b...