A great break from reading crime books!
I am a member of Crediton Community Bookshops Bookgroup and at our April Meeting we decided to read books from the Woman’s Prize shortlist. The Mermaid and Mrs Hancock was the one that appealed to me most.
I downloaded a copy of the book via BorrowBox, one of our audiobook platforms available for free if you are a member of either Devon and Torbay libraries with your library card and PIN. It is a long book, 17 ½ hrs on audio book and over 500 pages in book form.
The story begins with an introduction to Mr Jonah Hancock who is a sad figure who is left widowed and childless, one day he receives a visit from the Captain of his ship which he uses for his business. The captain informs him that he has sold the ship and has purchased a mermaid.
Mr Hancock is horrified as he feels he will be ruined but decides that he use the mermaid as curio and show it to the public. These showings lead him to encounter Mrs Chappell, the owner of a brothel, and there he is introduced to Angelica Neal, an experienced courtesan. Mr Hancock has never met anyone like Angelica and from this meeting they start on a journey that takes them through 18th century London.
Their stories weave through, betrayal, sadness, grief and retribution. There were two reasons that for me it was not five stars for me was there was one part of the story I found personally difficult to listen to and overall it was very long and slow in places.
However, it is beautifully written; the characters are wonderfully detailed and developed and the setting was very visual which was why I found it difficult in places. I felt like I was there at times with the characters and I needed to find out what happened to Mr Hancock and Angelica.
I hope there will be more from Imogen Hermes Gower as it was a welcome rest from my crime overload!