The mermaid and Mrs Hancock by Imogen Hermes Gowar.
After the disappointment of my last book I needed something to get me back onto the reading wagon… I’m really lagging behind and I’m not sure I’m going to make it to 48 at this snail pace. I’ve read 8 and there are 40 to go… I would have to average more than one book a week… oh dear. I’m in trouble.
My latest choice was a much better one, not perfect, not one of those books that leave you stare in the middle distance after you read the last page, lost in the story and the characters… not quite, but a very good nonetheless.
Plus it’s a very pretty book!
Where should I start… ok, it’s a gorgeous read because the language is absolutely wonderful: rich and sumptuous, never pedestrian but surprising and so delightfully accurate… The story takes place in 1785 and the London of the time is perfectly illustrated, as a matter of fact you can ‘see’ London, you can hear it, you can smell it too… the setting is beautifully vivid and real. There are merchants, and courtesans, brothels and docks, mermaids and servants and slaves… a huge variety of fascinating characters… Where it lacked slightly for me is in the story… it’s a bit jumpy from here to there… not sure Mrs Hancock is the main character and therefore deserves the title… and also I’m not sure I liked her at all for 3/4 of the book and then suddenly she ‘changes’… and she’s seems quite nice… but a different person. The mermaid too… is a bit ‘thin’… It almost needed to be thought through a little more in order to bring it all together better… there are lots of slightly disjointed parts which are wonderful but themselves but feel a little forced when put together. Having said all this I enjoyed it very much and it restored my faith in books so that’s good right?
Anyway, language 10/10, descriptions of the time/place 10/10, story and characters 7/10.
Worth reading? Absolutely.