‘The Mermaid and Mrs Hancock’ plot: We are in London. It is 1785. Jonah Hancock has just had his ship sold… for a mermaid. Suddenly, his life changes. He moves in different circles and meets courtesan Angelica Neal. They get married and things become complicated.
It is a good story, an interesting concept. I like the fact that it’s based on a real mermaid sculpture in the British Museum.
But I thought it was a strangely paced novel. Part of me feels as though you could read the first 20 pages or so and then skip to Volume 3 (the book’s strongest section) at about page 350 and you’ll pick up the story easily. So that’s slightly frustrating. Sometimes I like to think about reading as though I’m going on a walk with / in the story, but with this book I was kept at arm’s length, like I was looking at a picture of a nice walk rather than experiencing it myself. It has had great reviews everywhere which recount the basic plot… but I felt that a lot of the book doesn’t really bear much resemblance to what is written in the synopsis just inside the jacket cover (as I said, I thought a sizeable chunk doesn’t contribute much to the overall story). Also I didn’t really feel any better informed about life in 18th century London beyond my own imagination… Hmm.
The Mermaid and Mrs Hancock by Imogen Hermes Gowar was published by Harvill Secker on 25th January 2018, £12.99 hardback.
In celebration of National Storytelling Week I knew I had to feature these amazing anthologies of short stories.
‘That Glimpse of Truth: 100 of the Finest Short Stories Ever Written’ is a wonderful (and beautiful – perfect for a present!) collection of the best short stories. And look at the contents:
The greats are all here: Virginia Woolf, Guy Maupassant, Shirley Jackson, Frankz Kafka, F. Scott Fitzgerald, Charles Dickens, Katherine Mansfield, Flannery O’Connor, D. H. Lawrence, Rudyard Kipling… the list goes on. With thoughtful and informative introductions to each story, this collection is something to treasure.
From the same ‘family’ of anthologies is this fantastic collection of short stories: ‘The Story: Love, Loss and The Lives of Women’.
Again, an absolutely superb gathering of stories is here. Just look at the list of authors:
Short stories are the best. But you knew that already.