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Imogen Hermes Gowar studied Archaeology, Anthropology and Art History before going on to work in museums. She began to write fiction inspired by the artefacts she worked with, and in 2013 won the Malcolm Bradbury Memorial Scholarship to study for an MA in Creative Writing at UEA. The Mermaid and Mrs Hancock was a finalist in the MsLexia First Novel Competition and shortlisted for the inaugural Deborah Rogers Foundation Writers' Award.
Longlisted for the Desmond Elliott Prize 2018 'A brilliantly plotted story of mermaids, madams and intrigue in 1780s London and I wouldn't be surprised to see it become the Essex Serpent of 2018' - The Pool'Imogen Hermes Gowar is a soon-to-be literary star' - Sunday Times THIS VOYAGE IS SPECIAL. Oh how I adored this mysterious tale, darkly beautiful and beguiling, it called to me and still hasn’t let go. The cover is a stunner, calling for a pause before entering its heady depths. One of Jonah Hancock’s sea captains sells Jonah’s ship for a mermaid, all of society want to see this marvel and he is swept up into a world outside of his awareness. Courtesan Angelica Neal is on the edge of her beauty, she is determined to remain independent, yet the life she lives is ever watchful, ready to turn on her, to cast her out. The two meet, the mermaid calls to them, can they resist the dangers that threaten? The first chapter so eloquently describes Jonah, I felt his heart, touched his thoughts, and stepped beside him as he began to explore. I effortlessly sank in the words and read, Imogen Hermes Gowar writes with an artistic, otherworldly touch. What greets you is rich, yet subtle, provocative yet welcoming, there is a deeply magical edge that cuts a pathway to your soul, yet the reality, the bite, the tangibility of this tale can truly be felt. I quite simply adored ‘The Mermaid and Mrs Hancock’, it is a haunting, sumptuous, pearl of a read just awaiting discovery. ~ Liz Robinson
'A cracking historical novel - with a twinge of the surreal - about passion and obsession' The Times SHORLISTED FOR THE WOMEN'S PRIZE FOR FICTION 2018 One September evening in 1785, the merchant Jonah Hancock finds one of his captains waiting eagerly on his doorstep. 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 doors of high society, where he meets Angelica Neal, the most desirable woman he has ever laid eyes on... and a courtesan of great accomplishment. This meeting will steer both their lives onto a dangerous new course. What will be the cost of their ambitions? And will they be able to escape the legendary destructive power a mermaid is said to possess?
"e;Imogen Hermes Gowar is a soon-to-be literary star."e;Sunday Times(UK)"e;Historical fiction at its finest, combining myth and legend with the brutal realities of the past. . . . Comparisons will be drawn to the works of contemporary authors Sarah Waters and Michael Faber . . . butThe Mermaid and Mrs Hancockhas more in common with the novels of Dickens and Austen."e;Irish TimesIn 1780s London, a prosperous merchant finds his quiet life upended when he unexpectedly receives a most unusual creatureand meets a most extraordinary womanin this much-lauded, atmospheric debut that examines our capacity for wonder, obsession, and desire with all the magnetism, originality, and literary magic of The Essex Serpent.One September evening in 1785, Jonah Hancock hears an urgent knocking on his front door near the docks of London. The captain of one of Jonahs trading vessels is waiting eagerly on the front step, bearing shocking news. On a voyage to the Far East, he sold the Jonahs ship for something rare and far more precious: a mermaid. Jonah is stunnedthe object the captain presents him is brown and wizened, as small as an infant, with vicious teeth and claws, and a torso that ends in the tail of a fish. It is also dead.As gossip spreads through the docks, coffee shops, parlors and brothels, all of London is curious to see this marvel in Jonah Hancocks possession. Thrust from his ordinary existence, somber Jonah finds himself moving from the citys seedy underbelly to the finest drawing rooms of high society. At an opulent party, he makes the acquaintance of the coquettish Angelica Neal, the most desirable woman he has ever laid eyes onand a shrewd courtesan of great accomplishment. This meeting sparks a perilous liaison that steers both their lives onto a dangerous new course as they come to realize that priceless things often come at the greatest cost.Imogen Hermes Gowar, Britains most-heralded new literary talent, makes her debut with this spellbinding novel of a merchant, a mermaid, and a madaman unforgettable confection that explores obsession, wonder, and the deepest desires of the heart with bawdy wit, intrigue, and a touch of magic.
Random House presents the audiobook edition of The Mermaid and Mrs Hancock by Imogen Hermes Gowar, read by Juliet Stevenson.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 doors of high society. At an opulent party, he makes the acquaintance of Angelica Neal, the most desirable woman he has ever laid eyes on... and a courtesan of great accomplishment. This meeting will steer both their lives onto a dangerous new course, on which they will learn that priceless things come at the greatest cost.What will be the cost of their ambitions? And will they be able to escape the destructive power mermaids are said to possess? In this spell-binding story of curiosity and obsession, Imogen Hermes Gowar has created an unforgettable jewel of a novel, filled to the brim with intelligence, heart and wit.'A cracking historical novel... The story is by turns intriguing, touching, funny, sad and heartwarming. It will make you laugh and it may make you cry.... The Mermaid and Mrs Hancock is superb.' - The Times'A marvellous, high-energy, inventive romp through Georgian society. Rich in delicious period detail and written with a wickedly observant eye, the path of this unlikely romance leads down some unexpected byways to give a fantastic and thoroughly enjoyable reading treat.' - Daily Mail