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The Mermaid and Mrs Hancock
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2018 Book of the Month > May 2018 The Mermaid and Mrs Hancock

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message 2: by JenniferD (last edited Apr 13, 2018 09:35AM) (new) - rated it 2 stars

JenniferD (jooniperd) | 343 comments has anyone read this one already? if so, could you say - without spoilers - how deep the magical realism goes? magical realism is something i really struggle with in my reading. thank you so much for any help you can offer!


Lagullande | 76 comments Jennifer wrote: "has anyone read this one already? if so, could you say - without spoilers - how deep the magical realism goes? magical realism is something i really struggle with in my reading. thank you so much f..."

I've read it, Jennifer. Not much magical realism at all. We're definitely not talking Gabriel Garcia Marquez or Isabel Allende.


message 4: by Val (new) - rated it 4 stars

Val Most of the book is straight historical fiction, so I would not say that the magic realism is deep. There are creatures which are believed to be mermaids and one of them appears to have an effect on people. (I hope that is not a spoiler - it is in the title of the book.) You can read the book with a healthy dose of twentieth and twenty-first century scepticism and say to yourself that people back then believed in mermaids, but we don't nowadays, so long as you accept that the characters in the book believe in both the mermaid and its effect.


JenniferD (jooniperd) | 343 comments awesome -- thank you so much @lagullande, and @val! that is very helpful to know before going into the read. :)


Penny | 681 comments Mod
I too struggle with magical realism the very phrase is an oxymoron!! Maybe that’s the point though. There are 5 copies at my library and all have waiting lists. I wish they’d add more to the ebook library especially very recent books.


message 7: by Val (new) - rated it 4 stars

Val I quite like magic realism, more than pure fantasy anyway, but I understand that a lot of others don't.


message 8: by Val (new) - rated it 4 stars

Val Our May book is historical fiction (with a little bit of magic realism).
Do you think the author created a realistic picture of Georgian London?


Penny | 681 comments Mod
on the waiting list at the library for this one


JenniferD (jooniperd) | 343 comments okay... began reading this last night. just 55 pages in, so don't have much to chat about quite yet.


message 11: by Ace (new) - rated it 3 stars

Ace (aceonroam) I'm starting this one tonight.


JenniferD (jooniperd) | 343 comments i finished this one the other day, and - unfortunately - it is not one i liked very much. i totally appreciated gowar's writing, the settings/time, and the research that must have gone into this book, but i just never really got into a good groove with it. mostly, because i found the different parts of the story to be very clunky as it all unfolded.


message 13: by Ace (new) - rated it 3 stars

Ace (aceonroam) Val wrote: "Our May book is historical fiction (with a little bit of magic realism).
Do you think the author created a realistic picture of Georgian London?"


I'm not very convinced, not that I am an expert on this period.

I have started several other books so I'm not sure if I'll end up returning to this one. Especially after Jennifer's review above.


JenniferD (jooniperd) | 343 comments Ace wrote: "...Especially after Jennifer's review above. "

oh, shoot, ace! please don't let my feelings deter you from trying, if it's a book that otherwise appeals! we all respond differently and just because it didn't work for me, others have really loved it.

this is why i always hesitate to share less than stellar responses to books. i never want to take the wind out of anyone's reading sails! :)


message 15: by Ace (new) - rated it 3 stars

Ace (aceonroam) Jennifer wrote: "Ace wrote: "...Especially after Jennifer's review above. "

oh, shoot, ace! please don't let my feelings deter you from trying, if it's a book that otherwise appeals! we all respond differently and..."


It's only because I trust the opinions here Jennifer, so please don't worry. If I was interested in this book, I would have finished it by now. All good, and please keep sharing, I appreciate it heaps.

I just was not convinced by the writing and I even doubted some of the phrases were in use at the time. I will try to get some examples.

At the moment I have started the new Tim Winton, The Shepherd's Hut and I am totally hooked.


JenniferD (jooniperd) | 343 comments Ace wrote: "...At the moment I have started the new Tim Winton, The Shepherd's Hut and I am totally hooked."

okay, thanks for saying so! :)

oooh. i love tim winton - i am excited to hear you are loving his new one!


message 17: by Ace (new) - rated it 3 stars

Ace (aceonroam) Jennifer, here is an example that I found where the phrase ‘Trying them out,’ is used is by Sukie, around one fifth of the way through. Her mother is visitng and sees that she's been scrubbing with her good cuffs on. She says:

‘What were you about? Scrubbing the stairs with your good cuffs on, which cost three shillings at the last May Fair, and which you will certainly not see the like of again unless you can pay for them yourself?’
‘Trying them out,’ whispers Sukie.

I checked and the origins stated in dictionary.com that to try something on for size is as follows To try (something) on for size in the figurative sense is recorded from 1956.

I'm sure there were a couple of other instances like this that I noted earlier on, but I don't have the inclination to go back and check.


message 18: by Val (new) - rated it 4 stars

Val The O E D has earlier references:
try on: to test the fit or style of (a garment) by putting it on. Also absol.
1693 W. Congreve Old Batchelour iv. iii. 35 The Daughters only tore two Pair of Kid-Gloves, with trying 'em on.
1804 M. Edgeworth Will iv, in Pop. Tales I. 173 Miss Barton was trying on her dress.
1847 Thackeray Vanity Fair (1848) xiii. 109 He..tried a new coat in Pall Mall.
1883 Harper's Mag. Feb. 446/1 She must go at once and ‘try on!’ It is a special order.


message 19: by Ace (new) - rated it 3 stars

Ace (aceonroam) Ok thanks Val, I wasn't sure where else to check.


message 20: by Val (new) - rated it 4 stars

Val The O E D is a pedant's delight, but you need either to have a UK library membership or pay a subscription to search it. (There are a limited number of free searches without subscription.)


Penny | 681 comments Mod
I'm about halfway through this now and I love the writing and the story. It's nothing like what I was expecting - not sure exactly what I expected but far more 'fantasy' type story.
The depictions of the lifestyles and homes of Mr Hancock and Sukie and then Mrs Frost and Anjelica are full of detail and visually vibrant - if you get what I mean! -


message 22: by Penny (last edited Jul 03, 2018 04:05AM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Penny | 681 comments Mod
I finished this in about 4 days. A very enjoyable romp! I can't say I particularly like Anjelica but I did like Sukie and Mr Hancock. I felt that the strand following Polly was developing well and then dropped and I wanted to know more of what happened to her after she accessed the people that were on the list she was given.

I found it quite intriguing that the women so clearly distinguished themselves from being 'whores' when clearly they were prostitutes and later Anjelica refers to herself as a whore. Yet Mrs Chappell is so uppity that she deems her 'girls' above others and sometimes it seemed her girls were depicted as childish and silly until suddenly Polly wakes up to her situation. This was interesting to me but then dropped as a storyline.

I was unclear how far to carry the metaphor of the mermaid. Was she meant to be Anjelica? I found the idea of the mermaid sucking out all happiness quite selfish which is definitely the main characteristic of Anjelica.

I felt what the author did very well was to create a fully realised world where I was transported, causing me to read the book quickly. A different but worthy read!


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