Before Imogen Hermes Gowar was a writer, she worked at visitor services for the British Museum. There she came across a rare and hideous artefact, a mummified monkey stitched to the tail of a fish. Fascinated, she plunged into the story that became her first novel, The Mermaid and Mrs Hancock. Thanks to a feckless captain, Jonah Hancock -- a merchant -- loses a ship but finds himself apparently in possession of a mermaid. Gowar wickedly evokes the brothels and coffee shops of Georgian London, abuzz with talk of this extraordinary creature. he impeccable period detail is brought to life by the sheer joy of Gowar’s prose in this bawdy, witty tale. And she has particular fun with Angelica Neal, a spoilt, spirited and highly accomplished courtesan.