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“Gowar’s novel has more than a touch of the morality tale about it along the lines of Thackeray’s Vanity Fair or Michel Faber’s The Crimson Petal and the White, exploring the position of women in eighteenth-century society all wrapped up in a good old-fashioned bit of storytelling replete with period detail. Women are dependent on men to make their way in this world – Mrs Chappell earns her money from their debauchery, Bel finds her way to respectability and security through marriage – Mrs Flowerday is perhaps the most independent, shrewdly using her dowry as a counterweight when her husband oversteps the mark. As in the best morality tales, there’s a great deal of sly wit running through the narrative…”         Susan Osborne, A Life In Books

…”the advantage of reading a shortlist is that it opens your eyes to books that you wouldn’t have considered before. Gowar’s book is well researched and her attention to detail for the period is spot on. Even though it is almost 500 pages long, it didn’t read like a long novel. The prose is flowery and elaborate but suits the time period that it is written in well. It has a strong moral tale and about obsession, oppression and tragedy. ” – Paul Cheney, Half Man Half Book

“A captivating reflection on class, desire, and morals, the prose throughout The Mermaid and Mrs Hancock is beautiful, abundant with wonderful descriptions and rich period details, and her sense of setting is both immersive and whimsical. London and its dark glimmering corners are evoked wonderfully and its theatres brothels, coffee houses, and the villainy, the dangers, the dirt and the stench are really brought to life.” – Lucy Pearson, The Lit Edit

“Quite often you find that a really outstanding book leans either to having a twisty turny attention grabbing plot OR great characters and character development but not often both together and thats fine, but one of the great positives of this book for me (of which there are many) is that this book is both rich in plot and depth of characters. The story line is so engrossing and my god the characters just leap off the page! They are so well developed and stunningly written I felt as if I was watching them play out the various scenes right in front of me. They are colourful, brimming with life, sometimes vile, sometimes very easy to dislike but always, always engaging.” Amanda Chatterton, Bookish Chat

The Mermaid and Mrs Hancockcontinues the trend of historical novels that are filled with rich detail, the glamour and grunge of the city, and a vivid cast of characters. This novel also brings in a slightly fantastical element with the mermaid, which I think makes it a bit more original than some other novels in this vein. From the start the novel is very engaging and immersive, full of descriptive detail and a wide cast of characters. It is written in the present tense, which I wasn’t sure about at first as this can often be misused, but I was quickly convinced that it was the right choice for this novel.” – Lizzi Risch – These Little Words

Young Writer Award @YoungWriterYear

Follow us on twitter. The Sunday Times / Peters Fraser & Dunlop Young Writer of the Year Award, in association with the University of Warwick is a prize of £5,000 for a writer under 35.

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