Bookworm In Your Ear: Women Of The World
Three lady authors are on display with these two novels, one a legend who lives on in a continuation effort thanks to her countrywoman; and the third a first-time writer the literary world is all abuzz about.
The Mermaid and Mrs. Hancock by Imogen Hermes Gowar
This is Gowar’s debut novel, and already its been shortlisted for this year’s Women’s Fiction Prize and the Desmond Elliott. Set in England in the late 18th Century Georgian period, it’s a rich, lushly textured tale that involves men of commerce, courtesans, and what is or isn't a real-life mermaid. It’s in how we just get swept along for the ride and never question the credibility of the oddity mermaid that I commend the writing of Gowar. The life of the courtesan Angeline is similarly beautifully etched, with surprising touches of modernity and attitude, that yet feel at home in the period piece. The gap between royals and toffs on one hand, and the men of commerce who toil and try to rise in the world is rendered with conviction. Well deserving of any prize it garners.
Money in the Morgue by Ngaio Marsh and Stella Duffy
In what is referred to as a ‘continuation novel’, we are gifted with a return of mystery writer Ngaio Marsh, courtesy of Stella Duffy taking up the cudgels. New Zealander Marsh passed away in the 1980s, and was considered one of the queens of the Golden Age of crime fiction, along with Agatha Christie, Dorothy Sayers, and Margery Allingham. The first few chapters of this novel were found after her death, and fellow Kiwi Stella Duffy completes the novel in a truly seamless manner. It all takes place in a military hospital during World War II, and kicks off with a storm and the payroll of several hospitals being placed in Matron’s safe. The money disappears, a corpse shows up, and we have Det. Allenby incognito at the hospital working on an espionage case.