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    The Mermaid of Black Conch: A Love Story

    £9.99
    Recommended by our Board member, Fiammetta Rocco: The Caribbean has long been a place that forces us to rethink stories we thought we knew, from The Wide Sargasso Sea, Jean Rhyss’s take on Jane Eyre, to Omeros, Derek Walcott’s epic rewriting of Homer.

    The book that has most opened my eyes this year is Monique Roffey’s The Mermaid of Black Conch, a novel that is as much a reimagining of Pygmalion as a riff on the arrival of the disruptive stranger that changes a community beyond all imagining – but more.

    Described as a “fishy tale of doomed womanhood”, the Costa Book of the Year in 2020 tells of a mermaid who tries to put the sea behind her and the fisherman who snares her and tries to save her. It’s about music, love, loss, and coming to terms with slavery – and it’s the most erotic novel I’ve read in many years. You can’t say more than that: The Mermaid of Black Conch is a magical miracle.

    ISBN: 9781845234577
    AuthorMonique Roffey
    Pub Date02/04/2020
    Availability: In Stock

    Winner of the Costa Book of the Year Award

    Winner of Costa Novel of the Year
    Shortlisted For the Republic of Consciousness Prize
    Shortlisted for the Rathbones Folio Prize
    Shortlisted for the Goldsmiths Prize
    Longlisted for the OCM Bocas Prize for Caribbean Literature

    April 1976: St Constance, a tiny Caribbean village on the island of Black Conch, at the start of the rainy season. A fisherman sings to himself in his pirogue, waiting for a catch – but attracts a sea-dweller he doesn’t expect. Aycayia, a beautiful young woman cursed by jealous wives to live as a mermaid, has been swimming the Caribbean Sea for centuries. And she is entranced by this man David and his song.

    But her fascination is her undoing. She hears his boat’s engine again and follows it, and finds herself at the mercy of American tourists, landed on the island for the annual fishing competition. After a fearsome battle, she is pulled out of the sea and strung up on the dock as a trophy. It is David who rescues her, and gently wins her trust – as slowly, painfully, she starts to transform into a woman again. But transformations are not always permanent, and jealousy, like love, can have the force of a hurricane, and last much longer

    The novel’s characters are an unlikely mix: a mermaid, a fisherman, a deaf boy, a Caribbean artist and sweetman and a benevolent white landowner. Miss Arcadia Rain’s own love story is interwoven with Aycayia and David’s and the rivalries and affections in both family and community are brought brilliantly to life. Themes of unconditional love, friendship, family and loss, are examined without sentimentality. Roffey manages to write convincingly about a mermaid, a 'legend drawn from the sea', returned to land, to survive, heal and live again, as a real woman in modern times.

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    Winner of the Costa Book of the Year Award

    Winner of Costa Novel of the Year
    Shortlisted For the Republic of Consciousness Prize
    Shortlisted for the Rathbones Folio Prize
    Shortlisted for the Goldsmiths Prize
    Longlisted for the OCM Bocas Prize for Caribbean Literature

    April 1976: St Constance, a tiny Caribbean village on the island of Black Conch, at the start of the rainy season. A fisherman sings to himself in his pirogue, waiting for a catch – but attracts a sea-dweller he doesn’t expect. Aycayia, a beautiful young woman cursed by jealous wives to live as a mermaid, has been swimming the Caribbean Sea for centuries. And she is entranced by this man David and his song.

    But her fascination is her undoing. She hears his boat’s engine again and follows it, and finds herself at the mercy of American tourists, landed on the island for the annual fishing competition. After a fearsome battle, she is pulled out of the sea and strung up on the dock as a trophy. It is David who rescues her, and gently wins her trust – as slowly, painfully, she starts to transform into a woman again. But transformations are not always permanent, and jealousy, like love, can have the force of a hurricane, and last much longer

    The novel’s characters are an unlikely mix: a mermaid, a fisherman, a deaf boy, a Caribbean artist and sweetman and a benevolent white landowner. Miss Arcadia Rain’s own love story is interwoven with Aycayia and David’s and the rivalries and affections in both family and community are brought brilliantly to life. Themes of unconditional love, friendship, family and loss, are examined without sentimentality. Roffey manages to write convincingly about a mermaid, a 'legend drawn from the sea', returned to land, to survive, heal and live again, as a real woman in modern times.

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