Mermaid of Black Conch: Book summary and reviews of Mermaid of Black Conch by Monique Roffey

Mermaid of Black Conch

A Love Story

by Monique Roffey

Mermaid of Black Conch by Monique Roffey X
Mermaid of Black Conch by Monique Roffey
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  • Published in USA  Apr 2020
    190 pages
    Genre: Novels

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Book Summary

David, a fisherman, sings to himself in his pirogue, waiting for a catch – and attracts a sea-dweller he doesn't expect. Aycayia, a centuries old mermaid, is drawn to his singing. But her curiosity is her undoing when she is caught by American tourists…

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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Book Awards

  • award image Costa Book Awards, 2021

Reviews

Media Reviews

"What makes the novel sing is how Roffey fleshes out mythical goings-on with pin-sharp detail from the real world." - The Observer

"The Mermaid of Black Conch is a beautiful book and a joy to read." - Nikita Gill

"Monique Roffey is a writer of verve, vibrancy and compassion, and her work is always a joy to read." - Sarah Hall

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Author Information

Monique Roffey Author Biography

Photo: Jonathan Proctor

Monique Roffey was born in Port of Spain, Trinidad and educated in the UK. She is the author of five books, four novels and a memoir. Three of her novels are set in Trinidad and the Caribbean region. The White Woman on the Green Bicycle (2009) was shortlisted for the Orange Prize in 2010 and the Encore Award in 2011. Archipelago (2012) won the OCM BOCAS award for Caribbean Literature in 2013 and was shortlisted for the Orion Award 2014. House of Ashes, published in 2014, is a novel drawn from historical events and tells the story of a gunman, a hostage and a child soldier caught up in a botched coup d'etat. It was shortlisted for the COSTA Fiction Award, 2015 and longlisted for the OCM BOCAS Award in 2015. Her memoir, With the Kisses of His Mouth traces a personal journey of mid-life ...

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