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by Harriet Mercer
‘Gargoyles, a blend of memoir and essay, brilliantly captures in form and craft the disembodied experience of sudden and life-threatening illness.’
– The Times Literary Supplement


INCLUDED in Florence Welch’s Between Two Books Book Club:
‘Her writing is bright and hopeful, as she finds that not all gargoyles can be defeated, and there are some we have to learn to live alongside.’


‘Gargoyles is deeply moving, providing a serious connection with readers.’

‘Gargoyles is a beautiful book about an awful experience; a very elegant, moving and timely study of illness and how it influences time, memory and reality.’
– Sara Baume, author of A Line Made By Walking and Handiwork


‘Experimental and daring, tender and compelling; Gargoyles is a story of illness, trauma and self-knowledge that has burnt itself into my mind forever.
I urge you to read this beautifully written and startling book.’
– Rebecca Tamás, author of Strangers WITCH   


Six weeks after her fortieth birthday, Harriet is struck by a rare and life-threatening illness. An emergency hospital visit turns into an arduous, lengthy stay. Attempts at sleep only bring visions of soul-sucking gargoyles, the lurking demons manifesting Harriet’s fear of death, her relationship with her late father, and her dream of having a family.

A stunning blend of memoir and insightful essays on literary and film culture, from Giovanni’s Room to Anthony Hopkins, Tess of the d’Urbervilles to Joaquin Phoenix’s ‘Joker’, Harriet seamlessly interweaves personal experience with insightful cultural commentary that questions how we live, and thrive, with pain.

Gargoyles explores the power of illness, grief, love, loss, and memory, asking us to celebrate what is in front of us and to not take our lives and health for granted. Sometimes, this means we have to learn to live with the gargoyles.

Harriet Mercer lives in London and roams parks, fields and concrete jungles with a camera slung over her shoulder. She is a winner of the University of London MA in Creative Writing Prize.

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