In the 1680s the slave trade was still in its infancy. In the Americas, virulent religious and class division, prejudice and oppression were rife, providing the fertile soil in which slavery and race hatred were carefully planted and took root. Jacob is an Anglo-Dutch trader and adventurer, with a smallholding in the harsh North. Despite his ...
In the 1680s the slave trade was still in its infancy. In the Americas, virulent religious and class division, prejudice and oppression were rife, providing the fertile soil in which slavery and race hatred were carefully planted and took root. Jacob is an Anglo-Dutch trader and adventurer, with a smallholding in the harsh North. Despite his distaste for dealing in 'flesh', he takes a small slave girl, in part payment for a bad debt from a plantation owner in Catholic Maryland. This is Florens, 'with the hands of a slave and the feet of a Portuguese lady', who can read and write and might be useful on his farm. Florens is hungry for love, at first from the older servant woman at her new master's house; but later, when she's sixteen, from the handsome blacksmith, an African, never enslaved, who comes riding into their lives...And all of them have stories: Lina, the native American servant, whose tribe was decimated by smallpox; their mistress Rebekka, herself a victim of religious fervour back in England; young Sorrow, daughter of a sea captain who's spent too many years at sea to be quite...normal; and, finally, there's Florens's own mother back home in Maryland. This is their plight - men and women inventing themselves in the wilderness. A Mercy reveals what lies under the surface of slavery, and the opening chapter of the story of sugar, that great maw which was to eat up millions of lives. But at its heart, like Beloved, this is the ambivalent, disturbing story of a mother and a daughter in a violent ad-hoc world - a world where acts of mercy, like everything else, have unforeseen consequences.
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A Mercy is not given enough attention. An important book and important part of Morrison's body of work.
Dec 29, 2009
a one day read
If you love Morrison, you know it usually takes a while to get through her complex books, but A Mercy is short enough- and simple enough- for an adult with a few hours of free time to read in one day. Morrison captures different characters by using different points of view skillfully and beautifully. A careful reader easily hears each person. If you're a mom, this book will resonate, as several of the women deal with child-related tragedy. I've read Beloved 6 times and loved it more each time, and A Mercy might not be "as good as" Beloved, but it is haunting, harsh, and gorgeous all at the same time.
Jan 30, 2009
Excellent Book- Very thought provoking yet easy to follow the different storylines. I LOVED the way to weaves in the significance of the title- You really feel the act as truly, A MERCY-
Publishers Weekly, 2008-12-22 Some authors make mediocre readers, but Nobel Prize-winning Toni Morrison is certainly not among them. Her husky voice, lyrical rhythms and precise timing--especially of pauses within sentences or even phrases--give clarity and poignancy to her vivid metaphors and elegant prose. Set in the 1680s, this story tells of multiple forms of love and of slavery. Florens is a slave girl whose mother urges her sale to Jacob, a decent man, to save her from a rapist master. Florens feels abandoned and is finally betrayed by the lover she worships. Morrison holds the listener completely in thrall through her narrative, her characters, her language and her own fine reading. An enlightening interview with the author appears at the end. A Knopf hardcover (Reviews, Sept. 15). (Nov.) Copyright 2008 Reed Business Information.
Publishers Weekly, 2008-09-15 Nobel laureate Morrison returns more explicitly to the net of pain cast by slavery, a theme she detailed so memorably in Beloved. Set at the close of the 17th century, the book details America's untoward foundation: dominion over Native Americans, indentured workers, women and slaves. A slave at a plantation in Maryland offers up her daughter, Florens, to a relatively humane Northern farmer, Jacob, as debt payment from their owner. The ripples of this choice spread to the inhabitants of Jacob's farm, populated by women with intersecting and conflicting desires. Jacob's wife, Rebekka, struggles with her faith as she loses one child after another to the harsh New World. A Native servant, Lina, survivor of a smallpox outbreak, craves Florens's love to replace the family taken from her, and distrusts the other servant, a peculiar girl named Sorrow. When Jacob falls ill, all these women are threatened. Morrison's lyricism infuses the shifting voices of her characters as they describe a brutal society being forged in the wilderness. Morrison's unflinching narrative is all the more powerful for its relative brevity; it takes hold of the reader and doesn't let go until the wrenching final-page crescendo. (Nov.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved
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