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A Mercy Hardcover – Deckle Edge, November 11, 2008
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You may have noticed that some of our books are identified as "deckle edge" in the title. Deckle edge books are bound with pages that are made to resemble handmade paper by applying a frayed texture to the edges. Deckle edge is an ornamental feature designed to set certain titles apart from books with machine-cut pages. See a larger image.
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Top Customer Reviews
The novel reads quickly. You could finish it in a few hours if you were so inclined. I preferred to slow down and savor the contents. I will return this book again, after giving it a season on my shelf. It will never go to the library donation pile in my lifetime! Although I may be a bibliophile, in the extreme I would preserve only a few (hundred) books. This will be one of them.
Morrison uses shifting points of view to bring this short novel to life. The story unfolds through the eyes of each major character, although only one, Florens, speaks in the first person. Her voice is entirely in a vernacular, lacking conventional punctuation and sentence structure. The first few pages are moderately difficult to understand, but it becomes steadily more intelligible as you progress. The varied points of view remind me of The Sound and the Fury, especially in the opening chapter. But Florens is no Benjy, and Morrison's narrative bears only a superficial resemblance to Faulkner's. Although there is plenty of sorrow, and broken relationships all around, there is not a tone of hopeless cynicism.
I went back to read the first chapter several times, discovering more each time. You cannot understand some things at first. For example: "If a pea hen refuses to brood I read it quickly and sure enough that night I see a minha mae standing hand in hand with her little boy, my shoes jamming the pocket of her apron.Read more ›
Florens lives and works for the next eight years on Vaark's rural New York farm. Lina, a Native American, who works with her, tells in a parallel narrative how she became one of a handful of survivors of a plague that killed her tribe. Vaark's wife Rebekkah describes leaving England for New York to be married to a man she has never seen. The deaths of their subsequent children are devastating, and Vaark is hoping that eight-year-old Florens will help alleviate Rebekkah's loneliness. Vaark, himself an orphan and poorhouse survivor, describes his journeys from New York to Maryland and Virginia, commenting on the role of religion in the culture of the different colonies, along with their attitudes toward slavery.
All these characters are bereft of their roots, struggling to survive in an alien environment filled with danger and disease.Read more ›
Jacob Vaark, a Dutch-born farmer and trader, and Rebekka, his English wife own a tobacco plantation. Even though Jacob owned a few slaves, he did so only as a necessity to run his homestead. Jacob is sympathetic towards orphans and waifs because he himself was parentless at a young age, and had to fend for himself on the streets running small errands.
At the heart of the novel is an act of mercy. When Jacob Vaark travels to Maryland to collect debt from a tobacco plantaion owner named Senor D'Ortega, he finds out that Senor is broke and has no money to pay off the debt. Senor offers Jacob a thin black girl named Florens, a daughter of one of his slaves, as a partial payment of the debt. Florens is smart, and she can read and write also. Florens' mother senses that Jacob is more kind-hearted than her master, and so pleads with Senor to give Florens to Jacob. Her hope is that Florens would have a better life in Jacob's estate. Florens's mother considers this an act of mercy, but the irony is that Florence considers it abandonment.
Several sympathetic characters make the novel interesting and hold a reader's attention. Lina (Messalina), a native American, was sold to Jacob by the Presbytarians who had rescued and saved her. Sorrow, a sea captain's daughter, survives a ship wreck, but ends up in Jacob's plantation as a slave. Willard and Scully are indentured servants who are sent to work at Jacob's plantation by their contract holders.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
her writing is pretty confusing so you really have to pay attention to while reading to enjoy it.Published 2 months ago by lorina villarreal
The ending is so beautiful. Toni Morrison ties everything together so completely. This book will make you see a mother's love in a whole new way.Published 3 months ago by Imade
I recognize the art of TM's writing, but the book had few layers to it and the difficulty/reward quotient was not enough for me. If I were 20 I'd have more patience for all that. Read morePublished 3 months ago by miss ballard
Good book. Kinda confusing at first, but that's Toni Morrison's style. There is a lot going on. Tons of different characters to get to hear from. I really enjoyed it. Read morePublished 4 months ago by Elizabeth
I found myself reading and re-reading this book, which I can best describe as distilled genius. Its brevity, relative to many of Ms. Read morePublished 4 months ago by Mary Ann Zettelmaier
Morrison at her best, this one is right up there with Sula and Beloved. Elegant, clear, sharply economic prose.Published 5 months ago by Stephanie Zappa
I've always been fascinated by the fact the Morrison often tell more story with what she doesn't say than what she does. Read morePublished 5 months ago by Archetype
In the beginning, it was hard to understand because it was a different way of writing rather than a narrative. Read morePublished 6 months ago by Sivana Ascencio