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Mercy Paperback – April 1, 2001


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 416 pages
  • Publisher: Washington Square Press; Later Printing edition (April 1, 2001)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0743422449
  • ISBN-13: 978-0743422444
  • Product Dimensions: 8.3 x 5.3 x 1.1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (269 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #29,430 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

What could have been a competent, topical novel about a mercy killing becomes, in Picoult's (following Picture Perfect, 1995) hands, an inspired meditation on love. The setting is Wheelock, Mass., a slightly eccentric town where most of the residents are of Scottish descent, where weddings end in a blood vow, the name MacDonald is "painted on an alarming number of mailboxes" and police chief Cameron MacDonald doubles as clan chief and protector. On a seemingly ordinary day in Wheelock, Jamie MacDonald, a cousin of Cameron's, drives to the police station and announces: "My wife here, Maggie, is dead, and I'm the one who killed her." Cam finds himself saddled with a murder case and a conflict of interest: his cousin has given in to the pleas of his cancer-ravaged wife to kill her, and he's come to the clan chief to confess. But as police chief, Cam must also prosecute. On the same day, Cam's wife, Allie, the local florist, hires Mia, a violet-eyed beauty with a genius for flower arranging. Allie gets involved in Jamie's case, and Cam, who has spent his life in service to his community and his clan, falls in love with Mia and begins an affair that will bring his marriage to the breaking point and change it profoundly. Like Jamie, Allie is the marriage partner who loves more. "It's never fifty-fifty," says Jamie. As Jamie's court case proceeds, Picoult plumbs the emotional core of both marriages. The pace of the trial is slow, but Picoult pays loving attention to her central characters, fashioning a sensitive exploration of the balance of love.
Copyright 1996 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Library Journal

Cameron MacDonald is both the chief of police in the Massachusetts village of Wheelock and the reluctant figurehead chieftain of the MacDonald clan, which immigrated there in the late 1700s. Thus it is to Cam that his cousin Jamie turns after he accedes to his suffering wife's wish and helps her to die. Cam, who longs to travel and free himself from his family obligation, arrests Jamie for first-degree murder but then hires a lawyer for him. On that same day, exotic young Mia wanders into the village and is hired by Cam's wife, Allie, to help out in her florist shop. Cam and Allie have reached a comfortable plateau in their marriage, but both sense that something is missing. Mia and Cam are irresistibly drawn to each other, she to his established place in local society and he to her itinerant lifestyle. The story explores love and the intricate balance of give and take that marriage demands. Picoult (Picture Perfect, LJ 1/95) offers a well-written novel with touches of spirituality that are reminiscent of Alice Hoffman's stories. Highly recommended for most collections.?Kathleen Stevens, Fairfax Cty. P. L., Vir.
Copyright 1996 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

More About the Author

I grew up on Long Island with my parents and my little brother, the product of a ridiculously happy childhood. My mom says I've been writing as long as she remembers - my first masterpiece was "The Lobster That Was Misunderstood," at age 5. I honed my writing skills beyond that, one hopes, before I headed off to Princeton, where I wanted to work with living, breathing authors in their creative writing program. Mary Morris was my teacher/mentor, and I really do believe I wouldn't be where I am today if not for her guidance and expertise. I had two short stories published in SEVENTEEN magazine when I was in college. However, when I graduated, a desire to not eat ramen noodles exclusively and to be able to pay my rent led me to take a job on Wall Street (not a great idea, since I can't even balance my checkbook). When the stock market crashed in 1987, I moved to Massachusetts and over the course of two years, worked at a textbook publishing company, taught creative writing at a private school, became an ad copywriter, got a master's in education at Harvard, got married, taught at a public school, and had a baby. My first novel was published shortly after my son was born, and I've always said that the reason I kept writing is because it's so much easier than teaching English.

In fourteen years, I've published thirteen novels: Songs of the Humpback Whale, Harvesting the Heart, Picture Perfect, Mercy, The Pact, Keeping Faith, Plain Truth, Salem Falls, Perfect Match, Second Glance, My Sister's Keeper, Vanishing Acts, and the upcoming The Tenth Circle, this March. Two of my books (Plain Truth and The Pact) were made into Lifetime TV movies; Keeping Faith will be another. My Sister's Keeper is in development at New Line Cinema to be a feature film. And there isn't a single day that I don't stop and marvel at the fact that when I go to work, I get to do what I love the most.

My husband Tim and I live in Hanover, NH with our three kids, a dog, a rabbit, and the occasional donkey or cow.

Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

87 of 93 people found the following review helpful By Nancy Martin on September 16, 2001
Format: Paperback
I can't remember reading a book where all the characters had such undesirable traits that reading any further became an effort. The only character who was somewhat bearable was a cat and that's probably because it spent its time either eating or hidden in someone's backpack serving as a parallel to everything else that's hidden away in this small town of Wheelock, MA.
I'm already a Jodi Picoult fan having read and liked four of her other books -- The Pact, Keeping Faith, Plain Truth and Salem Falls -- so when I say that I didn't enjoy this book at all, I have a good basis for comparison. Never before have I read a book where I felt so detached from each and every character. The wife Allie has no backbone, the husband Cam has no loyalty, the mistress Mia has no values, the mercy killer Jamie has no fortitude, his dead wife Maggie was selfish, Cam's mother Ellen is a wacko.....I could go on and on.
The backdrop of the story is one of intense love -- so intense that your emotions take over your senses. There's a case of a mercy killing, another story of a cheating spouse and a courtroom scene where all the scenarios are played out. The events leading up to and after the killing are all impulsive -- sometimes so impulsive that they're hard to believe. There are other parts in the book where reality is suspended and mysticism takes over. I'm always at a loss when an author resorts to this.
Probably the biggest complaint I have is the intense lack of editing. I can't stand when I'm reading a book and two people are having a conversation yet the name you're reading on the typewritten page is NOT the name of the person who is actually doing the talking.
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57 of 65 people found the following review helpful By Denise Bentley on December 14, 2000
Format: Hardcover
Euthanasia is the subject and it is handled quite well by this author. First I want you to know that there are no spoilers here. The book starts with the act of suffocation and then goes on to explain the circumstances. Jamie MacDonald loves his wife Maggie with a fierce loyalty. When Maggie's cancer ridden body becomes more than she can bear she asks him to kill her. What follows is a journey that there is no coming back from.
Cam MacDonald is the highly respected police chief in a small town and is married to Allie who adores him to the point that she has lost herself in this man she calls her husband. The sun rises in the east due to the light she sees in Cam's eyes. Allie's world is about to come crashing down around her. Hers is also a journey that will take her to a place that there is no coming back from.
Cam is not only the police chief, but by no choice of his own, he has become the respected head of the MacDonald Clan, whose ancestors hail from Scotland. They have settled in Wheelock, Massachusetts over the centuries. Jamie comes to Wheeloch to enjoy his last hours with Maggie and commit his act of love.
The author has created a multifaceted situation and has gone on to superbly blend the stories together. We are dealt a betrayal on two fronts and we watch as the characters wade through the mire that their lives become because of it. This is another great book by Picoult. She was kind enough to chat with my book group on line a few months back and told us this was her personal favorite. I have to admit I'm hooked, and I have now bought every one of her books. I am anxiously awaiting her new book SALEM FALLS that should be out in the first part of the New Year. 12/14/00
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22 of 23 people found the following review helpful By lisatheratgirl VINE VOICE on February 28, 2005
Format: Paperback
I have read most of Jodi Picoult's books and reviewed some, and they were all outstanding. This is the first one in which I was really disappointed. After page 25, I knew a lot about one person's genealogy, another's high school reminiscences, an unknown person who had a tag sale of all her husband's stuff when he was away, and a few notes with no indication who wrote them or to whom they were written or what they had to do with anything. The story seemed to be constantly sidetracking. It took forever to cut to the action and then it would be interrupted by more distractions.

I didn't get the point of having this book set in a town inhabited by an entire Scottish clan that emigrated together two hundred years before. Maybe there actually is a town like this, but it didn't ring true. By page 100, the names of the characters were making me nuts. It reminded me of Brigadoon where there is a song that goes something like MacGregor, MacDougall, Macduff and MacCoy, McKenna MacNeil and MacRae, etc. If she had set the book in Scotland, not everyone would have names like this. It was impossible for me to take seriously anyone named Verona MacBean. There also names like Watchell Spitlick (!)

The plot seems far-fetched and unrealistic. The issue is a good one; there is a controversial case in the Florida courts right now. But smothering your wife and then pulling up in the main square to announce it to the whole town, with the dead body in tow-they didn't even do that in Brigadoon. You're kind of waiting for James to break into song at this point. Allie hiring Mia and inviting her to stay in their house when she knows nothing about her and doesn't even ask is crazy. She could be a fugitive from justice, a serial killer, an illegal immigrant with no Social Security number, who knows.
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