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The Mercy of Thin Air: A Novel Paperback – June 20, 2006
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From Publishers Weekly
A gothically tinged historical take on The Lovely Bones, this debut novel manages to carve out some of its own territory. In late 1920s New Orleans, Raziela "Razi" Nolan carries on a passionate college love affair with Andrew O'Connell (while planning to be a gynecologist). She desires immortality ("One lifetime isn't enough to make all the trouble of which I'm capable") and gets her wish when she slips poolside, dies and finds herself in a state "between life and whatever comes next" in which she may observe the world she's left behind and even meddle mildly. As she learns the rules of "the between" Razi finds it too painful to keep track of Andrew. But 70 years after her death in 1929, she is curious to know what happened to her beloved and is drawn to a young couple, Amy Richmond and Scott Duncan. Domingue captures the equally repressive and uninhibited culture of 1920s America, creates a convincing world of "the between," and gives nice shape to the loving but troubled relationship of Amy and Scott as Razi uncovers her connection to them. The novel lacks a fully distinctive voice, but is certainly several cuts above the genre mysteries and historicals it most resembles.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
Echoing Alice Sebold's The Lovely Bones (2002), debut novelist Domingue places her protagonist, Razi Nolan, "between," that is, in the place where souls go after death, perhaps for decades, before proceeding to whatever comes next. Razi dies in a drowning accident in July 1929, just after graduating from Tulane. Headed to medical school, she was involved with the dissemination of, at the time, illegal birth control information to unmarried women. Now, 70 years later, Razi attempts to find out what happened to Andrew, the love of her life. A parallel plot involves a young couple, Amy and Scott, who are drifting apart because Amy is unable to forget her first fiance, who died tragically 6 years earlier. In each plot, so different in time and place, Domingue takes a probing look at what produces strong and independent women, be it environment, education, or genes. Though Domingue gets a little bogged down in the intricate details of hidden family ties, the well-drawn characters of Razi and Amy ensure that this is an engaging tale. Deborah Donovan
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Top Customer Reviews
I have read this book six times now. Six. And each time is just as good, if not better, than the last. The words and verbiage are so freaking breathtaking that you spend so much time rereading lines...they are utterly transcending.
There are a few quotes in this book that will stick with you for a lifetime. Because the words are just that good. Seriously.
The love in this story is one that battles even the love that Jamie and Claire have, and that says a lot. It's the type of love that most won't ever experience, or even believe can exist. This love story isn't perfect, and it isn't usual, but it will leave you shattered, but put back together..piece by puzzle piece.
I was glad I didn't pass it up, because it's a very fine novel ("The Lovely Bones" pales in comparison).
Domingue never puts a foot wrong in it. Every time there's a possibility that it might veer off into woo woo or other territory I don't admire, it doesn't. There's a wonderful blend of the spiritual (in the largest sense) with the mundane affairs of the world. I never felt it was either/or - instead, she constructs a world in which each pole felt natural, never forced, wholly a part of the novel's dream.
Although it's a very different genre, I think this book resembles "Reindeer Moon," by Elizabeth Marshall Thomas, in that although the narration is typically from a spirit world, the focus is on the natural world, both before and during the narration from the other world. In both cases what you get is an unusual and (to me) very pleasing narrative style.