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The Mercy of Thin Air: A Novel Paperback – June 20, 2006

4.3 out of 5 stars 123 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

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.

From Booklist

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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Product Details

  • Paperback: 336 pages
  • Publisher: Washington Square Press; Reprint edition (June 1, 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0743278828
  • ISBN-13: 978-0743278829
  • Product Dimensions: 5.3 x 1 x 8.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (123 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #452,212 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Bonnie Jo Davis VINE VOICE on October 17, 2005
Format: Hardcover
The Mercy of Thin Air is a lovely book. It is the first book I've read cover to cover in a long time. The basis of the book is a ghost story but the real story is how people come to terms with a lost love. In most cases a love story ends with some sort of resolution or understanding but when one of the parties is dead there is no resolution... only a hole in the heart that can never be filled.

A great deal of the story is set in New Orleans in the 20's and it features a gorgeous blond feminist Raziela Nolan. She dies accidentally after graduating from college and while in the throes of an unexpected love affair. Her boyfriend and her family and friends are devasted and the book talks about how the living and the dead cope with loss.

I highly recommend this novel. The story resonated with me and I could not put it down.
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Format: Hardcover
Occasionally there is a book that I can't put down, yet don't want to end. THE MERCY OF THIN AIR was one such book. I sacrificed a night's sleep to keep turning the pages, unable to stop reading, not wanting to lose the magic of this haunting tale of love, loss, regret and release. A part of me lingered within the pages for days. An indefinable ache, a momentary welling of tears kept me hovering within the vapor of Ronlyn Domingue's moving first novel. As has been said by others, her voice is original, her images tangible, breathtaking, and the reader is left hungry for more.
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Format: Hardcover
...But I didn't. The reviews were so good, and the premise of the book was so intriguing, I couldn't wait to read it. My primary criticism of the book was that it was choppy. I love books told with multiple narrators and different points of view. But because each "chapter" was was so short (usually just a few paragraphs), by the time the reader understands who's talking and whether they are in the present or the past, it's time to move on to another character.

There were many enjoyable aspects though. The setting--New Orleans in the 20's, some memorable characaters--Razi and Etoile in particular. The writing was, at times, delicious, and the concept of being "between" was really thought provoking. There is a particularly memorable scene where Razi comes across a little girl who is "between" and helps guide her to a more legitimate death. Wow, what a scene.

I wanted to love this book the way I loved the Time Traveller's Wife, but I didn't.
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Format: Paperback
The book, The Mercy of Thin Air, was an excellent book. There are so many chick lit books about with light airy romances, it was good to read this book telling of a love that would never die.

The book had so many layers. The story of Razi, her death, and her neverending love for Andrew. Then there was the story of Amy and Scott - her "unforgettable" love who also died, her reconcilation of it to go on with Scott.

Then there were the other ghosts. The children who did not know they died, the old woman who was stung to death in the front yard of her plantation but who still waiting for the Yankees to come, and all the others.
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Format: Hardcover
and then every once in awhile, someone important in your life, who really focuses upon what you would like, tells you about a book they've loved. Such is "The Mercy of Thin Air".

And though detractors might say that first time novelist Ronlyn Domingue (who has published short stories) is simply building upon the idea first thought of by Alice Sebold in "The Lovely Bones". Perhaps she is, but Domingue adds a joyousness and rationale for the life thereafter, and those souls caught between heaven and earth as a choice they've made. Her protagonist is Raziela, a '20's flapper who is written to convey someone caught up in "women's issues" of the era. Issues we don't stop to think are issues. The suffragettes have won the vote...so what more is there? Well, consider the issue of a woman being allowed to seek out birth control. In her novel, Domingue sets these types of issues to the music and words of Raziela's love story. And in her descriptions of New Orleans, the Cresent City of the 20's, you'll fall in love with her.

Without revealing how she dies, Domingue catches us up on Raziela's after life, and her interesting cohabitation with young marrieds Scott and Amy, while she ponders what may have happened to Razi's paramour, Andrew, in the days, weeks and years subsequent to her death. The story cuts from past to present, now at Raziela's coming of age, now at the tableau she watches as the marriage of Scott and Amy undergoes a transformation -- part of which Razi causes, part of which she seeks to cure.

Interesting plot and character evolution notwithstanding, it is not the central force of Domingue's writing. I reserve that for her command and flow of words, and how her words convey the senses. In her quest for phrasing, she sometimes gets carried away ...
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By A Customer on September 16, 2005
Format: Hardcover
In late 1920s New Orleans, while at college Raziela "Razi" Nolan and Andrew O'Connell share a heated romance. In 1929 she slips at a poolside and dies. However, Razi who wanted to live forever finds herself at THE MERCY OF THIN AIR, a gray world in between the mortal plane and the afterlife. She can see back to her former home and over time learns she can slightly interfere with humans, but emotionally she was never able to watch what happened to her beloved Andrew after she died though she would constantly peek at others from their circle.

That is until seven decades on earth have passed. She decides to learn about Andrew, but is interested in Amy Richmond and Scott Duncan. This pair seems so in love yet so troubled. Their relationship appears to be in jeopardy at least from what Razi can perceive. However, even as she feels an obsession to intercede and insure this pair makes it together, Razi tries to figure out why them.

Razi is a tremendous protagonist looking back to life in the 1920s in New Orleans especially with her beloved Andrew, which enables readers to gain an interesting feel for the place and time. Her reflections on her life and on her post time existence in the thin air are well written and her amateur sleuth investigation from the other side is cleverly devised adding an aura of suspense. However, the tale belongs to the moral lesson of never take for granted loved ones or what the senses provide when one is alive.

Harriet Klausner
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