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A Mercy Audio CD – Audiobook, Unabridged
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From Publishers Weekly
Starred Review. 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.)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.
From Bookmarks Magazine
Several reviewers ranked A Mercy near the top of Toni Morrison's catalogue—an impressive feat. Given the subject of slavery, comparisons with Beloved are inevitable; critics tended to think of A Mercy as a more compact companion piece to that work. Many reviewers also noted that A Mercy is more accessible than Morrison's other novels that were written since she won the Nobel Prize, showing that the award does not, in fact, curse its recipients with literary decline. But a few reviewers also noted the inevitable deference given to an author like Morrison. Some sections of A Mercy may seem obscure, they suggested, but that obscurity simply indicates that those sections deserve another read. The reviewer from the Dallas Morning News summed it up nicely: this novel is more accessible than Morrison's recent work, and is all the better for it. But there is still plenty of allusion and poetry so that you won't forget who you're reading—or why there may be a few passages that you're rereading.
Copyright 2008 Bookmarks Publishing LLC --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.
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Top customer reviews
"A Mercy" is beautiful - haunting, sad, realistic, and painful - but beautifully crafted. Morrison's prose is well-written and full of intense detail. The story moves at a good pace. There are no unrealistic happy endings and none of the plot feels forced or contrived. The beauty of the novel doesn't hide the fact that it's incredibly confusing. This is definitely a book that readers will appreciate more on a second reading than the first.
Also, a main theme is that of how a slave mother asks Vaark in a silent way to take her daughter. The daughter, Florens, feels the mother has done this out of rejection and choosing to keep her little brother over her. However, the truth is that the slave mother is being raped by the white slaveowner and she knows that it is just a matter of time before he will rape Florens. The slave mother recognizes the goodness in Vaark and wants to spare her daughter. Unfortunately, Florens does not know this and keeps looking for love and acceptance to fill the void put there by the loss of her mother. Rejection is a terrible feeling and I feel that many adopted children can identify with Florens.
At the conclusion, one can go back and see where the name of the book comes from, A Mercy. When we think of mercy, we think of the mercy of God. However, this author makes us look at the mercy of man. One man's mercy spared so many from harm and heartache. He gave them a chance to live freely. Isn't that what mercy does. God gives us a chance to live freely. But often we fail to see that it also takes man to extend mercy in order to give hope to others. Could it be that God's mercy is extended through the mercy of men.
Her owner, Jacob Vaark also deals with the issue of man's worth to the world, whether it be reputation or wealth. The story continues to follow Florens as she works for the Vaark family, where she is treated well, except for the emotional struggle she forces upon herself.
On a quest to answer difficult questions about 17th century life, identity, and worth, Morrison's novel offers a unique writing style that gives readers first and second person perspectives on other characters in the story. Though this leads to a choppy reading experience, the analysis of the author's message about slavery and self-identity is more accessable. Rather than focus on the cruelty of slavery physically, Morrison offers a new perspective on the emotional and mental toll slavery can take on one's identity of self. Without effort to maintain the identity of self, a person can be lost in slavery and the vicious succession can continue into eternity. This practice can turn a slave of the body into a slave of the mind. I recommend this novel for those who are interested psychological readings of slavery and the emotional status of slave traders in 17th century America.