A Mercy

Front Cover
Random House Large Print, 2008 - Fiction - 273 pages
74 Reviews
A powerful tragedy distilled into a jewel of a masterpiece by the Nobel Prize–winning author of Beloved and, almost like a prelude to that story, set two centuries earlier.

In the 1680s the slave trade was still in its infancy. In the Americas, virulent religious and class divisions, prejudice and oppression were rife, providing the fertile soil in which slavery and race hatred were planted and took root.

Jacob is an Anglo-Dutch trader and adventurer, with a small holding in the harsh north. Despite his distaste for dealing in “flesh,” he takes a small slave girl in part payment for a bad debt from a plantation owner in Catholic Maryland. This is Florens, “with the hands of a slave and the feet of a Portuguese lady.” Florens looks for love, first from Lina, an older servant woman at her new master’s house, but later from a handsome blacksmith, an African, never enslaved.

There are other voices: Lina, whose tribe was decimated by smallpox; their mistress, Rebekka, herself a victim of religious intolerance back in Engl∧ Sorrow, a strange girl who’s spent her early years at sea; and finally the devastating voice of Florens’ mother. These are all men and women inventing themselves in the wilderness.

A Mercy reveals what lies beneath the surface of slavery. But at its heart it is the ambivalent, disturbing story of a mother who casts off her daughter in order to save her, and of a daughter who may never exorcise that abandonment.

Acts of mercy may have unforeseen consequences.


From the Hardcover edition.
 

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User Review  - MaureenCean - LibraryThing

Really a 2.5 or a 2.75. My first Morrison, but I have another one or two on my shelves and will continue. I am not a big fan of stories that are tragic every way you look at them. The stream of ... Read full review

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User Review  - klburnside - LibraryThing

I love Toni Morrison's writing style. I agree with Ann, that it provided an interesting historical perspective of slavery and indentured servitude. I don't think I have ever read a book that dealt ... Read full review

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Selected pages

Contents

Section 1
3
Section 2
13
Section 3
58
Section 4
69
Section 5
110
Section 6
117
Section 7
166
Section 8
191
Section 9
222
Section 10
234
Section 11
257
Section 12
265
Copyright

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About the author (2008)

Toni Morrison is the Robert F. Goheen Professor of Humanities, Emerita, at Princeton University. She has received the National Book Critics Circle Award and the Pulitzer Prize. In 1993 she was awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature. She lives in Rockland County, New York, and Princeton, New Jersey.

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