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A Mercy Mass Market Paperback – 4 Jun 2009

3.3 out of 5 stars 22 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Mass Market Paperback: 176 pages
  • Publisher: Vintage (4 Jun. 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0099502542
  • ISBN-13: 978-0099502548
  • Product Dimensions: 12.8 x 1.1 x 19.7 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (22 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 161,311 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description

Review

"Toni Morrison makes me believe in God. She makes me believe in a divine being, because luck and genetics don’t seem to come close to explaining her" (Guardian)

"A beautiful and important book" (The Times)

"Powerful, elemental... The issues Morrison explores go to the root of what humanity is. They could not be more important" (Guardian)

"Left me trembling at the sheer brilliance of its storytelling and the unassailable dignity of its purpose" (Evening Standard)

"So enthralling that you'll want to read it more than once" (Sunday Times)

Review

`Unsettling, exquisitely written, and deeply moving, it's an amazing piece of work' --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
(4.5 stars) Continuing themes that she has been developing since the start of her career, Nobel Prize-winning author Toni Morrison creates an intense and involving philosophical, Biblical, and feminist novel set in the Atlantic colonies between 1682 and 1690. Her impressionistic story traces slavery from its early roots, using unique voices--African, Native American, and white--while moving back and forth in time. The primary speaker is Florens, a 16-year-old African slave, who tells the reader at the outset that this is a confession, "full of curiosities," and that she has committed a bloody, once-in-a-lifetime crime. In a flashback to 1682, we learn that when Florens was only eight years old, her mother suggested to the Maryland planter who owned the family, that Florens be given to New York farmer Jacob Vaark to settle a debt. Florens never understands why she was abandoned by her mother.

Florens lives and works for the next eight years on Vaark's rural New York farm. Lina, a Native American, who works with her, tells in a parallel narrative how she became one of a handful of survivors of a plague that killed her tribe. Vaark's wife Rebekkah describes leaving England for New York to be married to a man she has never seen. The deaths of their subsequent children are devastating, and Vaark is hoping that eight-year-old Florens will help alleviate Rebekkah's loneliness. Vaark, himself an orphan and poorhouse survivor, describes his journeys from New York to Maryland and Virginia, commenting on the role of religion in the culture of the different colonies, along with their attitudes toward slavery.

All these characters are bereft of their roots, struggling to survive in an alien environment filled with danger and disease.
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Format: Mass Market Paperback
This is not my favourite Toni Morrison book although I love her other works. It is beautifully, poetically written, and I was immediately drawn in and absorbed by the predicament of Jacob and the description of his home but I was confused by the constant shift in the narrative viewpoint between the four different women, two of whom appear to be no more than children even when pregnant. I was not always convinced that eleven or fourteen year old servant girls would think in such a sophisticated way.

This is a character-focused book which deals with feelings and fears and Morrison's themes of slavery and sexual exploitation. It is evocative and often touching. However I found myself going over many paragraphs more than once trying to understand which of the protagonists was telling her tale at any given point. Three stars because of this major flaw in the novel, but I would have given it 3.5 if I could because the writing is so assured and accomplished otherwise.
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Format: Mass Market Paperback
I found A Mercy a slightly confusing book. I read it as part of a book group and the funny thing about it is we all came out with the same questions and yet we all had different answers to them.

The book is written from the perspectives of most of the different characters. This takes a while to get used to as they all have different ways of talking - different dialects. The book also throws you in at the deep end putting it's most difficult to comprehend voice first talking about things you will only understand at the end. So don't give up at the first chapter.

The book is quite female focussed, it looks at the status of women as wives and servants in newly colonised America. It covers a multitude of themes including female identity, slavery, racism and religion. Sometimes it felt like the author could have been more focused on a couple of these rather than try to cover all of them in such a small book.
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By Mrs. K. A. Wheatley TOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on 11 Nov. 2012
Format: Mass Market Paperback
Morrison always writes beautifully, the poetic fluency of her words is always a delight to read, and A Mercy is no different here than any of her other books. Unfortunately there is a lot less to like with regard to the rest of the book in comparison with all her other works. I found this one dense and puzzling. The constantly switching narrators were rather confusing as it took a while to figure out who was who, and as the book was only short there wasn't a lot of time to make these kind of decisions before you ran out of book. I felt like there was only really half a book here, like the story got rushed through with vital parts missing which could really have made this a great book instead of an alright novella. I got to the end thinking 'well, what was the point of that.' I give it three stars for the beauty of the writing, but not for anything else.
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Format: Paperback
A small book by a rare writer, and yet a mysterious book because it is difficult to know and understand what the author wants to say, what's more prove with her story. Toni Morrison takes us to the end of the seventeenth century and confronts us to three generations of black Africans facing slavery. The first generation is a woman brought from Africa and experiencing the passage to America and then being a slave. She is accepting her position, the fact that she is a woman and hence a reproducing machine for all men around. But Toni Morrison makes her a fetishist of shoes, just as if she kept some kind of sanity and identity in the fact that she takes shoes from Europeans and wears them, no matter whether they are too big or just inadequate. This mother will offer her own daughter to some white man who has come to make the woman's owner pay a debt he has contracted and does not want to pay, and her offer is determined because her owner does not want her to go and she does not want to move to a new situation. Stability seems to be a desire to be satisfied at any price, and her own daughter does not seem to be important for her because she did not want her in the first place. It was more or less imposed onto her. That second generation is dissatisfied in the same way, submissive but with a deep and high level of anger and maybe hatred. And she turns from pure submission to rebellion because the man she gave herself to, a black smithy, turns violent when she by accident mistreat the young boy he has adopted. It is irrational and yet perfectly understandable. The girl wants some affective stability, especially from a black man, black like her, and she does not realize that she had been violent with the little boy out of some kind of jealousy.Read more ›
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