I’m sort of at a loss when it comes to writing about Toni Morrison’s books. There’s always that element of genius in her work — I would say she’s a very worthy Nobel laureate. Somehow, though, her books always make me very uncomfortable. I guess they’re meant to do that. I always seem to absorb the emotions of the characters — which normally is a good thing — but oh, the depths of the emotions the characters experience! I probably did like A Mercy better than others I’ve read so far, though perhaps Beloved will still be considered her masterpiece.
This story takes place in the 1680’s, in the wilds of a new America. Jacob is a man who disapproves of the slave trade yet makes concessions toward it. His wife Rebekka is a mail order bride from England, yet the two have a happy marriage. On their land they do have ‘help’ in the form of Lina, a Native-American, Sorrow, an orphan from the sea, and Florens, a slave girl given up by her mother whom Jacob takes as payment for a debt. Together they try to build a home for themselves, fighting against a harsh climate, disease, and inside and outside forces that seem bent on destruction.
With themes of racism, slavery, adventure, religion, and witchcraft, A Mercy is another brilliant work by a very brilliant author.
2008, 167 pages