Customer Reviews for

A Mercy

Average Rating 3.5
( 101 )
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(35)

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(11)

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Most Helpful Favorable Review

32 out of 34 people found this review helpful.

A gripping novel written in elegant prose

In this short, lyrical and gripping novel, Tony Morrison has undertaken, once again, to explore her favorite subject: the evils of slavery. Written in prose so lovely and mesmerizing that it reminded me of her ¿Sula¿, also a short novel published thirty-five years ago, ...
In this short, lyrical and gripping novel, Tony Morrison has undertaken, once again, to explore her favorite subject: the evils of slavery. Written in prose so lovely and mesmerizing that it reminded me of her ¿Sula¿, also a short novel published thirty-five years ago, ¿A Mercy¿ was a great joy to read.

Jacob Vaark, a Dutch-born farmer and trader, and Rebecca, his English wife own a tobacco plantation. Even though Jacob owned a few slaves, he did so only as a necessity to run his homestead. Jacob is sympathetic towards orphans and waifs because he himself was parentless at a young age, and had to fend for himself on the streets running small errands.

At the heart of the novel is an act of mercy. When Jacob Vaark travels to Maryland to collect debt from a tobacco plantaion owner named Senor D¿Ortega, he finds out that Senor is broke and has no money to pay off the debt. Senor offers Jacob a thin black girl named Florens, a daughter of one of his slaves, as a partial payment of the debt. Florens is smart, and she can read and write also. Florens¿ mother senses that Jacob is more kind-hearted than her master, and so pleads with Senor to give Florens to Jacob. Her hope is that Florens would have a better life in Jacob¿s estate. Florens¿s mother considers this an act of mercy, but the irony is that Florence considers it abandonment.

Several sympathetic characters make the novel interesting and hold a reader¿s attention. Lina (Messalina), a native American, was sold to Jacob by the Presbytarians who had rescued and saved her. Sorrow, a sea captain¿s daughter, survives a ship wreck, but ends up in Jacob¿s plantation as a slave. Willard and Scully are indentured servants who are sent to work at Jacob¿s plantation by their contract holders. A young black man, a blacksmith, arrives to make an iron gate for Jacob¿s new house. He is not a slave, but a free man. This man is also knowledgeable about medicinal herbs, and Florens falls in love with him.

In this novel, Toni Morrison¿s prose shines: ¿A frightened, long-necked child who did not speak for weeks but when she did, her light, singsong voice was lovely to hear. Some how, some way, the child assuaged the tiny yet eternal yearning for the home Lina once knew, where everyone had anything, and no one had everything.¿
Reading this novel was an intense, deeply moving, and satisfying experience. Even though the novel is short, it is bright, deep and weighty.

posted by Yesh_Prabhu_Writer on November 16, 2008

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Most Helpful Critical Review

2 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

Could Have Been Better!!

I picked up this book because I found the basic idea to be interesting--something I hadn't really thought about before. When I read the book I was deeply disappointed. Did Ms Morrison have to rush to publish and not finish her complete thoughts on the subject??? I fo...
I picked up this book because I found the basic idea to be interesting--something I hadn't really thought about before. When I read the book I was deeply disappointed. Did Ms Morrison have to rush to publish and not finish her complete thoughts on the subject??? I found what she did write to be confusing and underdeveloped. I usually keep books that I have read, and pass them along to people in my life that I think would take something from them. I gave this book to my daughter to take to her book seller ASAP!!!

posted by 911483 on January 29, 2009

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 29, 2009

    Could Have Been Better!!

    I picked up this book because I found the basic idea to be interesting--something I hadn't really thought about before. When I read the book I was deeply disappointed. Did Ms Morrison have to rush to publish and not finish her complete thoughts on the subject??? I found what she did write to be confusing and underdeveloped. I usually keep books that I have read, and pass them along to people in my life that I think would take something from them. I gave this book to my daughter to take to her book seller ASAP!!!

    2 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted August 11, 2009

    Indecipherable and disappointing

    Who's on first? "Beloved" was by far worth the work, "Paradise" was difficult, even on a second read (still don't know which character is "the white girl" who was shot first in the first sentence), and maybe I'm just getting too old for this fine but increasingly elusive author.

    1 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted February 16, 2009

    A Mercy

    I found this book to be boring and hard to understand, despite being quite intellegent.

    1 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 12, 2009

    Not a favorite!

    Writing style made story line difficult to follow. Struggled to finish it.

    1 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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    Posted April 10, 2010

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    Posted February 6, 2010

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    Posted December 4, 2008

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    Posted March 9, 2011

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    Posted May 2, 2011

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    Posted November 29, 2008

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 20, 2008

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