Mercy House

Mercy House

by Alena Dillon

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“Never underestimate the power of a group of women. Fierce, thoughtful and dramatic—this is a story of true courage." —Susan Wiggs, New York Times bestselling author

She would stop at nothing to protect the women under her care.

Inside a century-old row house in Brooklyn, renegade Sister Evelyn and her fellow nuns preside over a safe haven for the abused and abandoned. Gruff and indomitable on the surface, warm and wry underneath, little daunts Evelyn, until she receives word that Mercy House will be investigated by Bishop Hawkins, a man with whom she shares a dark history. In order to protect everything they’ve built, the nuns must conceal many of their methods, which are forbidden by the Catholic Church.

Evelyn will go to great lengths to defend all that she loves. She confronts a gang member, defies the church, challenges her own beliefs, and faces her past. She is bolstered by the other nuns and the vibrant, diverse residents of the shelter—Lucia, Mei-Li, Desiree, Esther, and Katrina—whose differences are outweighed by what unites them: they’ve all been broken by men but are determined to rebuild.

Amidst her fight, Evelyn discovers the extraordinary power of mercy and the grace it grants, not just to those who receive it, but to those strong enough to bestow it.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780062914811
Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date: 02/11/2020
Format: NOOK Book
Pages: 384
Sales rank: 120
File size: 869 KB

About the Author

Alena Dillon's work has appeared in Slice Magazine, The Rumpus, and Seventh Wave, among others. She earned her MFA from Fairfield University. Mercy House is her debut novel. She lives on the north shore of Boston with her husband, son, and their black labrador, Penny.

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Mercy House: A Novel 4.3 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 12 reviews.
Anonymous 8 hours ago
SilversReviews 8 hours ago
Evelyn was never wanted. Her father even bargained with God to bring his son home from the war, and he would put Evelyn in a convent. Evelyn's brother did come home, and she did go to the convent. Her time in the convent wasn't pleasant. Evelyn saw and endured unpleasant things. After a few years, she and a few of her fellow nuns opened a shelter in Brooklyn that housed girls suffering from domestic abuse and abandonment. The red door with the angel knocker was a welcome refuge. This refuge is threatened when one of the bishops from Evelyn's past who holds a grudge against her arrives to see exactly what they do at the women's shelter and threatens to shut it down. We follow Evelyn as she worries about the fate of the house and about the girls inside....what if they say the wrong thing while Father Hawkins is interviewing them? How will she keep them safe and keep Mercy House open if he finds damning evidence whether real or made up? Evelyn was a very strong, feisty, but sad woman who would do or say anything to protect the girls she was helping. I really liked her. Sister Maria and Sister Josephine were very likeable. The girls at the home were rough but likeable. Bishop Hawkins was despicable. Be aware that there are some upsetting and coarse situations addressed in MERCY HOUSE, but it was an educational read and one that will be enjoyed by women's fiction fans. Historical fiction fans will also enjoy this book. Well written with authentic characters. 5/5 This book was given to me by the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.
brf1948 2 days ago
I received a free electronic ARC copy of this modern novel from Netgalley, Alena Dillon, and William Morrow Paperbacks. Thank you all for sharing your hard work with me. I have read this novel of my own volition, and this review reflects my honest opinion of this work. I am pleased to recommend Alena Dillon to friends and family. She writes a warm, positive tale peopled with complex but enjoyable protagonists and shines a light on empathy and sensitivity. Set in 2010, Mercy House follows three Catholic nuns who have made a place for themselves in the Bedford-Stuyvesant neighborhood of Brooklyn for 26 years, from Vatican I when they wore traditional black woolen 'nun' layers of uniform and were completely silenced in the workplace and lifestyle of women, through Vatican II when they wore an abbreviated veil and calf-length clothing and into the present day where they wear conservative street clothing - and are still stifled when policies and regulations and freedoms of women in general and Catholic women, in particular, are in question. We enter the world of not only these ladies of the church but those of their focus for Mercy House - women escaping from abusive relationships and domestic violence who need a safe haven, of which there have been hundreds over the 26 years of the presence of Mercy House at 284 Chauncey Street, Brooklyn. The Angel doorknocker is the only indication that good works take place in this five-bedroom, 100-year-old rowhouse. Of the Order of the Sisters of St. Joseph of Mercy, we have Sister Evelyn, 'Evie', now 69 and hobbling with widespread gouty arthritis. She achieved a Masters in Nursing and worked for many years for the church in that capacity. Evelyn was pledged at four years old to the sisterhood by her hooligan father. When her health began to slow her down, she was the driving force in opening and keeping the doors open at Mercy House. Sister Maria was responsible for most of the cooking, which included healthy snacks to be passed out around the neighborhood, and a daily ritual of Reiki on a pad atop the kitchen table for the Sisters and residents as well. Sister Maria joined the sisterhood after a childhood that included the repeated viewing of The Sound of Music and The Flying Nun, but she always had a smile and made the best of every day. Sister Josephine entered the Order in the years before Vatican II and found comfort in the rituals and pageantry of the Church and its devotion to knowledge. She was able to use the Sisterhood as a bridge to higher education, and in her lifetime she earned a doctorate in theology and two master's degrees, one in nursing and one in philosophy. These ladies offered compassion, health care, and a bolthole to women, usually young, who are in danger from their life partner. Occasionally hard-drawn religious 'laws' have to be softened or erased, and each person helped at Mercy House has a unique need for the type of help and understanding that will get their lives back on track. The Vatican didn't always see it, that way. And Bishop Robert Hawkins comes into the picture, wanting nothing so much as to stifle Sister Evelyn, for good. She has personal knowledge of his lechery back in the day and is not ashamed to expose him. He has threatened to expose Father John, the priest at the local church who is a childhood friend of Evelyns. John will be labeled a homosexual if Evelyn shares anything of Hawkins misdeeds of long ago. Will he be able to shut
AliciaSplendeur 4 days ago
In the Bedford-Stuyvesant neighborhood of Brooklyn stands a century-old row house presided over by renegade, silver-haired Sister Evelyn. Gruff and indomitable on the surface, warm and wry underneath, Evelyn and her fellow sisters makes Mercy House a safe haven for the abused and abandoned. Through a series of flashbacks, we learn of how Sister Evelyn become a nun, what lead her to open Mercy House and her secret efforts to help the women who land on her doorstep even if it is forbidden by the church. We also meet the current women residing in the home and the circumstances that lead them there. The villain is Bishop Hawk. He's there to investigate Mercy House and the nuns. He's looking for any reason to shut them down. The beginning of the book starts off with a new girl showing up in the middle of the night. As Sister Evelyn moves through the next day to figure out how serious the situation is with the newest arrival you get a first-hand look at how she gets information around the neighborhood. She's a staple of her community. She's a feminist looking out for other women even if it might not be approved by the church. That appealed to my Catholic raised rebellious nature. I also loved seeing the sisters as regular women who smoked, drank and practiced other methods of healing, like reiki. The women they helped were colorful and realistic. Their stories made me feel sad and angry for them. One assault, in particular, left me feeling nauseous. As I neared the end of the book I wasn't sure where it would end. But overall this was a very good read. #MercyHouse #NetGalley
LoriKB 4 days ago
As with all big corporations, it starts out with an idea that needs to be taken to the next level but those that believe in this passion. Unfortunately, somewhere along the way greed, power and ego rear its ugly head and man takes over. In view of the recent troubles within the Catholic Church, I found this book compelling, well researched and extremely sad. Years ago, boys and girls entered the convent before they could figure out who they were or to squelch who they were, or put in the church due to too family obligations. Mercy House is a safe house for battered and abandoned women, run by 3 nuns, headed by Sister Evelyn, a kick-ass renegade, who understands that the role is not back or white, but many shades of grey. I fell in love with these forward-thinking older women, so unlike the nuns I remember from my parochial school days. This debut novel is not for the faint-of-heart, or for those looking for a light read. It will evoke many emotions...anger, sadness, disgust, redemption. It held my attention from start to finish. Please read with an open mind! Born and raised Catholic, this story ripped my heart out. I am happy to say that I have not know anyone like the hierarchy in this book, but believe wholeheartedly these problems exist and are just now coming to light. I thought the Mother Superior was to point. I am a ambivalent about the ending, but you can decide for yourself. Thanks to Harper Collins Publishing, William Morrow Paperbacks, Alena Dillon and NetGalley for this ARC. Opinion is mine alone.
PhyllisJonesPisanelli 5 days ago
Awe inspiring. That is exactly what I think of Mercy House by Anna Dillon. I not only fell in love with the nuns in her book, I was in awe of their caring and understanding of the work they were doing to help other women who needed shelter and healing.  I was raised in the catholic church but left as an adult. I had an aunt that was sent to the convent by her father when she was 16 years old. She was older than Sister Evelyn but, also, experienced the transition from Vatican I to Vatican ll. She chose to leave during that transition. I learned a lot from this book about the suppression of the nuns by the men who run the Catholic church from the Pope down. It spoke of sexual abuse, rape and homosexuality within the church. We have all heard of the priests that were protected by the church.  This book made me sad, mad and happy. I cried and I laughed and even found myself praying for the church and its people. I don't think I have ever read a book that has hit me as hard in the heart as this book did. It is written with so much compassion and love. I can't say enough about Mercy House. Anna Dillon wrote a remarkable, historical debut novel.  I recieved a copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for Fair and honesty review.
Susanlibgirl 5 days ago
This was a great book! Sister Evelyn is a brave, amazing character! It is very well written with many interesting characters and great character development. A book about the plight of women, a great book club selection. Thank toy to NetGalley and the publisher for this book
marongm8 5 days ago
This book was received as an ARC from HarperCollins Publishers - William Morrow Paperbacks in exchange for an honest review. Opinions and thoughts expressed in this review are completely my own. I am all about women standing up for their rights even if it means going against the law of the church in doing what's right in their heart. Mercy House was such an awe-inspiring, jaw dropping novel filled with controversial topics turned interesting and exciting. I also love it when you learn new concepts and topics and the struggles Evelyn had to go through the and fight she took to defend her rights was motivational and inspiring to read with some meaningful life lessons to pass on and teach through and through. We will consider adding this title to our Fiction collection at our library. That is why we give this book 5 stars.
Anonymous 5 days ago
I did enjoy this book by Alena Dillon, but the topic in “Mercy House” was a little troublesome for me to read in the beginning. The author really used her words perfectly, though, to make you want to see what happens next. It is so heartbreaking to know that society “turns the other way” and allows men to be so controlling over women. The women in the story had to endure so much abuse it sometimes just had my emotions going unhinged from being sad to getting angry at “why” is this happening? The novel also details a lot of the Catholic religion controversies. Mercy House is a safe-haven for young women needing to escape from being victims of violence and emotional abuse. I loved the three nuns that took these young women in; each nun having their own unique personality. The young women are welcomed with open arms, and are loved and protected by the nuns as if they were their own. As Evelyn says, “...if a child was taken out to sea, would a mother not swim after her because she wasn't a lifeguard?” Evelyn is the main character that leads the operation of Mercy House, but has a dark past herself. She knows what these girls need to survive. Her character shows some unconventional ways of being a nun, though, which eases the reader's emotions; giving a little comic relief. Alena is an outstanding, powerful writer. I appreciate her courage in sharing this story for all to read. If you are a strong Catholic, this book may be difficult to read for some, though. I recommend this book for anyone wanting a story of what courageous, strong, and persistent women can do. Thank you, Alena and Goodreads for giving me the opportunity to read an ARC of this book. It is incredible that it is a debut book and I hope we see more of Alena's work!
GayleT00000 5 days ago
This book reads like a series of short stories about Sister Evelyn and the other nuns, and the inhabitants of Mercy House, a home for women who, for numerous reasons, have nowhere else to go, but it isn't a book of short stories. Rather, it is more of a diary of the events of the lives of the people who populate this book. Sister Evelyn has carried a burden with her for decades and it dictates that she take in young women who have nowhere to go, young women who have been sexually used and abused. And now, Mercy House is about to receive someone from Sister Evelyn's past who could take away everything that the nuns at Mercy House have worked so hard to accomplish. Sister Evelyn also carries a secret that we don't learn about until the end of the book. But "Mercy House" is not without humor, provided mainly by Sister Evelyn herself, who looks at life in and out of the convent with a rather jaundiced eye. She's not particularly impressed with the rules and regulations put upon her and her sister Sisters. She humorously bends and breaks rules with regularity. This is one of the better books I've read lately and I highly recommend it!
Kwpat 5 days ago
I was totally engrossed in the first fifty percent of Mercy House. I thought Sister Evelyn was a strong character. Dillon did a good job showing the changes for nuns in the Catholic Church from the 1960s to the 1990’s. The nuns of Mercy House were truly caring and believed in their mission to help women who were abused. I felt the second half went in too many directions and felt the ending was weak. Thank you NetGalley and William Morrow Paperbacks for an ARC in exchange for an honest review.
lauriesophee 5 days ago
Ever wonder what Nuns think or do? Are they human or above? A wonderful novel! Mercy House is a women's home of safety, love and trust in NYC. Sister Evelyn runs this home for women and does it with gusto! She is 69 and has built the wall to forget her own hurt through the years, but advocates for her residents with the heart of a lion. She is well aware of the embarrassment of the girls. There are many, who have knocked on the door here and have been cared for and assisted on the path to independence. When the Bishop makes a visit to inspect the records, he elects to close the doors of the dwelling and to excommunicate Sr. Evelyn for going against Catholic jurisdiction. Why? This is only the beginning! What will happen when the truth comes forth? I worked in a convent and the stories I have been told from years ago, truly are similar to this plot setting and these nuns. I loved Sr. Evelyn and I am quite sure you will too! excellent!