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19 of 21 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Evocative, gripping, beautiful
Newly released, A Mercy takes place in the 1680's - the early days of the slave trade in the Americas.

Jacob is a trader who takes a small slave girl- Florens - in partial payment for a debt. The mother of the child begs him to take the girl, not herself. It is this act that has consequences for all the lives that are intertwined with that of Florens'. Florens...
Published on Nov. 21 2008 by Luanne Ollivier

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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Morrison Fan, Not Much Impressed
Reason for Reading: I am in the process of reading all the author's books. This is her latest as of July 2009.

Comments: The time is 1680, the place is colonial America. This is the story of four women: Rebekka, an English girl sent to America as a wife whose family paid a monetary dowry; Florens, a black slave child (later woman) who is traded in exchange for...
Published on July 26 2009 by Nicola Mansfield


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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Morrison Fan, Not Much Impressed, July 26 2009
By 
Nicola Mansfield (Ontario, Canada) - See all my reviews
(TOP 50 REVIEWER)    (HALL OF FAME)   
This review is from: A Mercy (Hardcover)
Reason for Reading: I am in the process of reading all the author's books. This is her latest as of July 2009.

Comments: The time is 1680, the place is colonial America. This is the story of four women: Rebekka, an English girl sent to America as a wife whose family paid a monetary dowry; Florens, a black slave child (later woman) who is traded in exchange for partial payment of a debt; Sorrow, a European (Irish I find myself thinking for some reason) foundling coming to womanhood who is given as a gift to protect her from the growing boys in her current household; finally Lina, another child (later) woman who remembers vividly some small parts of her Native American life before she is sold and paid for. All these women belong to a man who doesn't believe in slavery, who despises those who does. He is a fairly decent, kind man but ultimately wants to have the riches of those he despises. But most of all, as the jacket flap states: "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 ..."

The story is told in many voices: all the woman have their turn (some many times), the man behind the women and the farm hands. The story is told in a progressive forward movement but also slips into flashback scenes to give backgrounds to the characters. In such a short book, this becomes quite confusing at times. I spent a large majority of the time not knowing who was speaking until halfway through their narrative. Generally, I enjoy switching points of view and flashbacks but the book was just too short for me to get a grasp on anything really substantial. I must say for half the book I was under the impression Lina was a Native American and then I came to think she was African and I'm pretty sure she's Native, but I could be wrong... Needless to say, the book confounded me more than enlightened me in any way.

I couldn't connect with any of the characters, nor did I really find the story emotionally charged which is something I've come to expect with Toni Morrison, from her books I've read so far. There is also a heavy theme of religious (namely Protestant) intolerance running through the book. First from a Dutch settler (Calvinist) towards Catholics in general, then Anabaptists causing grief in those other settlers who don't understand their ways and finally the term used becomes "the Protestants" (though I still think we are talking Anabaptists) as the slave people talk of how the Protestant's religion says that certain people such as savages (ie. blacks/natives, etc.) are not equal in God's eyes to them. This theme is pretty heavy handed throughout and I didn't know what to make of it. Does Morrison try to say slavery began with Anabaptist intolerance? Protestant intolerance? Christian? Religion, in general? I don't know anything about Anabaptists but when you get to broad terms such as Protestant or religious intolerance for each one intolerant person there are many good-hearted embracing people and I just don't buy into the "religion is the root of all evil" camp.

A readable story but with each chapter change the figuring out of where you are and what's going on distracted me from enjoying the book as much as I could have otherwise. Fans, go ahead and read it, you may like it a lot more than I did. Never read Toni Morrison before? Don't start with this one.
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19 of 21 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Evocative, gripping, beautiful, Nov. 21 2008
By 
Luanne Ollivier - See all my reviews
(TOP 10 REVIEWER)    (#1 HALL OF FAME)    (REAL NAME)   
This review is from: A Mercy (Hardcover)
Newly released, A Mercy takes place in the 1680's - the early days of the slave trade in the Americas.

Jacob is a trader who takes a small slave girl- Florens - in partial payment for a debt. The mother of the child begs him to take the girl, not herself. It is this act that has consequences for all the lives that are intertwined with that of Florens'. Florens joins Jacob's wife Rebekka, Lina, a servant and Sorrow, an indentured young woman, at their hardscrabble farm. Scully and Willard are also hoping to buy their freedom. Florens yearns for the blacksmith, an African who has never been enslaved.

Life at this time in history is defined and described from the viewpoint of each of these characters. Each character is enslaved to something in this new world - an owner, religion, wealth, desire and memory. The most poignant voice is that of Floren's mother. The last chapter of the book belongs to her and it ends on a powerful note.

Toni Morrison has a gift with words. Although it is tempting to read straight through to the end, I always take the time to savour and enjoy the language she uses.

..."especially here where tobacco and slaves were married, each currency clutching it's partner's elbow".

Toni Morrison is an amazingly gifted writer, having won both a Nobel and Pulitzer Prize. If you haven't experienced her yet, I encourage you to pick up any of her books.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars, Nov. 8 2014
This review is from: A Mercy (Hardcover)
Great writing and story.
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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars not worth it, June 23 2009
This review is from: A Mercy (Hardcover)
I am having a hard time , even reading past the first few pages of this book . I cant figure out who is talking , what they are talking about , and to who,
The writing seems unessesarily complicated. PLUS the book cost $18

could have saved a few dollars on this one
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0 of 3 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars not impressed!, Oct. 12 2010
This review is from: A Mercy (Paperback)
I am reading a series of books for a university course and I was not impressed with the seller of this item! It came to me PAST the last expected shipping date so I was behind the class in reading, not in the greatest condition, and when I emailed about the status of this book, I received an email blaming the book being stuck at the boarder for it being late and I wasnt able to have tracking information. What would I like to have known before purchasing this book? The sellers reputation!
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A Mercy
A Mercy by Toni Morrison (Paperback - Aug. 11 2009)
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