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A Mercy | [Toni Morrison]

A Mercy

Jacob is an Anglo-Dutch trader and adventurer, with a small holding in the harsh north. Despite his distaste for dealing in "flesh," he takes a small slave girl in part payment for a bad debt from a plantation owner in Catholic Maryland. This is Florens, "with the hands of a slave and the feet of a Portuguese lady." Florens looks for love, first from Lina, an older servant woman at her new master's house, but later from a handsome blacksmith, an African, never enslaved.
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Publisher's Summary

A powerful tragedy distilled into a jewel of a masterpiece by the Nobel Prize - winning author of Beloved and, almost like a prelude to that story, set two centuries earlier.

In the 1680s the slave trade was still in its infancy. In the Americas, virulent religious and class divisions, prejudice and oppression were rife, providing the fertile soil in which slavery and race hatred were planted and took root.

Jacob is an Anglo-Dutch trader and adventurer, with a small holding in the harsh north. Despite his distaste for dealing in "flesh," he takes a small slave girl in part payment for a bad debt from a plantation owner in Catholic Maryland. This is Florens, "with the hands of a slave and the feet of a Portuguese lady." Florens looks for love, first from Lina, an older servant woman at her new master's house, but later from a handsome blacksmith, an African, never enslaved.

There are other voices: Lina, whose tribe was decimated by smallpox; their mistress, Rebekka, herself a victim of religious intolerance back in England; Sorrow, a strange girl who's spent her early years at sea; and finally the devastating voice of Florens' mother. These are all men and women inventing themselves in the wilderness.

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, and of a daughter who may never exorcise that abandonment.

Acts of mercy may have unforeseen consequences.

©2008 Toni Morrison; (P)2008 Random House Audio

What Members Say

Average Customer Rating

3.6 (219 )
5 star
 (80)
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 (50)
3 star
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3.9 (63 )
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3.8 (63 )
5 star
 (27)
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 (12)
2 star
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1 star
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Performance
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  •  
    Roxanne Marrero, LA, USA 05-27-09
    Roxanne Marrero, LA, USA 05-27-09 Member Since 2003
    HELPFUL VOTES
    27
    ratings
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    171
    23
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    "Great story, but..."

    Author Toni Morrison has written a great book again. However, she is very difficult to listen to. Monotone voice, lacking in emotion. This book would have been much better served bay a narrator with acting experience. I am always wary of books read by the author, and this book certainly validated that wariness.

    2 of 3 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Hal Miami, FL, United States 12-31-08
    Hal Miami, FL, United States 12-31-08 Member Since 2005
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Can't understand Morrison"

    Toni Morrison is a great author, but a poor narrator. I could understand her when she was being a property owner negotiating with big slave owner. But when she was being the adolescent slave girl, the central figure, I couldn't understand most of what she was saying.

    Buy the book instead.

    5 of 8 people found this review helpful
  •  
    doreen 08-04-14
    doreen 08-04-14 Member Since 2012
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    1
    1
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    Performance
    Story
    "Only Morrison's hypnotic voice would do..."
    What made the experience of listening to A Mercy the most enjoyable?

    Morrison's command of voice, tone and timing is matched only by the compelling characters she so completely brings to life.


    What did you like best about this story?

    Genius to locate these characters in pre-America...imagining life before the colonies seems to give context to what came later...extraordinary.


    Which character – as performed by Toni Morrison – was your favorite?

    Sorrow!


    If you could rename A Mercy, what would you call it?

    Why rename it?


    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Sarah C Berkeley, CA USA 07-18-14
    Sarah C Berkeley, CA USA 07-18-14 Member Since 2011
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    37
    5
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Still trying to make it through"
    Would you try another book from Toni Morrison and/or Toni Morrison?

    Not an audiobook


    What didn’t you like about Toni Morrison’s performance?

    I found the reading to be very difficult to get into, Toni Morrison's voice is very soothing and the prose is lovely, but I kept needing to back track to try and figure out what was actually said.


    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    C. Gaylord Arbor Vitae, WI USA 04-27-14
    C. Gaylord Arbor Vitae, WI USA 04-27-14 Member Since 2013
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    35
    4
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "I had to buy the book!"

    I hadn't finished listening to Ms Morrison narrate her book when I ordered it from Amazon.com. When the book arrived, I read along as Ms Morrison narrated it. Her reading cadence exposes subtleties that I would have missed had I read the story to myself. A Mercy sheds light on our dark history. It also leaves me puzzled about some things. A tremendous amount of research went into writing A Mercy. It is not a off-the-top-of-one's-head novel. I will do some research myself and then read the book again. Oh, and not all indentured people were black. NOTE: A very informative interview follows the narration of this book.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Sarah jacksonville, FL, United States 02-04-14
    Sarah jacksonville, FL, United States 02-04-14
    HELPFUL VOTES
    1
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    "Absolutely LOVED this!!"
    Would you listen to A Mercy again? Why?

    I will definitely listen to this again. I loved everything about it...and hated when it was done.


    What did you like best about this story?

    I felt connected and invested emotionally in the characters and their lives. I could "see" these people as I listened.


    What about Toni Morrison’s performance did you like?

    Her voice is captivating...I suppose her being the author allowed for the telling of the story the way she intended as opposed to how another narrator would have interpreted it. The emotion and passion of what she wanted to portray were felt.


    Was this a book you wanted to listen to all in one sitting?

    I actually did complete all of the book minus about 45 mins in one sitting. It was truly that good!


    Any additional comments?

    I love Toni Morrison's work. This was the first time I've listened to a book and now I cannot wait to listen to her "Beloved" even though I've read it twice already!

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Annetta TUCSON, AZ, United States 10-31-12
    Annetta TUCSON, AZ, United States 10-31-12
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    1
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    Performance
    Story
    "Completely Immersed!!!"
    What made the experience of listening to A Mercy the most enjoyable?

    Toni Morrison's voice was incredible.


    What was one of the most memorable moments of A Mercy?

    Florence realizing the person she loved didn't love her back.


    Which character – as performed by Toni Morrison – was your favorite?

    Sorrow


    Any additional comments?

    You truly feel transported to another era

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    kd TX, USA 08-26-12
    kd TX, USA 08-26-12 Member Since 2012

    kd

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Amazing story"

    Historically accurate, engrossing tale of North American immigrants before the revolutionary war. The interview with Toni Morrison at the end was especially good.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Elizabeth St. Paul, MN, USA 06-28-10
    Elizabeth St. Paul, MN, USA 06-28-10
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    5
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    Overall
    "Wonderful book"

    This was my first audiobook, so it was hard to get used to at first, but it was a wonderful experience. Loved it.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    John Tifton, GA, United States 02-09-09
    John Tifton, GA, United States 02-09-09
    HELPFUL VOTES
    28
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    50
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    "Dark listen, but good"

    I like Toni Morrison, so I'm not bothered by the dark tone her books take, or the inferences. I listened to this particular book in one sitting, and it made me want to go back and listen to it again, just to make sure I got it right. Heart-wrenching. Her characters are very human, very flawed, and they touch the dark places in all of us.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
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