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
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.
I am struggling with this book even now. It is very difficult to follow and separation between chapters is non existant. Disappointed but I will listen to it again after reading some of the other reviews.
She has such a soothing hypnotic voice, and she's not a bad writer either, (lol)
Sorry, I love Toni Morrison's writing, and she has a lovely rich voice, but her pauses are as regular as a slow ticking clock no matter how long the sentence or how varied its structure. I found myself predicting each pause, which made listening to the story less than optimum, tedious, in fact. I have the same opinion of the spoken version of Beloved, one of my favorite books. Please, Ms. Morrison, your novels deserve professional readers.
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