A Mercy

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The two strike up a romantic relationship. Lina, who is herself traumatized by an abusive relationship in her past, warns Florens to be careful. When the Blacksmith finishes his work, he leaves the farm without saying goodbye to Florens, leaving her devastated. All the laborers leave, fearing contagion, and not even Willy and Scully are allowed near. The next day, she is bedridden with the disease.

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Rebekka, remembering how the Blacksmith saved Sorrow when she became sick, sends Florens to go find him and bring him back with her. Lina stays behind to care for Rebekka while Florens sets out on her journey.

After a wagon ride and a terrifying night in the woods, Florens comes to a village and seeks shelter in the cottage of a woman named Widow Ealing and her daughter Jane. The other villagers have accused Jane of being a demon. While there, the villagers see Florens and accuse her of being a devil because of her dark skin. She tells him about Rebekka, and the Blacksmith decides to set out at once. He tells Florens she must stay at his cabin so that she can take care of a little boy, Malaik , that he has adopted.

The Blacksmith rides off to heal Rebekka. She remembers what she thinks was her mother choosing her baby brother over her, and feels the same thing will happen now with Malaik. When Malaik will not stop crying, Florens grabs him by the arm hard and accidently breaks it. Just then, the Blacksmith returns and sees that Florens has hurt the child. Furious, he hits Florens and casts her out. Florens hits the Blacksmith in the face with a pair of tongs, bloodying him, before running away. She makes her way back through the woods to the Vaark farm barefoot.

Florens returns to find that Rebekka is healed. The farm has grown wild during the time it was left unattended, so Rebekka hires Will and Scully for help. While Florens was away, Sorrow gave birth to her baby, and motherhood improves her mental health significantly. Rebekka becomes highly religious after her near death experience, and also becomes very mean. She is cruel to Lina, beats Sorrow, and intends to sell Florens.

Florens, too, is changed. She is much more moody since the Blacksmith left her, and often thinks of how as far as she knows her mother abandoned her. As it turned out the sachem had been dead wrong. The Europes neither fled nor died out. They would forever fence land, ship whole trees to faraway countries, take any women for quick pleasure, ruin soil, befoul sacred places and worship a dull, unimaginative god.

She cawed with birds, chatted with plants, spoke to squirrels, sang to the cow and opened her mouth to rain. The shame of having survived the destruction of her families shrank with her vow never to betray or abandon anyone she cherished. Sorrow is a strange bird with few skills to survive and an imaginary twin to ease her solitude. Having never known love, she is totally bowled over and obsessed with it when it happens to her, first with a free black man who periodically does blacksmith work for the farm and later with her child. The blacksmith betrays her by not committing to the relationship.

The rapture of her love for him is portrayed so compellingly: The shine of water runs down your spine and I have shock at myself for wanting to lick there. I run away into the cowshed to stop this thing from happening inside me. There is only you. Nothing outside of you. My eyes not my stomach are the hungry pats of me. There will never be enough time to look how you move.

Your arm goes up to strike iron. You drop to one knee. You stop to pour water first on the iron then down your throat. Before you know I am the world I am already kill by you. My mouth is open, my legs go softly and the heart is stretching to break.

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Florens comes off as the smartest of the women. She is the only one who can read, and she shows great courage and problem solving skills when tasked to make a long journey alone to get help from a herbalist when Jacob falls ill. Her mother made a sacrifice to give her up to Jacob instead of herself as a means of saving her from sexual assault by the master who owes Jacob money. Yet Florens is blind to that mercy and forever feels thrown away. The audiobook came with a helpful interview with Morrison added at the end. She eloquently explains some of her intentions in portraying the uncertain future for people living in the new world, the inventive ad-hoc nature of its social forms, and the prevalence of slavery independent of racism.

I see this is the seventh book by Morrison I have had the pleasure of experiencing. I see also that I gave each one 4 stars. Enough of such niggling. Who am I to deny this one five stars when it resonates so long after reading it. View all 7 comments. Aug 24, D. Pow rated it really liked it. It is one of the few books I can remember that sent me back to read key passages and even whole chapters after I finished it to get clues to its maddeningly vague denouement and sample the blood-soaked, well-seeded soil of its prose one more time.

It is a pagan place, not a Christian one, full of dark ritual, demons and a sprit-infused geography that telegraphs well impending tragedy for those with eyes to see. As in all Morrison books, race is central, skin colors of all grades on display throughout in a mad dance of slavery, ownership, parent and discarded child, victim and potential killer. But Morrison is too canny and wise to write a book that is a straight up indictment of the huge festering wound that is the American subjugation of African and Native American people. Everyone wrestles with their own slavery in this book, whether it is to ideas of mercantile ascension and social respect, loveless marriage, or thralldom to a land that will break bones before it yields anything that offers anything remotely resembling sustenance.

Morrison plants a few seeds of traditional romance within the narrative that point to the possibility of one character, the slave girl, Florens, escaping to a better fate via a freed African blacksmith and their intense physical relationship that develops. But once again Morrison is too true to her own darker gifts for any fairy tale ending where the princess is rescued and taken to some magic kingdom free of bitterness and strife. Instead, as in real life, a lesser fate and shadow identity is assumed where one that was hopefully headed for an upward trajectory is cast down utterly into blank confusion through her own befuddled mind and over-attachment to the lures of the body and a fantasy future that was always unlikely at best.

View all 30 comments. View all 20 comments. Jul 21, Elizabeth rated it liked it. By the end of this novel I felt as though I had finished reading a collection of character sketches that could be used to form a much larger and perhaps more coherent text. Each chapter skips around from one character to another, and from first to third person narration, which in itself is not a problem, and if done well can make an interesting and eclectic whole.

In this case, the text simply became frustrating; a puzzle that is frankly not interesting enough to put together. The characters in By the end of this novel I felt as though I had finished reading a collection of character sketches that could be used to form a much larger and perhaps more coherent text. The characters in this novel are diverse and could be very interesting if they were given the pages count they need.

The characters consist of a Native American slave woman, a black slave woman who has a reputation of "madness," a young black slave girl whose sale to another man was urged on by her own mother, a pair of white atheists who seem nice at first, but are really like all other whites, bad , a freed young blacksmith, and two indentured men.

We learn bits and pieces about each of these people, but never enough to truly care about them. The small histories we are given whet the appetite for more details that are never delivered. After reading Beloved one gets spoiled by the closeness that we can have with characters like Sethe, Denver, and Paul D, but in A Mercy it felt that the characters were being held away from the reader, forcing them to be impersonal.

Even in Paradise a novel filled with dozens of characters, the individuals at least seemed more alive than those in Morrison's new text. Now for the Narrative. I simply do not know what to say as there is so little there. What is the point of the novel? Where do the characters end up? There is little development, and the heart of the story spans perhaps a few days with backlogs giving us a little information about how these people ended up where they are, but the sparse journey and the little history given do not add up to an interesting whole.

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Sorrow gives birth to a baby-girl and finds wholeness within that event, but we don't know her. The white woman Rebekka turns violent and cruel, but her betrayal means little because we hardly get to know the good in her which her cruelty is supposed to contrast. And yes, the young woman who was urged to be sold off by her mother is able to pick her sexual partner as her mother intended, but that freedom is so curtailed by the failure of her relationship and the reader's lack of personal connection with her that it barely matters.

I wanted to love and adore this book as I do Beloved, but there is so little that the two books have in common. The utter intimacy that Morrison had to have developed with her characters in Beloved is not even attempted in this book. It is that distance that tears at my heart and makes me wonder if she will explore, and allow us readers to experience, that gut-wrenching sadness, anger, betrayal, again.

View all 6 comments. Jun 23, Kelly rated it it was ok Shelves: Maybe it's the bitter taste Beloved left me with; Maybe it's that she comes off as the poor woman's Maya Angelou; Maybe it's just that no matter how much I want to like her writing, I just can't. The first four chapters were confusing as hell and the remaining ones were disorienting.

The POV's from chapter to chapter were so intertwined, I could barely remember who was talking and found myself constantly going back to the beginning of that particular chapter to double check. Not only that, but t Maybe it's the bitter taste Beloved left me with; Maybe it's that she comes off as the poor woman's Maya Angelou; Maybe it's just that no matter how much I want to like her writing, I just can't.

Not only that, but the timeline from chapter to chapter was muddled. Add to that nausea the style of writing. While the narrative was meant to be abrupt and disjointed, it actually came across as a sophomoric attempt to show a world that the writer herself stereotyped.

With all that said, I did enjoy the ending of the book; the bird's eye view into the lives of the cast as it were to unfold and the purity that it conveyed. Though it felt like it took blood, sweat, and tears just to get there. View all 5 comments. Dec 31, Jen rated it liked it Shelves: From my youngest sister, who reads often and prefers "Austenish" lit: It took forever to know who was speaking and in the end nothing happened.

This wasn't what I thought it would be based on the synopsis on Amazon I thought it would be about a slave girl and her life. I loved the ending- the last third of the book was great and really pulled together like strings twisting around and then forming a tight braid. Many similarities to "Bluest Eye". I have a theory snowballing around in my head about what the turning point of the story concerning the slave girl Florens.

If you still have the book, look at the part where Florens escapes the cabin with the white girl's help- I think there is a line or two where Florens asks her if she is taken with the devil and the girl smiles and says yes and then Florens feels a spirit or wind or something follow or watch her through the fence.

That part is where I thought she fully embraced her darker self, and then from there on she was a primal being, intent on embracing a heady darkness she couldn't control. The indulgence of herself in herself- the selfishness of it all the blacksmith addresses this was breathtaking and sudden. My younger sister thought the boy was just hurt.

I thought she might've killed him, and my middle sister wasn't sure- she thought maybe both boy and man were killed or none were killed. What do you think? View all 22 comments. Nov 12, Teresa rated it it was amazing. Yes, I am a Toni Morrison fan and believe she is incapable of writing a bad book, but that doesn't mean I wasn't ready to be critical of her new book if necessary. The beginning may seem slow that never bothers me as we are thrust into a world that is faraway in time, but real.

Historical details never bog down; they are worn lightly, as a reviewer put it. Reviewers have compared one character here to Sethe from Beloved ; and though I see the parallel, this is a very differen Yes, I am a Toni Morrison fan and believe she is incapable of writing a bad book, but that doesn't mean I wasn't ready to be critical of her new book if necessary. Reviewers have compared one character here to Sethe from Beloved ; and though I see the parallel, this is a very different book.

Morrison never repeats a book: Here the setting is the U. Life is difficult, dangerous and arduous for all, yet there are some who manage to make connections to others despite everything. A slim book that contains multitudes. The sign of a great book for me: I paged back to the beginning as I neared the end as I approached the ending, I couldn't put it down and when I was finished, I could've read it all over again. I will one day. Jun 29, Kristen rated it it was amazing Shelves: Nov 13, Yetunde rated it it was ok.

This was definitely not one of my favorites. I am usually a die-hard Morrison fan, but this one just wasn't up to par with her earlier works.


How Sorrow became Complete

Many people have compared this to Beloved, but I find that comparison unjust. This book, while it had its moments of brilliance, was inundated with dense, incomprehensible prose. At times, I was unable to decipher who was speaking and when. It just wasn't a good read for me. View all 4 comments. Nov 29, Sandi rated it liked it Shelves: I just want you to know that I think you are a wonderful writer.

I remember picking up a copy of The Bluest Eye back in because I was taking a stupid college course and we were required to read a book by a female author written after WWII. I chose your book because it was really short and I didn't want to put a lot of time into that assignment. I remember crying while reading it and wanting to take that little girl out of her miserable life and make her feel better about h Dear Ms.

I remember crying while reading it and wanting to take that little girl out of her miserable life and make her feel better about herself. When my son was a baby, I read Beloved and was equally horrified and sympathetic to Sethe's predicament. I loved the depth of emotion that book brought out in me. Later, I read Jazz and was so impressed by the way the language echoed the theme.

The rhythm of your words was so, well, jazzy. I really, really wanted to give A Mercy more than three stars.

Shawn Mendes - Mercy (Acoustic)

I wanted to be blown away. I was looking forward to really feeling something, even if it didn't feel good. Unfortunately, the only things I felt were confusion and disappointment. It took me half of each chapter to figure out which character the chapter was about and what time frame the chapter was set in. It felt flat and pointless. I never got to really know any of the characters. Honestly, pages is not enough to cover the number of characters and ideas this story is trying to convey. It's more like a draft than a finished novel. It's an epic story that's been condensed and abridged.

I wanted to know more about these characters and the 17th century American colonies in which they lived. I liked that nobody was either a hero or a villain, but human. I just would have liked to know these humans better. Frankly, the reason I do give your book as many as three stars is that the prose is absolutely beautiful, as usual for you. The imagery and the rhythm is both poetic and musical. I just wish there had been more of it. Feb 18, Edward Waverley rated it did not like it.

View all 14 comments. Feb 19, Anabel inthebookcorner rated it really liked it. Is that a tremble on your mouth, in your eye? A neo-slave narrative, that's less about slavery itself and more about the real brutality during this time: Morrison is always fascinating for me to read; I'm paying attention to the structure, the themes, the tone, and every nuance she wrings out of her perfect sentences.

This is one of her easier novels, one featuring a swirling ensemble of voices, all gazing at the harsh reality of a group of women living in 17th century America. The whole novel is one fluid tapestry, quite intimate, with a subtlety that is rare for Morrison but which works so well here.

She questions how, in a world I needed this. She questions how, in a world where one is inevitably owned in some way, do you form a self that is free of dominion? Through the novel's incredibly strong female characters, she answers this question in several intense and surprising ways.

I was especially moved by the final chapter, which I think really explains the entire point of the novel. I really hate to only give 2 stars to a Toni Morrison book. My main problem with A Mercy the audio version was with the narration. Morrison chose to read the book herself, and I'm not sure how well it worked. She reads so slowly and pauses in the middle of sentences so often, it started to feel like an attempted poetry reading. For example, "Far away to the right pause , beyond the iron fencings pause , enclosing the property pause and softened by mist pause , he saw Rosa Cortez, quiet p I really hate to only give 2 stars to a Toni Morrison book.

For example, "Far away to the right pause , beyond the iron fencings pause , enclosing the property pause and softened by mist pause , he saw Rosa Cortez, quiet pause , empty pause. In the fields, he reckoned pause , trying to limit pause the damage pause sopping weather pause had wrought pause on the crop. Normally, I love to hear Morrison speak. I find her to be incredibly wise and articulate, and she is undoubtedly a gifted writer. I just found the pauses so distracting that it was hard to stay focused on the story itself. The book is interesting conceptually at least: In the end, though, I couldn't get fully absorbed for the reason stated.

This is another of those books I may have to revisit in the future when I can read the print version. Jul 06, Elyse rated it it was amazing. I was out of the country for two years during the 70's --I don't remember reading much of anything during that time , when Toni Morrison had first established herself as a writer 'to read' -- A woman making a difference in the world!

Her writing is deeply felt -- reminding me --I've 2 other books in my house still 'to-read'. Her books about slavery reach deep below the surface but in all her books she tells a powerful story -- be it about a child, or a mother, or other voices in the community --Toni Morrison, [awarded Nobel Prize in Literature], --is a humanitarian who inspires us all to look at ourselves --and speak out when its not easy to do so -- Being the stand for justice!

Nov 02, Ksab rated it liked it. Although the subject of "A Mercy" ie the interdependent lives of African slaves,Native Americans,indentured servants,free blacks,and whites in Catholic early Md. It seemed as if Ms. Morrison has had an illustrious career-maybe next time???

Apr 15, Sentimental Surrealist rated it really liked it Recommended to Sentimental Surrealist by: So this isn't as overtly horrifying as other Morrison novels. With a theme of slavery, one rape implied and a second alluded to, and a late-game breakdown, this statement has more to do with how immensely fucked-up your average Toni Morrison novel is than anything else, but when you consider that other Morrison novels have featured parasitic ghosts, drowned children, murder cults and massacres, the bar for violence and mind games is high in Morrison and A Mercy might not seem to meet the bar.

Th So this isn't as overtly horrifying as other Morrison novels.

A Mercy by Toni Morrison

There's even a happy marriage! Up until the husband dies, anyway. Mostly, A Mercy seems like a book about people escaping the sort of horror Morrison puts her characters through. But see, this one creeps up on you. It's all sneaky and insidious. You finish it and you realize what it's suggesting, you trace the fullness of the story in all its gruesome implications, the cycle of abandonment and the well-intentioned deed gone wrong that kicks things off, and then it gets under your skin and the tragedy of it reveals itself to be enormous and you realize that escaping a life of miserable servitude is only the first step.

It's all in a well-realized seventeenth-century America setting, with a string of rootless characters who all feel the scars and do what they can to survive. Like Morrison's been doing for a while now, the central story is pretty straightforward and is more the glue that holds everyone else's tales together, which creates this big spinning mega-story, this whole history of a whole family and their servants, that against all odds wraps up in under two hundred pages without feeling compromised.

Dec 15, Jcurmudge rated it it was ok Shelves: I'd never read Morrison before. This was interesting, but the style is a bit confusing. I'm not sure I was able to keep track of all of the characters. View all 3 comments. Sep 15, kisha rated it really liked it Recommends it for: I read this with my book club African American Historical Fiction. This is a very hard one to rate and review. I found this story to be dry, mundane, unfascinating, and probably lacking or so pages. This story represented a time rarely discussed, the s. Knowing that alone bored me before even opening the first page.

I was extremely surprised to find that the characters in this story were extremely underdeveloped. Honestly I didn't care for or about any of them. But it's funny what happens after your are finished with a book, meditate on it, discuss it and read interviews and other reviews on it. You sometimes get a whole new perspective I realized that the characters were not the main characters of this book. The themes of this story as well as the time and place is the fluid that kept the story moving. Therefore the themes became the characters. Morrison is a brilliant woman and for me to think that this story was as flat as I assumed was foolish of me.

For me, this story represented self-worth, abandonment, perspective, dependency, and insight. It represented how sometimes things are not what they appear to be. Also, like Beloved, it represents how a person can form their own self-inflicted enslavement by not letting go of the past, giving another dominion over them. I don't know if I really have words that can really express what this books means without giving any spoilers as I try not to do in my reviews.