Friday, December 14, 2012

Book Review: A Mercy by Toni Morrison

On the jacket:



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.

Review:

I am a fan of Morrison's since college and was really eager to read A Mercy, to tell you the truth. 

The beginning might seem a little slow, specially if you are reading for the first time. I old American English, Morrison has spun the tale of brilliance. Slavery/racism is a sensitive topic, has been and shall be. To write about it, bravo!

We've all read about slavery, as depicted and reported by history books. Here is a tale in words of a young child. Talking more will just act as spoilers, if you are into serious reading, just pick a Morrison book and read!

Review: *****/5

[This review is for Random House India. The opinions are strictly my own and not been written under any obligation.]

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