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Mercy [Alissa York]

Mercy [Alissa York]

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Award-winning author Alissa York’s first novel is a haunting and masterful exploration of how passions of the spirit and the flesh can overwhelm us, and even come to inhabit the ground beneath our feet. Divided into two parts, Mercy pairs a single year in the past with a single night in the present, as they unfold in the town of Mercy, Manitoba, and in the neighbouring black spruce bog.

In 1948, a dedicated priest named August Day arrives in Mercy to take over from Father Rock, who has passed away. The first service he is to perform in his new church is the marriage of Thomas Rose, the town butcher, to Mathilda Nickels, the orphaned niece of the church housekeeper.

Thomas Rose is a good man who waited years to express his love for Mathilda. And when Mathilda accepted his proposal, he was sure that their life together would bring them both joy, though in truth he knew little about his betrothed. Mathilda has not explored the world beyond the realm of her religious devotion, and approaches her wedding day with a mix of fear and dread. But when her eyes meet those of Father Day at the ceremony, Thomas seems to dissolve beside her and she feels physical passion for the first time in her life. As of that moment, August and Mathilda will only have eyes, and hearts, for each other.

Half a century later, another sort of preacher comes to Mercy—a womanizing widower who wants to develop the black spruce bog on the edge of town and build a religious camp. Reverend Carl Mann is fairly confident of success but worries about the well-publicized protests of a woman known as Bog Mary, who has lived her entire life in the heart of the bog. He heads off to confront her and ends up lost and hurt, but Mary uses her natural remedies and knowledge to heal not only his wounds but his broken spirit.

A dark yet compassionate novel, 
Mercy rivals the fiction debuts of Anne Michaels, Ann-Marie MacDonald and Gail Anderson-Dargatz. Alissa York brings to life a tale of misguided love and damaged souls with language of incredible clarity and intensity.

  • Publisher ‏ : ‎ Vintage Canada (Dec 2 2003)
  • Paperback ‏ : ‎ 344 pages
  • ISBN-13 ‏ : ‎ 978-0679312178