In A Mercy (Knopf, $23.95), Nobel laureate Toni Morrison returns to the subject of slavery. It is a theme she wrote about beautifully in her Pulitzer-Prize winning novel Beloved. This time, Morrison looks farther back, to the late 1600s, nearly a century before the colonies become the United States. Jacob Vaark settles a debt with a farmer in Maryland; his payment is a young girl named Florens. Florens takes up residence with the others in Vaark’s home. In this house of misfits, she grows to womanhood, believing the story that her mother had to give her up due to a debt. In the end, though, her situation proves more complex than she could have imagined. A Mercy is a meditation on slavery and on family—and it’s a wonderfully powerful novel.
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