Tuesday, October 14, 2008
Lauren Durough is a college student longing to break free of family expectations when she stumbles into a project for eighty year old Abigail Boyles—transcribing the journals of Mercy Hayworth, a seventeenth-century victim of the Massachusetts witch trials. Almost immediately, Lauren finds herself drawn to this girl who lived and died four centuries ago. The strength of her affinity with Mercy forces Lauren to take a startling new look at her own life, including her relationships with the mysterious Abigail, her college roommate, and a young man named Raul. But on the way to discovering the candid truth, Lauren must earnestly ask if she is playing the role of helpless defendant or the misguided judge? Can she break free from her own perceptions and recognize who she really is?
In our high-pressure, success-oriented culture, readers will identify with Lauren’s struggle to forge her own identity separate from the plan her family designed for her. Offering intrigue, romance, and heartbreaking drama, this contemporary novel with a historical twist conveys the intense beauty that emerges when we see how our stories affect the lives of others.
Susan Meissner captivates from page one. She takes a handful of people in quiet crisis of the soul and pulls them together into a story, weaving threads of mercy, love, grace and tragedy from present day to 1692.
The point of view and focus changes from ancient, fragile diary pages to modern here and now issues like relationships keeps the horror of the happenings during the Salem Witch Trials from becoming too much and too hard.
I know a book or a movie is pure gold if I walk away but can't leave the characters or the situations. I know a novel has gotten under my skin if I feel a sadness that colors how I think or absorb things for a few days. The Shape of Mercy is a golden sliver.
Some will not like it. Readers who don't care for deep literary styles or a glimpse into sorrow or evil be warned - heavy subjects are covered -- life, death, regret, love. Others might not want to read it if they expect all Christian fiction to have a gospel message clearly presented, there is only a light touch within these pages. However, there is a depth that will cause a reader to look within and ponder life and death.
Susan Meissner has yet to disappoint me. I hope her work continues to receives wider notice. Talent with all aspects of writing put her solidly in the category of must read.