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A Mercy - Toni Morrison

A Mercy - Toni Morrison

Title: A Mercy

Author:  Toni Morrison

ISBN:  9780701180454

Weight:  681g

Prepublication dated signed UK first edition, first printing



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A Mercy by Toni Morrison

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.

Peer & Press Reviews

A Mercy is a furious novel, a volley of anger, contempt and sorrow.


Morrison’s prose is confident and secure, her language masterful…  This is another penetrating and profoundly disquieting view of America’s past.

Historical Novels Review

A challenging, disorientating way of reading and as soon as you finish A Mercy, the novel demands that you start it again.

Scotland on Sunday

Bibliographic Info

Attribute Details
Title A Mercy
Book Features
Edition / printing First edition, first printing
Overall condition Fine / Fine (see our article on Condition Grades)
Signed On the title page
Dated 10.29.2008 [prepublication, US date format MM.DD.YYYY]
Awards and Media
Awards and prizes Orange Prize for Fiction 2009 – longlist
Book Stats
Publisher Vintage Publishing
Imprint Chatto & Windus
Publication date
Printed by Clays Ltd, Bungay
ISBN 13 9780701180454
ISBN 10 0701180455
Format Hardcover with dust jacket
Pages 165
Size (h x w x d) 242 x 150 x 23mm
Image and Design Credits
Author photograph Timothy Greenfield-Sanders
Jacket photographs Marcus Lyon at the The Glassworks

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