Although Ann Tatlock is the 2012 Christy Award Winner, I had never heard of her but expected great things.... And she did not disappoint! Somehow she has written 9 other novels and I have just learned of her.
Sweet Mercy is set in the Prohibition Era, first in St. Paul, Minnesota and later in Mercy, Ohio. Seventeen year old Eve loves the Lord and Prohibition and is as idealistic as many Christian seventeen year olds can be. She learns, through a series of events, that everything isn't as black and white as she origionally thought.Â
Eve, her family and the life situations in which they found themselves seemed real. I genuinely felt like I was reading real journal of events and greatly enjoyed a taste of what it may have been like being a devoted follower of God and trying to discern how to live that out in the 1930's.
I will add that this story opens 50 years later as Eve searches the attic for a token of love given to her from her husband of 48 years. As she recounts the stories of her life in the island lodge to her grandson, Sean, I found myself wondering several times which trinket placed in her memory box was the one that drove her to the hotel's attic in the first place.
This was a fantastic summer read and I came to love Eve as she transitioned from naive and idealistic to a young woman who still stands her ground but sees life with a few shades of gray, rather than so black and white.
In order to comply with Federal Trade Commission regulations, please note that Bethany House Publishers has provided me with a complimentary copy of this book and all the opinions expressed have been my own.
Sweet Mercy by Ann Tatlock is not only a wonderful book, but it will give you a lot to think about. At first, I had trouble identifying with the main character, Eve Marryat. The story takes place in 1931 during Prohibition and the Great Depression. Because I live in post-prohibition, I just could not identify with this character's strong aversion to alcohol being bought and sold in stores. However, Tatlock did such a fabulous job of writing that it wasn't long before I could see and feel the events through Eve's eyes. I understood what she and the other characters were going through and sympathized with her pain.
I also learned a lot about this historical period; things I never learned in history class. Never before had I grasped what the average citizen went through during this period of time when gangsters, bootleggers, bank robbers, money launderers, and corrupt lawmen ran the businesses, the banks and the local government. When the average citizen watched people get gunned down in the streets right in front of them and car bombs were frequent events. When advertisements in the paper read, "Bullet holes rewoven perfectly in damaged clothes." I just never knew how corrupt it was.
It made me begin to wonder what will happen to our country if gun laws get passed. Will we go through a Gun Prohibition that will be similar to the Prohibition in the 30s? Perhaps we need to reread our history a bit more closely and think about the long-term effects of passing laws like this.
Although the book is an eye-opener about the Prohibition era, it is in no way a boring read, nor is it depressing. It is a coming-of-age story, a love story, and a story of mercy. It has a surprise ending that made me both laugh and cry. After I was done, I went back and read parts of it again. That's how much it affected me.
Sweet Mercy is the perfect title for this book, too. You'll see what I mean when you read it. Trust me, you don't want to miss this one!
NOTE: I received a free copy of this book from the publisher for the purpose of writing the review; however, this in no way reflects my review of the book. My opinions are my own, good or bad!
Eve Marryat has life all figured out. She knows who she wants to be in life (not like her sister, Cassandra,) and she knows what she believes (Prohibition means exactly that. Prohibited.) It is 1931, and when her father gets laid off from his job he packs up the family and relocates them to Mercy, Ohio where his brothers are. Eve's uncle, Cy Marryat provides a place for the family at Marryat Island Ballroom and Lodge, and in return, they help him run the place.
Happy to escape the haven for criminals St. Paul has become, Eve settles on life on Marryat Island like she's lived there forever. She becomes friends with the some of the local young people, and life that summer is just one happy day after another. But when she accidentally discovers something that was never meant for her to find, will living on the island may turn out to be exactly what she was trying to get away from in St. Paul? And what will happen with the new friendships she has made - especially with one young man called Link?
There was a lot of surprises for me in this book. I try to open each novel with an open mind and the knowledge that it is just a story, woven from the mind of the author. But Tatlock wrote a tale that mirrors the hopes and dreams that will always be constant themes for humanity. The hope of a fresh start. The dream for a better life. Things we all want at some point in our life. This novel speaks of the things that are important; family, moral choices, and most of all - love. A wonderful place to escape for a few hours, and a story you will regret having to finish.
This book was provided by Bethany House Publishers for free in exchange for an honest review.
When the movie Public Enemy was partially filmed in Wisconsin several summers ago, it fed a renewed interest in the Great Depression, Prohibition, and of course, the gangsters who thrived during that time. One of our young twenty something neighbors even got a "part" as an extra, and we all watched carefully to see her multi-second debut into the world of film. Despite all this interest in the time period, I was surprised to see prohibition and its underworld the subject of a Christian novel. I was even more surprised at what an entertaining story Ann Tatlock created with this subject.
Seventeen year-old Eve is delighted that she and her parents have left the Twin Cities to find work at her uncle's lodge in Ohio. Eve believes that St. Paul has become too much a city of gangsters and danger, and she wants peace. At first the Marryat Ballroom and Lodge seems ideal, providing not only a place to live and work, but also Eve's first chance at romance. Then Eve begins to see the realities around her. Each day, bums from the nearby "camp" arrive outside the lodge for a handout. When Eve makes friends with one young drifter named Link, her black and white views must face that life sometimes delivers gray. As a tentative friendship develops with her uncle's reclusive, albino step-son, Eve sees the sensitivity and hurt in the young man, while others only see a frightening "red-eyed devil." Like all of us, Eve finally must face that she has always been to quick to judge others, and maybe, just maybe, she doesn't have all the right answers.
I would recommend this story for young adult readers. Ann Tatlock wove into the story some details about Al Capone which are not widely known. I think those details added impact to the themes of forgiveness and judgment. While I thought the story flowed, I anticipated every turn and twist, and I was left with no surprises. Still, it was a fun read and worth the time. I received a copy of this book for review purposes. All opinions are mine.
For me alot of times, it is the cover art that will sell me on a book, that and the description on the back. So the cover art on this particular book intrigued me, but the back, I had to read several times to figure out if I really wanted to read the book. Finally, I threw aside my hesitations and went for it. I'm glad I did.
I received my book in the mail on Friday, and started it sporadically on Saturday. By Saturday evening, I was fully dedicated to ready the book, unable to stop until it was finished.
Basically, the premise of the book is set in the days of the Depression and the Prohibition. Eve Marryat and her family leave their home in St. Paul, MN to go home to her father's roots in Ohio. Eve is more than willing to leave the land of gangster's behind, having seen her own share of horrors at a young age. They arrive in Ohio, on Marryat island, where her father's brother owns a lodge. There, they stay to help work in the lodge and earn their keep. While there, Eve makes a friend and finds her first love. Unfortunately, a discovery forces her to tell secrets. Then, she and her father are forced to keep a secret, that has a potential for widespread consequences. They choose to return home, and turn a blind eye on what is happening. In the mean time, she meets a red-eyed devil and a bum from Shantytown.
All in all, the book was pleasant to read. It had a good plot and followed along a reasonable time line. I didn't feel like I was missing pieces along the way. I like the way the book started, and then the way it ended, almost like a story within a story. I liked Eve, although she did seem self-righteous at times. However, she did admit mistakes and wasn't too goody-goody.
As I said, I did enjoy the book and it was detailed enough that I was able to imagine myself there alongside Eve at times. That said, in hindsight, I realize that the characters weren't fully explored. Marlene, a friend that Eve met, wasn't much explored. You didn't miss her once her character left the pages. Marcus, Eve's first love...was another person who could come or leave. I like the book also, because even though it was set during the prohibition times, Eve was actually a good girl. She didn't delve into the flapper or want to try to drink, she was on the flip side, the ones against drinking. However, she was neither the one who was out holding signs and trying to root out the evil stills. She was a middle man, caught in a situation while she was trying to live out life the best that she could.
I did enjoy the book, and thought it was a good read. The only part where I thought it could develop more was in the richness of the characters and the era. For it to have received a Christy Award, I guess I was expecting something more along the lines of the book "Christy" or "Julie", two of my favorite books.
I received this complimentary copy from Bethany House Publishers to provide an honest review.