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The Shape of Mercy: A Novel - eBook
WaterBrook Press / 2010 / ePub
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Lauren Durough is a West Coast English major at the proverbial age of discovery. Sheltered in her childhood years by family wealth, she is just beginning to grasp how people judge others by what they want to believe about them; particularly, how the poor mistakenly view the wealthy and vice-versa. When she opts out of her family's monthly financial support, she takes on a job as a literary assistant to Abigail Boyles, an eighty year-old reclusive, retired librarian. Abigail tasks Lauren with transcribing the diary of Abigail's ancestral cousin, Mercy Hayworth--a woman hanged for witchcraft in seventeenth century Salem, Massachusetts. The lives of Abigail and Lauren, two very different women, converge as they jointly piece together the life and death of Mercy Hayworth. Lauren finds herself drawn to this girl who lived four hundred years earlier, who also struggled against undeserved cultural stigmatization, but lost. But the more she learns about Mercy, the more Lauren realizes this project is as much about Abigail as it is her ancestor. As secrets unfold, the extent to which the lives of these three women are connected comes to light, and both Lauren and Abigail find their lives and the very way they view the world irrevocably changed
“We understand what we want to understand.”
Leaving a life of privilege to strike out on her own, Lauren Durough breaks with convention and her family’s expectations by choosing a state college over Stanford and earning her own income over accepting her ample monthly allowance. She takes a part-time job from 83-year-old librarian Abigail Boyles, who asks Lauren to transcribe the journal entries of her ancestor Mercy Hayworth, a victim of the Salem witch trials.
Almost immediately, Lauren finds herself drawn to this girl who lived and died four centuries ago. As the fervor around the witch accusations increases, Mercy becomes trapped in the worldview of the day, unable to fight the overwhelming influence of snap judgments and superstition, and Lauren realizes that the secrets of Mercy’s story extend beyond the pages of her diary, living on in the mysterious, embittered Abigail.
The strength of her affinity with Mercy forces Lauren to take a startling new look at her own life, including her relationships with Abigail, her college roommate, and a young man named Raul. But on the way to the truth, will Lauren find herself playing the helpless defendant or the misguided judge? Can she break free from her own perceptions and see who she really is?
Susan Meissner has been feeding her love of writing all her life. Her first novel, Why the Sky is Blue, was released in 2004, after she resigned her post as editor for a local newspaper in a rural Minnesota town. Since that time she has had several books published and moved to San Diego, where she lives with her family.
The lives of three women are connected in The Shape of Mercy by Susan Meissner, a powerful story about mercy, preconceived notions, and love. Lauren Durough was brought into the world as a daughter in a wealthy family. Trying to get away from her haughty lifestyle, Lauren goes to college, lives on campus with a roommate, and decides to get a job. She is hired by Abigail Boyles to transcribe the diary of Mercy Hayworth, a victim of the Salem witch trials. Along the way, she struggles to overcome her judgmental attitude toward others around her and learns how to overcome the person she has been.
With a voice that comes out of the pages, Susan Meissner creates a believable set of characters and settings without resorting to the stereotypical ideas of what a person should be. The relationships work in the novel without become trite. Even the love interest that develops in the book is done well. The overall style of the book is one that captivates interest and makes the reader to want to keep reading. When reaching the end of the book, I was surprised at how much I was affected by the story.
While Lauren has faith in God, her relationships at the beginning of the novel hardly reflect Gods loving nature. She is too blinded by what she wants to believe about others. Through transcribing Mercys diary, Lauren learns to trust God even more and to see others in a new way. Mercys story teaches a wonderful lesson about displaying mercy to those who do wrong against you, and it gives a perfect example of mercy as described in James 2:13. Abigails story shows Lauren how to become the person she wants to be.
This book is a wonderful tale that delivers a powerful message about tolerance and peace everyone can learn from. I highly recommend it. -- Timothy Steece, www.ChristianBookPreviews.com
Meissner's newest novel is potentially life-changing, the kind of inspirational fiction that prompts readers to call up old friends, lost loves or fallen-away family members to tell them that all is forgiven and that life is too short for holding grudges. Achingly romantic, the novel features the legacy of Mercy Haywortha young woman convicted during the Salem witch trialswhose words reach out from the past to forever transform the lives of two present-day women. These book loversAbigail Boyles, elderly, bitter and frail, and Lauren Lars Durough, wealthy, earnest and youngbecome unlikely friends, drawn together over the untimely death of Mercy, whose precious diary is all that remains of her too short life. And what a diary! Mercy's words not only beguile but help Abigail and Lars together face life's hardest struggles about where true meaning is found, which dreams are worth chasing and which only lead to emptiness, and why faith and hope are essential on life's difficult path. Meissner's prose is exquisite and she is a stunning storyteller. This is a novel to be shared with friends. (Sept. 16)Copyright 2008 Reed Business Information.
“As raindrops become mighty rivers, Susan Meissner’s words seem simple in the beginning, but one thought builds naturally upon another, phrases and sentences flow together with effortless fluidity, and before you know it, you are totally engrossed by the powerful undercurrents of her story. To read Ms. Meissner is to put yourself into the hands of that rarest kind of author: an artist working in the medium of words.”
–Athol Dickson, Christy Award-winning author of The Cure and Winter Haven
“I loved The Shape of Mercy from beginning to end. Ms. Meissner’s prose sings, and her characters captured my interest from the start. As the story unfolded, those same characters captured my heart. I won’t soon forget Mercy, Lauren, or Abigail.”
–Robin Lee Hatcher, award-winning author of Wagered Heart and When Love Blooms
“The Shape of Mercy is vintage Susan Meissner: tender storytelling that keeps you hooked; living, breathing characters that capture your heart and madden you, too; and a message of redemption that sticks with you. Meissner deftly weaves the stories of three women of vastly different generations, connecting them perfectly and crafting a winsome, interesting, powerful read.”
–Mary E. DeMuth, author of Watching the Tree Limbs and Daisy Chain
“A compelling tale that will resonate long after you turn the last page. A haunting story, deftly woven, full of layers and textures that will quickly pull you out of the present and into the long forgotten past. Meissner recalls a tale that must not be forgotten, about the tragedies and senseless cruelties which happen when we abandon grace and turn our backs on mercy.”
–Siri Mitchell, author of A Constant Heart
“The Shape of Mercy is a truly lovely story, one to savor again and again. In a fantastic blend of old and new, this modern-day novel has the scope and feel of a historical. The characters and their journeys will touch your heart.”
—Mindy Starns Clark, author of Whispers of the Bayou
“A bit of mystery, fascinating history, and the biggest question of all: What would you do for love? I can't stop thinking about The Shape of Mercy.”
–Roxanne Henke, author of After Anne and Learning to Fly
“With a deft hand, Meissner blends an intriguing storyline, artful writing, and memorable characters for a truly delicious read. This one’s a keeper!”
–Denise Hunter, author of The Convenient Groom
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