Today I am reviewing A Matter of Mercy by Lynne Hugo for TLC Book Tours. As always, I am provided with a copy of the book in exchange for my honest review.
About the book (from the publisher): Caroline Marcum thought she’d escaped the great mistake of her life by leaving Wellfleet harbor, but is forced to face it when she returns, reluctantly, to care for her dying mother. Ridley Neal put his past – and his prison term – behind him to return home to take over his father’s oyster and clam beds. Casual acquaintances long ago, when a nor’easter hits the coast, Rid and Caroline’s lives intersect once again. When Rid and two other sea farmers are sued by the wealthy owner of a vacation home who wants to shut them down, and Caroline accidentally meets the person she most wronged, they each must learn to trust and love. Inspired by a 1996 lawsuit, A Matter of Mercy is a riveting novel about treasuring the traditional way of life in the shallows of a beautiful Cape Cod bay by discovering where forgiveness ends. And where it begins.
My review: We’ve all made mistakes, have wounded others, and have secrets within our hearts – some of which bring feelings of regret and shame. The two characters whose lives intersect in this novel are scarred and laden down by their own particular burdens of guilt. Trust is hard to come by. Redemption is even harder.
I find redemption to be one of the most powerful themes in literature. Finding redemption, along with the journey it takes to get there, is the framework for this plot. How does someone open the door to love and forgiveness and trust after having shut that door for many years?
Aquaculture (sea farming) is the backdrop for this novel and is the industry that helps to sustain the old town of Wellfleet. I admit I knew next-to-nothing about aquaculture before reading this book, but the author manages to educate us about sea farming in a way that flows easily within the context of the novel. I found it fascinating. The legal case that inspired this novel is fascinating, as well. What happens when a wealthy home owner’s ‘view’ collides with a way of life that has existed for many, many years?
Hugo has painted a detailed picture of life in Wellfleet, on the land and in the bay. You can almost smell the salt water. She clearly knows and loves her setting.
Though the pace of the story is slow, it befits life in a small town on the Cape. My one quibble is that it seemed a bit over-written at times, especially towards the end, where I thought some judicious editing would have helped the flow of the story.
This is ultimately a heart-warming book about love and all it encompasses: love for a dying mother, a way of life, an unborn child, a grieving mother. We all deserve a second chance.
About the author: Lynne Hugo is a National Endowment for the Arts Fellowship recipient who has also received grants from the Ohio Arts Council and the Kentucky Foundation for Women. She has published five previous novels, one of which became a Lifetime Original Movie of the Month, two books of poetry, and a children’s book. Her memoir, Where the Trail Goes Faint, won the Riverteeth Literary Nonfiction Book Prize. Born and educated in New England, she and her husband currently live in Ohio with a yellow lab feared by squirrels in a three state area.
I’m sorry to say there is no giveaway for this particular review. I wish there was because you know I love to giveaway books!