A Mercy by Toni Morrison
Toni Morrison’s latest offering, A Mercy, is the author at her best. A seeming companion to Beloved, the novel tells the story of a household microcosm of the early seeds of slavery in the Americas. While Morrison shifts artfully between the voices of many, the story focuses primarily around Florens, a young girl offered to a rare un-cruel trader as payment for her own master’s debt. Florens spends her life under Sir, formally Jacob Vaark, seeking companionship first with Lina, a Native American slave that takes the young girl under wing, and second, with a free black, Vaark’s blacksmith. Throughout the novel, though, the reader learns the plights of many different walks of human life during this time: the indentured servant in Walter and Scully, the “witch” in Daughter Jane, the savage in Lina, the religiously persecuted European in Rebekka and finally the tragically used-up Sorrow, who is perhaps the representation of what would have happened to Florens had she not been mercifully released by her mother. This is surely a tragedy, but one that is made even more stark by Morrison’s lyrical prose.