Length: 278 pages
Publication: August 1st, 2014 by Blank Slate Press
Source: TLC Book Tours
Synopsis: 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 owners of vacation homes who want to shut them down, and Caroline accidentally meets the person she most wronged, they each must learn to trust-and love.
What I thought:
What struck me most as I was reading this book was the way Hugo is able to capture a setting that is foreign to me and yet have it feel easily recognizable. I know next to nothing about Cape Cod as I’ve never been, but the characters that populate A Matter of Mercy seem to fit perfectly in this world. Through reading about and getting to know Rid, Caroline, and the other inhabitants of Wellfleet, I was able to empathize with them and their problems.
I felt anxious alongside Rid as he works with the natural elements to harvest his oysters and quahogs (my new vocabulary word of the week), wanting nothing more than to honor his father’s legacy and live out a productive life by the sea. I grieved with Caroline as she says goodbye to her mother and struggles to make some connection to the hometown she left behind. There are larger issues at stake in the lawsuit that forms the backbone of the plot and former crimes that come back to haunt, but the real struggles in the book are deeply personal and have more to do with the characters’ personal redemption than public legal battles.
Hugo’s writing is a pleasure to read. She portrays her characters and their world in a way that is believable and engaging. I came to care about these people, even if their lack of communication skills and frequent false assumptions were frustrating to witness. To be honest, I was surprised that Rid and Caroline ever managed to work things out given the awkwardness of their early interactions. I’m not sure that I completely bought the idea of a romance between them, but they are two people who come together out of need and I suppose there are worse foundations on which to build a relationship.
A Matter of Mercy gives readers a view of life in a Cape Cod fishing town and characters who are faced with personal challenges. The way the characters respond to those challenges brings out both their best and their worst qualities, but ultimately the choices they make bring them closer together and help them to become more true to themselves.
About the author:
Lynne Hugo is an American author whose roots are in the northeast. A National Endowment For The Arts Fellowship recipient, she has also received repeat individual artists grants from the Ohio Arts Council and the Kentucky Foundation for Women. Her publications include five novels, one volume of creative non-fiction, two books of poetry and a children’s book. She lives with her husband, the Vice President for Academic Affairs of a liberal arts college, in the Midwest. They have two grown children, three grandchildren, and a yellow Labrador retriever.
I’m giving away one copy of A Matter of Mercy to a lucky reader (U.S. or Canada only, sorry). To enter, just leave a comment with your name and email address. Good luck!
Thanks so much to TLC Book Tours for providing me with a copy of this book and giving me a chance to share my review.