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3.33  ·  Rating Details ·  84 Ratings  ·  18 Reviews
Award-winning author Alissa York’s first novel is a haunting and masterful exploration of how passions of the spirit and the flesh can overwhelm us, and even come to inhabit the ground beneath our feet. Divided into two parts, Mercy pairs a single year in the past with a single night in the present, as they unfold in the town of Mercy, Manitoba, and in the neighbouring bla ...more
Hardcover, 344 pages
Published January 14th 2003 by Random House Canada (first published January 1st 2003)
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Orla Hegarty
Oct 06, 2016 Orla Hegarty rated it really liked it
Shelves: canada, feminist
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Sep 19, 2011 ExLibris_Kate rated it liked it
In 1948 a young and dedicated priest comes to Mercy, Manitoba to serve the community. As his first duty, he marries Thomas, the town butcher, and Mathilda, the niece of the rectory housekeeper. Although she is now married, Mathilda cannot deny the feelings she has for the new priest and Father Day struggles with his own love for Mathilda. Fifty years later, a corrupt minister comes to town with a plan to develop the wilderness for his own gain. He travels to the bog to confront the person that ...more
Jun 21, 2013 Ian rated it liked it
There's a gothic sensibility at the core of Alissa York's first novel, Mercy. The town of Mercy, Manitoba, is a hotbed of eccentricity and irrational longing where people nurse secret loves, illicit desires and hidden obsessions and where the town drunk lives on the bog in a house made of empty bottles. August Day is a young priest who arrives in Mercy to replace the recently deceased Father Rock. August's mother was a prostitute, and he bears the scars of an emotionally challenging upbringing. ...more
Mar 09, 2013 Misha rated it liked it
Shelves: canadian
BookList: This debut novel--combining the spirit of Peter Carey's Oscar and Lucinda laced with the corrosive foreboding of Heidi Julavits' Mineral Palace--marks the arrival of a talented new Canadian writer. In Mercy, Manitoba, an outpost town in the 1940s, the new priest, Father August Day, and the butcher's wife, Mathilda, begin an ill-fated love affair. Father August and Mathilda are dangerously drawn to one another from the moment they lock eyes on her wedding day. The isolation of the ...more
Mercy tells the interwoven stories of two generations in the small town of Mercy, Manitoba. In 1948, passion springs up between a young priest and the wife of the butcher. The author tells their tale of longing in very sensual language, sprinkled with quotes from Solomon's "Song of Songs" and Saint Augustine's "Confessions".

About twenty years later, a womanizing preacher comes into town with plans to build a summer camp by filling in a spruce bog, the home of a young woman who grew up in the wil
Jul 23, 2008 Tara rated it really liked it
Shelves: own
This book is a page turner. I found the style of writing and organization of the novel kept my interest the whole way through.

I was most captivated by the first part of the novel dealing with Father Day and Mathilda. I was surprised at how my disdain for Mathilda's husband Thomas quickly turned to sympathy and understanding. I found that my initial dislike of the man faded as I began to understand that behind the rough exterior, he was a devoted and caring husband who lost himself for some scrap
Apr 16, 2013 Dhali rated it it was ok
The written is dense and evocative but the characters are distinctly unlikable except for Thomas the butcher. I found it hard to care for Mathilda or August and the leap to the second part of story was so jarring that I stopped reading. I will go back and finish it but it's not an 'enjoyable' story and these aren't people I want to spend a lot of time with... best do it in stages

*** Later***

The second part of the story is also beautifully written especially the descriptions of Mary, her house a
Sarah (Workaday Reads)
This was a very literary type story that unfortunately seemed to ramble about with no distinct plot. The book was divided into two sections, which seemed to be very different stories with few overlapping connections.

The ending left me confused, There was no real conclusion and a lot of questions were left unanswered.

I was surprised at the amount of sexual references and overtones in the book. It was a little jarring and unexpected. For such a discreet time period with puritanical characters, sex
Jul 12, 2011 Amanda rated it it was amazing
Shelves: fiction
this is the first novel of Alissa York and the first one i've read. i discovered it and her at the fall Ottawa International Writers Festival. she read part of this book and i was intrigued, particularly by her interest and descriptions of the bog. York has a way with words and characters. The descriptions of the slaughter of animals were chilling and well done. and Castor's house of glass & Mary's bog remedies. gosh, just beautiful. i dearly want to read Fauna because it is set in the wilds ...more
Jan 31, 2014 Carlie rated it liked it
Shelves: fiction, 2014
After loving "Fauna," I'm working my way through Alissa York's backlist. Mercy was thematically good - the merging of religion and sexuality rings my reading bells - and the language was the same beautiful prose that I loved so much in her most recent novel. It's almost brutally sad.

But. The symbolism was tricky and so heavy-handed sometimes I had a hard time figuring out what she was trying to say, and knew there was a simpler way for her to say it. Some of the characters were a little thin. Th
Aug 26, 2016 Claudia rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
I was all set to give this novel two stars because although there was virtually no plot, the imagery is noteworthy. However, having reached the end, I'm going with one star. Whatever story was being told doesn't even have an ending! I'm not sure how the first part of the book is supposed to fit in with the second part. There's almost no point to the book at all. I'm really unsure about the purpose of lavinia's character.
There are great reviews for this book, I must have missed something.
Diana Stevan
Jun 20, 2013 Diana Stevan rated it really liked it
I was so impressed with this story and this author. In fact, I was jealous of her literary style. Mercy is a can't put down book, with unique characters trying to get the love they need in the strange little town of Mercy, Manitoba. Though dark at times, it's quite the moral read. Men of the cloth (priests and ministers) struggle with their demons along with other town folk, who've made this place a home. I'm surprised it hasn't won some award, though its author has for other works.
Aug 04, 2013 Mike rated it really liked it
This was her first novel. It's well written, kind of haunting. She sets and maintains a tone or atmosphere in the book. (Reminds me of some of JC Oates' writing.) It's two stories loosely connected over 40 years in a small town (called Mercy). The first story is a nice parable about good and evil. The second story is unfinished, but I was still very impressed by the book.
Apr 09, 2016 Debbie rated it did not like it
The characters were interesting but the plot never fully explored them. The book ended and I was left wondering what it is the end. The story was not finished.
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Born in 1970, Alissa York has lived all over Canada and now makes her home in Toronto with her husband, writer/filmmaker Clive Holden.

York's award-winning short fiction has appeared in various literary journals and anthologies, and in the collection, Any Given Power, published by Arbeiter Ring Publishing in 1999. Her first novel, Mercy, published by Random House Canada in 2003, was a Canadian best
More about Alissa York...

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