Prather’s Pick: A good book for book club
Jodi Picoult is one of my favorite authors so when I found “Mercy” with books in the book/magazine section of City Market, I snatched it up. It’s an older book (1996) and unbelievably one I hadn’t read before.
I tend to look at the plots to Picoult’s novels as “complicated” and incredibly well-crafted. This week’s book is no exception.
The prologue to “Mercy” engages the reader right off. A woman is gathering up items for a yard sale, but this is no ordinary sale as they all belong to a man—right down to an old leather wing chair. And then the sale is over, and the strong box contains more than seven hundred dollars.
The reader wonders if it’s a divorce or if the man has died, but then the woman’s husband arrives home. He’s made “good time” and he remarks that it was a good day for a garage sale. But after going into the house the husband is shocked beyond words. The reader is hooked.
The first page of Chapter 1 is shocking, too—perhaps gruesome, perhaps loving, as it depends on the reader’s point of view– because a man is suffocating his wife with a pillow. He’s doing it at her request. The reader doesn’t learn their names until the end of the chapter. First, the reader meets Cameron (Cam) MacDonald, Chief of Police in Wheelock, Massachusetts, and his wife Allie, who is the owner of a flower shop. (Cam is one of the MacDonald clan from Scotland.)
At the end of the chapter James (Jamie) MacDonald drives up in front of the police station and introduces himself to Cam. He says that he’s Cam’s cousin. He points to his truck where a dead woman is slumped over in the passenger seat. Jamie says it is his wife Maggie, and he has just killed her.
Jamie tells Cam how Maggie developed cancer—first in her ankle bones, then in her lymph nodes, and eventually in her brain. Maggie believed that one day there would be nothing left of her so she pleaded with Jamie to end her life.
Cam is sympathetic, but Jamie is guilty of premeditated murder. He charges Jamie in Maggie’s death. But Allie doesn’t agree with her husband. She thinks it was an action of kindness and love. The townspeople are at odds, too. A jury trial is held.
On the day Jamie confesses, Allie goes to her flower shop to find Mia Townsend. Mia wonders if Allie might be looking for an assistant. Her specialty is bonsai trees. Mia has a cat with her. Cam is drawn to Mia.
This book can be described as a “page-turner.” Besides that, as with other of Picoult’s books, there’s a touch of magic, too. A list of discussion questions found at the end of the book might be used in a book club discussion. I’d love to hear other readers’ interpretations of the book’s ending!
I read the paperback version of “Mercy.” Published by Pocket Books, it costs $9.99.
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