Lauren, a wealthy college student, wants to break free from her family and make it on her own. Abigail Boyles, an elderly, bitter woman, hires Lauren to transcribe the diary of her ancestor, Mercy Hayworth, a victim of the Salem witch trials.
The more she reads Mercy’s words, the more invested Lauren becomes in the young girl’s story and the lies that transpired during the trials. Lauren also becomes drawn into Abigail’s life and the reasons behind the woman’s demeanor. The diary and what’s found on those pages bind the two contemporary women together.
Lauren is appalled at people’s reactions during the witch trials, and slowly begins to realize that she’s misjudged people in her own family and social life. For instance, when Lauren’s cousin brings a friend to a family event, Lauren first assumes one thing about him, and then another.
My review …
This story is about misperceptions and the consequences of not looking for the truth. It’s about regret, forgiveness, and realizing that life is too short to hold grudges. The author subtly weaves in a spiritual message that leaves readers with something to think about days after they turn the last page.
The Shape of Mercy is a wonderful blend of historical and contemporary fiction. For writers, the author provides a great example of how to use letters to tell a story in the past, and then bridge that story to the present in a way that causes change in the contemporary characters.
After reading this novel, it was no surprise to learn that it received rave reviews from Publisher’s Weekly and Romantic Times and numerous awards: the Best Religious Fiction of 2008 award from Publishers Weekly, as well as the title of 2008 ECPA Best Book of the Year, ACFW 2009 Book of the Year and a nomination for the 2009 RWA RITA award for a novel with strong romantic elements.
Submitted by a Christian Editor Network member.
Susan Meissner is the author of 13 novels, including The Shape of Mercy, named by Publishers Weekly as one of the Best Books of 2008. When she is not working on a new novel, she is directing the small groups ministries at The Church at Rancho Bernardo. She also enjoys teaching workshops on writing and dream-following, spending time with her family, music, reading great books, and traveling. She lives in southern California with her pastor husband and their four grown children.
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