A Tangled Mercyby Published 01 Nov 2017
|A Tangled Mercy.pdf|
|Publisher||Lake Union Publishing|
Told in alternating tales at once haunting and redemptive, A Tangled Mercy is a quintessentially American epic rooted in heartbreaking true events examining the harrowing depths of human brutality and betrayal, and our enduring hope for freedom and forgiveness.
After the sudden death of her troubled mother, struggling Harvard grad student Kate Drayton walks out on her lecture—and her entire New England life. Haunted by unanswered questions and her own uncertain future, she flees to Charleston, South Carolina, the place where her parents met, convinced it holds the key to understanding her fractured family and saving her career in academia. Kate is determined to unearth groundbreaking information on a failed 1822 slave revolt—the subject of her mother’s own research.
Nearly two centuries earlier, Tom Russell, a gifted blacksmith and slave, grappled with a terrible choice: arm the uprising spearheaded by members of the fiercely independent African Methodist Episcopal Church or keep his own neck out of the noose and protect the woman he loves.
Kate’s attempts to discover what drove her mother’s dangerous obsession with Charleston’s tumultuous history are derailed by a horrific massacre in the very same landmark church. In the unimaginable aftermath, Kate discovers a family she never knew existed as the city unites with a powerful message of hope and forgiveness for the world.
"A Tangled Mercy" Reviews
A haunting book, A Tangled Mercy held my attention gripped in it's claws from the first page. A time slip book it contains alternating chapters taking place in the modern time of 2015 and the past time of 1822. Based on true facts of what really happened in Charleston, South Carolina. The author has done an absolutely amazing job of research and presenting facts in this book.The writing though is not stiff and boring it flows and keeps you wanting to read it. The story touched on the slave rebellion planned by Denmark Vesey in 1822 but aborted when terrified associates leaked the plan to the white men of the city. The 2015 part included the massacre of nine members of a Bible study at the Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church. When the author went to this church to interview people she was welcomed in. The two time periods have just the right amount of information that keeps you reading rapidly right to the end to see the conclusion. At times heartbreaking and heartwarming you will love this historical fiction. This is my first book I've read by Joy Jordan-Lake and I am now looking for more books by this author.
Pub Date 01 Nov 2017
Thank you to NetGalley and Lake Union Publishing for a review copy in exchange for my honest opinion.
I've been excited about this one for a long time! The backstory of how this book came to be what it is is really incredible, and I hope Joy tells it publicly one day. The story itself is timely and engaging, and perfect for fans of historical fiction that flips back and forth in time, like you'd see in the works of Kate Morton or Susan Meissner.
I am not a mystery reader, but found myself engaged with this novel from the start – likely because this is a hybrid of a story: it reads like a mystery, but also is a historical novel with a dual contemporary-commercial story running right alongside it.
I adore historical fiction, and the southern setting and time period have a special place in my heart (as a research period and locale for my own work). I enjoyed the peek into the 1800s setting and into the conflicting attitudes of women in slave-holding households. As well, the descriptions of Charleston and the Low Country are lovely, and the contemporary story has a bittersweet + heartwarming ending. The bigger issues of race are well-drawn, also.
I thoroughly enjoyed the author’s acknowledgements and her subsequent notes about this book’s genesis, its unintended metamorphosis AFTER it was completed, and the gentle way she treats events within the book that are based on past – and recent – history in the United States.
This was the perfect read for me while I was on the treadmill. If you enjoy commercial/women’s fiction and dual novels constructed with a person in the present investigating clues from the past, and the past story running concurrently, this is the book for you.
A Tangled Mercy is the best book I have read in a long time. The writer did a great job of holding my interest and I hated to put it down. She did a wonderful job in her research in Charleston and her writing is easy to read. I loved the way she went back and forth from 1822 to 2015 and how it all tied together. It kept me guessing all along as to the ending which was a pleasant surprise. My favorite books are historical fiction and this is one of the best.
TL;DR: A compelling, gentle mystery with the spotlight on racism and racial inequality that could stand to do with more input from actual people of color.
Trigger warnings for [spoilers removed]
I received a free copy of this book in exchange for my unbiased review.
My reviews can also be found on my blog Kristina Reads.
The book causes a lot of emotional ripples all at once – the massacre at Emanuel African Methodist Church, the private hanging of Denmark Vesey for planning the revolt, the public hangings and bodily mutilations of those involved. It was hard not to be moved by the emotion in this book, and the author did an excellent job of conveying those sentiments.
Where the book lost that fifth star for me was the lack of input from the black characters. The “present” chapters are focused almost exclusively on Kate, despite how big of a role that Gabe and Dan played in her story line. The “then” chapters alternate between Tom Russel, a slave; Emily Pinckney, the daughter of a slave owner; and Dinah, Emily’s maid. Despite the importance of Tom and Dinah’s relationship – it being the second most important story line of the past section of the book – we hardly see things from Dinah’s POV at all. The chapters focused on Emily, especially at the end, seem eager to paint a white savoir. Nina Grimké makes a few appearances as well, but isn’t the focus of any chapters.
Overall I enjoyed this book and its story, that entertained with fiction while incorporating the tale of two very important events that occurred in Charleston. It certainly brought tears to my eyes many times but you leave the book feeling light with hope.