Author: Ann Tatlock
Review by Grace Olson
I apologize that this review is a little behind schedule. I have been working at an overnight camp for the past five weeks so the weekends have been my only time to work on my reviews. Today’s novel is set in the Great Depression era, a period in our nation’s history that I find particularly interesting as my grandma grew up during this difficult time. So without further ado, Sweet Mercy.
Taken from the back of Sweet Mercy:
When Eve Marryat’s father is laid off from the Ford Motor Company in 1931, he is forced to support his family by leaving St. Paul, Minnesota, and moving back to his Ohio roots. Eve’s uncle Cyrus has invited the family to live and work at his Marryat Island Ballroom and Lodge.
Eve can’t wait to leave St. Paul, a notorious haven for gangsters. At seventeen, she considers her family to be “good people,” not lawbreakers like so many in her neighborhood. Thrilled to be moving to a “safe haven,” Eve soon forms an unlikely friendship with a strange young man named Link, blissfully unaware that her uncle’s lodge is anything but what it seems.
When the reality of her situation finally becomes clear, Eve is faced with a dilemma. Does she dare risk everything by exposing the man whose love and generosity is keeping her family from ruin? And when things turn dangerous, can she trust Link in spite of appearances?
Sweet Mercy was written from Eve’s first-person point of view, something that I wished had been different as I would have liked to get into the heads of the other characters. That being said, had the book been written in third person, I would not have gotten to know Eve as well, so I don’t know that the best of both worlds is achievable. The book starts out with Eve as a grandma with her grandchild looking for something in the attic of the Marryat Island Ballroom and she tells the story of how she came to be in Mercy, Ohio and what she experienced while there. I liked how the story was wrapped up nicely in the epilogue, answering all the lingering questions the reader might be left with. I also found how Tatlock wrote about Prohibition and the strong, varied feelings of the day interesting as I hadn’t read many novels dealing with that topic.
Sweet Mercy is not a romance, though I wondered if it was going to be when I started out. The small amount of romance in the book was sweet, and I wished I could have read more of Eve’s life after the book to see her story play out.
I was expecting more from this story in regards to a spiritual message. The Catholic Church was alluded to several times as well as some of its saints, and the epilogue contained a brief mention of Jesus forgiving sins, but I didn’t feel as if it was backed up by the rest of the book. The phrase, “love shall cover the multitude of sins”, seemed to be the prevailing theme of the book, but this seemed to fall flat for me. As I am not a Catholic, I did not find the references to the Catholic Church meaningful, so that was a downside of this book for me.
About the Author
Biography from Bethany House Publisher’s website. Ann Tatlock is the author of the Christy Award-winning novel All the Way Home. She has also won the Midwest Independent Publishers Association “Book of the Year” in fiction for both All the Way Home and I’ll Watch the Moon. Her novel Things We Once Held Dear received a starred review from Library Journal and Publishers Weekly calls her “one of Christian fiction’s better wordsmiths, and her lovely prose reminds readers why it is a joy to savor her stories.” Ann lives with her husband and daughter in Asheville, North Carolina. ~ To learn more about her and the other books she has written, visit her web page: http://www.anntatlock.com/
Sweet Mercy was an entertaining read that I did enjoy, but I went into the book with expectations that I gathered from the back and from what I’m used to receiving from Bethany House Publishers, and ended up being disappointed. For those looking for an interesting read dealing with Prohibition, the feelings of the time, and a coming-of-age tale, Sweet Mercy could be the book for you.
I was given a free copy of Sweet Mercy from Bethany House Publishers for an honest review. I received no monetary compensation for a favorable review.
Sweet Mercy is available in download or paper copy.