Author: Lynne Hugo

+Blog Book Tour+ A Matter of Mercy by Lynne Hugo

Posted Tuesday, 30 September, 2014 by jorielov , , 1 Comment

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A Matter of Mercy by Lynne Hugo
Published By: Blank Slate Press (@blankslatepress) | Blog
Official Author Websites:  Site | @LynneHugo| GoodReads | Facebook
Available Formats: Trade Paper

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I was selected to be a tour stop on the “A Matter of Mercy” virtual book tour through TLC Book Tours. I received a complimentary ARC copy of the book direct from the publisher Blank Slate Press, in exchange for an honest review. I did not receive compensation for my opinions or thoughts shared herein.

+Blog Book Tour+ A Matter of Mercy by Lynne HugoA Matter of Mercy
by Lynne Hugo
Source: Direct from Publisher

Caroline Marcum thought she’d escaped the great mistake of her life by leaving Wellfleet harbor, but is forced to face it when she returns, reluctantly, to care for her dying mother. Ridley Neal put his past-and his prison term-behind him to return home to take over his father’s oyster and clam beds. Casual acquaintances long ago, when a nor’easter hits the coast, Rid and Caroline’s lives intersect once again. When Rid and two other sea farmers are sued by the wealthy owners of vacation homes who want to shut them down, and Caroline accidentally meets the person she most wronged, they each must learn to trust-and love.

Inspired by a 1996 lawsuit, A Matter of Mercy is a riveting novel about treasuring the traditional way of life in the shallows of beautiful Cape Cod bay by discovering where forgiveness ends. And where it begins.

Genres: Contemporary (Modern) Fiction (post 1945)

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Published by Blank Slate Press

on 1st August, 2014

Pages: 278

Author Biography:

Lynne Hugo

Lynne Hugo is a National Endowment for the Arts Fellowship recipient who has also received grants from the Ohio Arts Council and the Kentucky Foundation for Women. She has published five previous novels, one of which became a Lifetime Original Movie of the Month, two books of poetry, and a children’s book. Her memoir, Where The Trail Grows Faint, won the Riverteeth Literary Nonfiction Book Prize. Born and educated in New England, she and her husband currently live in Ohio with a yellow Lab feared by squirrels in a three state area.

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My Review of A Matter of Mercy:

The pull of narrative evoking out of the initial chapters of A Matter of Mercy propell the reader into a haunting ether-world between reality and the expanse of the next life past the one we walk on Earth. The emotional tug of understanding a daughter is on the precipice of saying good-bye to her mother, whose walk is ending through cancer is magnified by the subtlety of the setting being as serene and calm as a whisper of hope. You walk straight into the anguish of near-loss, ebbing out of the shadows of a recovered life being lived first by the daughter and then by an unknown secondary character who alights unexpectedly across the page during a random visit to the beach. You gather a foreboding sense there is an enriched history within the pages of the novel – stemming out of the place it is set as much as the characters who occupy it’s heart.

Although I had known the story was etched out of a daughter watching over her dying mother’s last days, reading the emotional taut passages choked my mind with the despair and the distraught feelings Caroline was facing as she tried to be brave in the face of uncertainty. There is no guideline to follow when your loved one is terminally ill and her character is writ with realistic truth of how a daughter musters the strength to deal with the routine of caregiving and the fleeting worry of unspoken conversations which emerge out of the fog of morphine.

Whilst reading about the tenacity the shell fishermen curate out of the angst of breathing a living out of a gamble against stacked odds made me re-value the delicacy of seafood; wild, caught, and captured by those whose belief in their trade outweigh the logic of the tides. A living brokered against the will to survive on less than a living wage whilst building their harvest is the measure of true grit and true iron spirit of survival. I was quite impressed with the interworkings of the way in which all of this takes place just offshore and away from land and sand. An entire world of a hard-won livelihood barely known to those outside the place in which the world exists.

I struggled to put my finger on the tone of the novel – the elusive narrative tone guiding the story forward at first felt like reading a realistic interlude of one woman’s story being interrupted through grief. On the opposite hand it felt like a grueling realistic quick-paced exploit of a law pervading through the hardworking men and women who lived off the grants for fishing off the shores where private land owners were attempting to upsurge their claims. I am normally not one who appreciates blatant and raw narratives, and although there were elements within this story I could appreciate and alight inside, there were full chapters where I had wished the roughness was polished out a bit more.

This is a story that aches with raw emotional tides of upturnt lives and washes out against the backdrop of two lives coming together from opposite backgrounds. The sincerity of their relationship felt stilted to me, as if they were simply being together out of necessity rather than any sort of honest attraction or mirth of reconciling their past. I felt myself pulled in and out of the story as it  proceeded to shift forward as I couldn’t find an anchor to keep me rooted in caring about how their lives were either going to continue to spiral out of control or find a bearing to make things right for once in their lives. I think it would be best for a reader to pick this novel up who appreciates stories that are more brutal in honesty and raw in intensity; whereas I appreciate stories that are rounded out a bit more and where the climax doesn’t feel as overpowering.

A direct appreciation for dedicated research & how a writer enhances their story:

Lynne Hugo deserves to be commended for the level of research she conducted to breathe authenticity into A Matter of Mercy, as even without a direct point of reference to clarify a few images wrought out of the trade of shellfishing, what I was able to grasp was the hardened life of those who walked the shores hoping their traps would yield a harvest they could live on. The certainty of how the imbalance of variables they cannot control ultimately wreck their fates was even more wrenching than realising how much joy they have in their work. Farmers of all backgrounds (by sea or land) are at the mercy of nature and the endurable buoyancy of trust and belief in what their able to harvest out of their endurance. It is a novel which breeches past the plate of where their toils end and humanises the reality of where the delicacies are procured.

Fly in the Ointment:

There was an undercurrent of abrasive language edging around the dialogue of the story, a bit intermittent and a bit unexpected in where it alighted in the thread of the narrative itself, but a presence that I cannot say added to the story itself but rather was inserted here or there. The only time I felt it might have relevancy is when Caroline’s mother started to use certain expressions in her conversations with her daughter – but rather than blame it on her terminal illness, it was blamed on a divorce. I had heard that sometimes people can change their personalities due to medications and due to life altering illnesses, so for me that felt more apparent of why she suddenly changed her spots for language rather than merely living a life alone without her husband.

I felt the entire arc of the story was hinged by two lost souls who were attempting to repair the damage they wrought out of bad choices and the sins of wrongs they could never fully find forgiveness for as the aftereffects ran too deep. What I hadn’t sorted out is why their emotional baggage was dispersed with a bit of recklessness and without a consequence or an emotional response. When Caroline first started to tell Rid for instance how she caused the fatality which took the life of a child, I found his sudden exit out of the scene and out of the conversation a bit circumvent and convenient. I was expecting an emotional response not a grab my clothes and leave without any hint of what his reaction could have been; as if she hadn’t spoken anything gutting at all.

I also had a small issue with Rid’s name itself – Rid I am sure makes sense to some who read this story, but for me, it felt like an annoyance, as though he had half a name rather than full name? Short for Ridley I must say I preferred the fullness of his name over the shortened nickname.

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{SOURCES: Cover art of “A Matter of Mercy”, author photograph, author biography, book synopsis and the tour badge were all provided by TLC Book Tours and used with permission. Blog Tour badge provided by Parajunkee to give book bloggers definition on their blogs. Bookish Events badge created by Jorie in Canva. Post dividers by Fun Stuff for Your Blog via Pure Imagination.}

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Posted Tuesday, 30 September, 2014 by jorielov in 20th Century, Aquaculture, ARC | Galley Copy, Based on an Actual Event &/or Court Case, Blog Tour Host, Cape Cod, Death, Sorrow, and Loss, Fly in the Ointment, Geographically Specific, Grief & Anguish of Guilt, Indie Author, Life Shift, Literary Fiction, Modern Day, Realistic Fiction, Terminal Illness &/or Cancer, TLC Book Tours, Vulgarity in Literature, Women's Health