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?
Ann Tatlock is the author of the Christy-Award winning novel Promises to Keep. 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.
Sweet Mercy is definitely an historical novel set among the days of the Great Depression and Prohibition. The danger, despair and the desperation of the times comes through. But this novel is so much more — a novel of a young woman trying desperately to be good — to live up to what she perceives as the expectations of her parents and God.
Eve Marryat has grown up in Minneapolis, a city that is a haven for the country’s criminals, where corruption and deceit are the norm. Her older sister has succumbed to the allure of the speakeasy, so when her parents decide to move to the small resort her uncle owns in Mercy, Ohio, Eve senses she will at last have the peace and safety she has longed for. Surely, Mercy will be a place where people will follow the law and keep the peace. But Prohibition and the many unemployed have created an atmosphere for bootleggers to flourish. Eve is staunchly anti-alcohol and is determined to shun those who think differently.
The story begins at the now closed Inn; Eve and her grandson are back to retrieve a long-lost treasure before the building is torn down. Eve tells her grandson of the summer she spent in Mercy and the lessons she learned.
Eve lives her life to the letter of the law, yet the spirit is somewhat elusive to her. She cannot understand why people can’t be good, since it is so easy for her. But through her experiences that summer, the words of a small town preacher, and the actions of those around her, Eve learns what God’s mercy looks like and everyone’s need for it.
I liked everything about this book — the setting, the characters, the easy writing style. I also liked the historical context and facts that Tatlock weaves throughout the story. There is an interesting and little known story about Al Capone told at the end that the reader should not miss. All in all, Sweet Mercy is a recommended read.
(Thanks to NetGalley for my copy of Sweet Mercy. The opinions expressed are mine alone.)
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