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Sunday, April 3, 2016

Mercy Street by Tess Evans

Title: Mercy Street
Author: Tess Evans
Publisher: 1 January 2016 by Harper Collins AU
Pages: 304 pages
How I Read It: ARC book
Genre: general fiction, Australia, contemporary
My Rating: 3 crowns

A tender, sweet and funny novel from bestselling novelist Tess Evans.

A delightful, sweet and funny novel from bestselling novelist Tess Evans, MERCY STREET tells the heartwarming story of curmudgeonly pensioner George, who, since his wife's death three years ago, is living a life that is no more than the sum of his 'worn-out, washed out days'. While his marriage to Pen was a happy one, they never had children, so his life has narrowed to trips to the shop, occasional visits from his bossy sister Shirl and afternoons in the pub with his old mate Redgum.

But one day, everything changes when Angie, a nineteen-year-old single mother, unexpectedly saves his life. George grudgingly acknowledges his debt to her, and later, when Angie asks for a favour, he has no choice but to agree. Gradually George's life begins to blossom, until Angie's fecklessness unexpectedly sets him on the wrong side of the law. It takes all of his love and courage, and friends both old and new, for George to deal with a very unexpected turn of events.

A novel about mistakes, accidental families, and the transformative power of love, from the bestselling author of BOOK OF LOST THREADS, Tess Evans.

My Thoughts

I have mixed thoughts on this book. On the one hand I very much enjoyed how Evans explored the concept of families and what that entails in todays world. On the surface it looks to be sweet and affirming of what can transform our thoughts and lives. On the other hand, I have some real issues with the resolution and its timing. It is a very Australian-Victorian (state in Australia) read and some references may get lost on some readers:

"They might have batted for Australia, played full-forward for the Blues" or "Choc Wedges"
(cricket, football, ice-creams)

Credit is to be given to Evans for touching on a range of pertinent and heartfelt topics: family and parental responsibilities, domestic violence, ageing, infertility, media influences, grief and loneliness, drug use - just to name a few. That alone is quite brave and although no one issue is dealt with in any detail, I think in fairness, Evans does a reasonable job considering the breadth of issues. Some are taken seriously, whilst others contain a hint of humour.

"Take people as you find them. That's what I always say.'
'Live and let live.'
'Too right.'
The two philosophers stare into their ale. If only everyone thought as they did. The world would be a better place, that's for sure."

I have issues, however, with how the conflict was resolved. I was not happy with the outcome yet that may very well just be my personal opinion. Without giving anything away (for I was rather shocked) I was saddened and thought it dealt with too quickly and too lightly, for what really were serious consequences. It was not trivial, yet given the short attention paid to it, I did not think it fair or right. I don't dispute that it was very 'Australian' - raw and brutal at times (this was no Hollywood ending), however for it to be credible, I believe more time needed to be given in exploring such a conclusion. However, like I said, that may just have been me and upon reflection others may have felt differently about characters dilemmas and the resulting choices that were made. 

"He doesn't want to become dependent. You never know what might happen if you give in to that sort of thing."

So Mercy Street is a novel that needs quiet consideration. It's easy to read but not easy reading at times. There will be conflicting opinions given the perspective that a person is coming from. Evans remains quite neutral in her role as narrator which is exemplary given the hot topics under discussion. It's a thought provoking and a poignant tale set in modern day Australian suburbia. 

"The thought comes unbidden and he pauses before continuing. 'It's all give and take,' he says,'In the end, that's what life is."

This review is based on a complimentary copy from the publisher and provided through NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. The quoted material may have changed in the final release.

1 comment:

Mystica said...

I would like the setting of modern Australian suburbia. A bit different.