Book Club Reflections
This work of historical fiction is based on the storm of December 24th, 1617, just off the coast of Vardo, Norway. The storm moved in so quickly that it caused the drowning of 40 fishermen in the span of minutes, causing fear, speculation, and rumours that the storm had been conjured.
The Mercies is a fictional account of the women who were left to fend for themselves, deal with their all-consuming grief, and figure out how to survive, even if it meant taking on the jobs and responsibilities that were traditionally held by the men.
Enter the influence of King James VI with his treatise on how to “spot, prove, and kill a witch” and combine that with the fear of the “conjured” storm… and even the isolated island of Vardo wasn’t safe from accusations and witch trials.
The Mercies has all the makings of a story we love, it’s: beautifully written, set in a unique time period, a female-centered journey, and has an unpredictable ending. So with all of these “assets” this book did not disappoint!
For a story set in the early 1600s Millwood Hargrave’s message feels intentional and timely. The treatment of women and the Indigenous Sami community, coupled with the fear and persecution of “otherness” gave us pause; unfortunately, there were far too many similarities to our world today.
Despite the sadness of this story, there is an immense amount of strength and resilience in these characters. A definite recommendation for any book club!
BTW, for some of us, it might even end up on our list as one of our favourite books of the year! 🥰
“Many of them seem past caring what is true or not, only desperate for some reason, some order to the rearrangement of their lives, even if it is brought about by a lie.”
“This story is about people, and how they lived; before why and how they died became what defined them.”