Jacob is an Anglo-Dutch trader and adventurer, with a smallholding in the harsh North. Despite his distaste for dealing in ‘Flesh’, he takes a small slave girl in part payment for a bad debt.

This is Florens, ‘with the hands of a slave and the feet of a Portuguese lady’, who can read and write and might be useful on his farm. Florens is hungry for love, at first from the older servant woman at her new master’s house; but later, when she’s 16 from the handsome blacksmith, an African, never enslaved who comes riding into their lives.

 A Mercy reveals what lies under the surface of slavery, but at its heart, it is the disturbing story of a mother and a daughter in a violent ad-hoc world – a world where acts of mercy, like everything else, have unforeseen consequences.

First comment … ‘This should be renamed A Misery’.

That just about summed up our club’s view of Toni Morrison’s new novel. There were few of us who found anything but heartache, despair and injustice in the lives of Morrison’s characters, and felt that they had heard it all before, the wretchedness of slavery.

But several of us did try and struggle to the other side of this book and found something very powerful. If you’re interested in reading more, visit Over the Fence and read our full review.