Saturday, June 6, 2009

The Shape of Mercy, by Susan Meissner

The Shape of Mercy, by Susan Meissner, is one of the best books I've read in a long time. Meissner's protagonist, Lauren Durough, is from a wealthy family, which was one of the unique features of this story. The glimpses into Lauren’s privileged home life fascinated me.

Although raised with servants in attendance, Lauren yearns to be seen as an ordinary person, so she shuns a costly private college in favor of a state school. In a further endeavor to break away from her family's expectations, she takes a part-time job transcribing a 300-year-old journal for an elderly woman. The diary is an original account written by one of the young women accused during the Salem witch trials.

As the thought-provoking novel continues, Lauren is drawn ever more deeply into the story of Mercy Hayworth, the girl unjustly accused of witchcraft. The Shape of Mercy's theme is the harm done to ourselves and others by making judgments based solely on our own frame of reference. Lauren comes face-to-face with uncomfortable truths about herself as she tries to learn what happened to Mercy.

Meissner has done a masterful job of telling a story that unites the lives of two women born centuries apart. At the same time, she gave me an opportunity to consider parallels between Lauren's discoveries and my own tendencies to make snap judgments about people. The Shape of Mercy is a fantastic story on many levels. I highly recommend it.

Please leave a comment to have your name entered in the June 15th drawing for bound arc of The Shape of Mercy, donated by Susan Meissner. Be sure to include your email address in the comment so I’ll be able to contact you if you win.


  1. I'm with you, Ann--fabulous book! And I think you're right on with your analysis of the story.

    I already have a copy so don't include me in the contest.



  2. Ann, this is a really good review of The Shape of Mercy. I absolutely agree with you that this was a wonderful book. I read it last fall and really enjoyed it. Please enter my name in the drawing for the ARC. Thank you very much.

  3. I really like your review, knowing this book is about the Salem witch trials. I hated history classes, but I love to learn through novels. It brings history to life!

  4. Yes, I agree with you. Your review was excellent, and, as I already stated on my own blog, this is one of the best books I've read in the last few years.
    ~Cecelia Dowdy~

  5. it is one of the best books I read all year! martha(at)lclink(dot)com

  6. Oops, so yes, I love your review! i agree with it!

  7. Wonderful review Ann. I would definitely love to win a copy.


  8. This sounds like such a wonderful read.i have not had the chance to read it and would love a chance to win it thanks God bless.

  9. This sounds like a book I would love to read. I helped my daughter do research on the Salem Witch Trials for College paper. It was interesting and I learned more than I knew about people being accused falsely. I can relate as I met a girl in Texas at my church when I was there who had grown up in a home with a MOm who was a witch and was going to offer her for sacrifice when she reached a certain age. But her Aunt helped her get away from there and she got saved but people were afraid to be her friend.
    jrs362(at)hotmail(dot) com
    Jane Squires

  10. Wow, Jane, what a story. I pray the girl you knew was able to have a good life after all that.