The Quality of Mercy
by Unsworth, Barry
From Booklist, Copyright (c) American Library Association. Used with permission.
*Starred Review* Highly regarded historical novelist Unsworth's new novel is the long-awaited sequel to his Booker Prize-winning Sacred Hunger (1992). In that novel, we saw the sailors of a slave ship bound for the New World mutiny when some of the crew tossed live humans overboard, and the mutineers took refuge in Florida, where they lived for many years until they were tracked down by the ship owner's son and were brought to England for trial. The year now is 1767, and Unsworth, true to form, shows appreciation for the mind-sets and physical features of life in the past but, at the same time, supports his interest in commonly held societal ideas of the time as well as new ones surfacing in the law. Thematically, his new novel is about the downtrodden versus those in positions of overlordship; specifically, he draws our interest to a London courtroom as the mutineers from the previous novel are brought to trial, and, with ingenuity, he connects that situation to coal-mine activity in the north of England as emerging ideas of property and personal rights are played out in that dark, brutal world. The way this talented author elaborates the plot will ensure that readers will be eager to follow its challenging course.--Hooper, Brad Copyright 2010 Booklist
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