Fiction Short Take: Mercury – Margot Livesey

Indie favorite Livesey tries her hand at suspense in this domestic drama about the toll of secrets and obsession in a marriage. Lauded by contemporaries as diverse as Dennis Lehane, Lily King, Claire Messud and Jennifer Egan, Livesey again does a nice job at dissecting human psychology.

“[A] fiercely intelligent exploration of the ways blindness—to ourselves, others, and the power of passion and grief—can divide and transform us. After his father dies of Parkinson’s, optometrist Donald Stevenson’s reserve deepens into what Viv, his wife of nine years, likens to the airless impenetrability of an astronaut’s suit. Viv’s teenage dreams of equestrian competition resurface when Mercury, an exceptionally promising thoroughbred, comes to board….Facing their resistance to her growing obsession and increasingly distanced from Donald, Viv conceals the time and money she lavishes on the horse….Seen primarily from Donald’s muffled, sometimes pedantic perspective, the novel unfolds patiently, through a chain of small and mostly well-intentioned deceptions that nevertheless yield catastrophe. Livesey’s skillful play with the title’s many meanings—trickster god of speed, diagnostic aid, minor planet, deadly poison—gives her narrative a rich imagery that interweaves seamlessly with its textured evocation of everyday life.”
Publishers Weekly

 [A] probing study of the way character shapes our destinies.… Livesey, a Scottish transplant whose brilliant novels are underknown in her adopted country…. A sharply sketched supporting cast adds to the depth and cumulative power… yet more evidence of Livesey’s formidable gifts.”
Kirkus (starred review)

“Consuming…. Explores themes of honesty and understanding by showing the impact that obsessions-grief, rapacity-can have on a marriage.”
   — New Yorker

Mercury (9780062437501) by Margot Livesey. $26.99 hardcover. 9/27/16 on sale.

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