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The Shape of Mercy [Paperback]

By Susan Meissner (Author)
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Item description for The Shape of Mercy by Susan Meissner...

Lauren breaks from family tradition and accepts a job from Abigail Boyles to transcribe a diary written by Marcy Boyles, allegedly killed during the Salem witch trials, but finds herself affected by the diary more than she expected.

Publishers Description
" "We understand what we want to understand."
Leaving a life of privilege to strike out on her own, Lauren Durough breaks with convention and her family's expectations by choosing a state college over Stanford and earning her own income over accepting her ample monthly allowance. She takes a part-time job from 83-year-old librarian Abigail Boyles, who asks Lauren to transcribe the journal entries of her ancestor Mercy Hayworth, a victim of the Salem witch trials.
Almost immediately, Lauren finds herself drawn to this girl who lived and died four centuries ago. As the fervor around the witch accusations increases, Mercy becomes trapped in the worldview of the day, unable to fight the overwhelming influence of snap judgments and superstition, and Lauren realizes that the secrets of Mercy's story extend beyond the pages of her diary, living on in the mysterious, embittered Abigail.
The strength of her affinity with Mercy forces Lauren to take a startling new look at her own life, including her relationships with Abigail, her college roommate, and a young man named Raul. But on the way to the truth, will Lauren find herself playing the helpless defendant or the misguided judge? Can she break free from her own perceptions and see who she really is?

From Publishers Weekly
Meissner's newest novel is potentially life-changing, the kind of inspirational fiction that prompts readers to call up old friends, lost loves or fallen-away family members to tell them that all is forgiven and that life is too short for holding grudges. Achingly romantic, the novel features the legacy of Mercy Haywortha young woman convicted during the Salem witch trialswhose words reach out from the past to forever transform the lives of two present-day women. These book loversAbigail Boyles, elderly, bitter and frail, and Lauren Lars Durough, wealthy, earnest and youngbecome unlikely friends, drawn together over the untimely death of Mercy, whose precious diary is all that remains of her too short life. And what a diary! Mercy's words not only beguile but help Abigail and Lars together face life's hardest struggles about where true meaning is found, which dreams are worth chasing and which only lead to emptiness, and why faith and hope are essential on life's difficult path. Meissner's prose is exquisite and she is a stunning storyteller. This is a novel to be shared with friends. (Sept. 16)Copyright 2008 Reed Business Information.

Awards and Recognitions
The Shape of Mercy by Susan Meissner has received the following awards and recognitions -
  • Rita Awards - 2009 Finalist - Novel category
  • Christian Book Award - 2009 Winner - Fiction category

Citations And Professional Reviews
The Shape of Mercy by Susan Meissner has been reviewed by professional book reviewers and journalists at the following establishments -
  • Publishers Weekly Best Books - 11/03/2008 page 32
  • CBA Retailers - 07/01/2008 page 66
  • Publishers Weekly - 07/07/2008 page 36
  • Christian Retailing - 08/11/2008 page 23
  • Romantic Times - 09/01/2008 page 63

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Item Specifications...

Studio: WaterBrook Press
Pages   307
Est. Packaging Dimensions:   Length: 0.75" Width: 5.5" Height: 8.25"
Weight:   0.6 lbs.
Binding  Softcover
Release Date   Sep 16, 2008
Publisher   WaterBrook Press
ISBN  1400074568  
ISBN13  9781400074563  

Availability  0 units.

More About Susan Meissner

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Award-winning writer Susan Meissner is a multi-published author, speaker and workshop leader with a background in community journalism. Her novels include The Shape of Mercy, named by Publishers Weekly as one of the Best Books of 2008. She is a pastor's wife and a mother of four. When she's not writing, Susan directs the Small Groups and Connection Ministries program at her San Diego church.

Susan Meissner was born in 1961.

Susan Meissner has published or released items in the following series...
  1. Men of Lancaster County

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Product Categories

1Books > Subjects > Literature & Fiction > General > Contemporary
2Books > Subjects > Religion & Spirituality > Christianity > Fiction & Poetry > Fiction
3Books > Subjects > Religion & Spirituality > Christianity > Fiction & Poetry > Fiction > General
4Books > Subjects > Literature & Fiction > Genre Fiction > Womens Fiction

Christian Product Categories
Books > Fiction > General Christian > General
Books > Fiction > General Christian > Contemporary

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Reviews - What do customers think about Shape Of Mercy?

Not sure who the intended audience is  Jan 6, 2010
I stay away from contemporary novels because almost no Christian authors can do them well -- they tend to overdo their characterizations and dialog to the point where I just want to tell everyone to take a tranquilizer and lie down for a while!

While there are parts of The Shape of Mercy where Susan Meissner does it well -- parts where I even agree with the reviewer who called her prose "exquisite" -- there are all too many passages where she falls into the above trap. For instance, when Lauren thinks that Abigail has lied to her about Mercy's fate. The only emotion this elicited from me was "You're making WAY too much of this! Get over it already!"

I'm really not sure who this book is intended for. The main themes of conflict with a roommate, angst over a new boyfriend, trying to adjust to parents' expectations and find one's place in the world, and learning not to judge people by superficialities are all themes most appropriate to a Young Adult audience. Had I known that I wouldn't have bought this book, since I am at least 25 years too old for a Young Adult novel.

However, I could never recommend this novel to any Young Adult because of its handling of the issue of suicide. At best, the book gives suicide a sympathetic treatment; at worst, it holds it up as an act of courage and mercy. There is enough problem with suicide among today's young people, they certainly don't need to be "encouraged" by reading a book that gives suicide by a teenager such a soft treatment.

Is this book intended for Christians? If so then the suicide thing is totally inappropriate. Actually, I'm very surprised that a Christian publisher would even publish such a book. Perhaps since most of the independent Christian publishers have been swallowed up by, and become mere imprints of, major secular publishing houses, they've let down their standards? I sure hope not.....

This book failed to touch any emotion in me, since its main themes as described above don't resonate with me. I couldn't find any common ground to identify with any of the three heroines, Lauren, Abigail, or Mercy. And the suicide issue was a serious enough one that I lowered my rating by one star based on that alone.

This was my first book by Susan Meissner, and will probably be my last.
CPID:Couldn't Put It Down!  Oct 5, 2009
Meissner had me on page one, and the weekend flew by. Her expert weaving of two stories ties together, and an intriguing event in America's history linked with a modern day woman took me away into both worlds. One of the best I've read in years. Well done, Susan.
Great read for women of all generations  Sep 8, 2009
A perfect blend of historical and contemporary fiction, The Shape of Mercy challenges readers to identify their own prejudices, snap judgments and relational weaknesses. It speaks loudly to the power of selfless love, even among conflicted hearts in less than ideal circumstances.

The Shape of Mercy is a Christian book, although it doesn't preach. Instead, it intertwines the lives of three women from different generations as each of them seeks to find out who she is, who she is willing to love, what's important to her and what type of legacy she wants to leave behind. Whether you prefer historical or contemporary fiction, this book will appeal to you.

I found myself thinking through the themes of this book long after I put it down. I'm a better person for knowing Lauren, Abigail and Mercy even though our time together was brief.
Salem Witch Trials brought current  Aug 30, 2009
A young woman in college answers an ad for a job that leads her to transcribing an old diary for a very old lady. The diary... from a young woman (Mercy) in the Salem Witch Trials in the 1690s. The old lady (Abigail)... a direct descendant of the diary writer. The young woman (Lauren)... drawn into this job and not willing to stop until it is finished.

An amazing story which I just loved, I have always been fascinated by the Salem Witch Trials and so I enjoyed digging deeper into that part of history. Just what would make a God-fearing group of people start believing that those that worked with, lived among and were friends of theirs were all of a sudden possessed by the devil? Shape of Mercy goes back and forth from the past to the present yet is easy to follow unlike some books that I have seen employ this technique before. In addition to a great story, Susan throws in some twists and turns that make it impossible to know what exactly will happen or just how it will all end. We see parts of the lives of all 3 women and I just cried and smiled and at the end I was gasping for breath. It was a bittersweet ending (I knew Mercy would die, her life happened hundreds of years before, but I still wasn't really prepared for it) but the journey to get there was so worth it. A beautiful story, expertly told by Susan Meissner - I loved it!
A book to keep forever  Aug 27, 2009
This book is a treasure that I will keep forever. I feel a true connection to the people in this book caught up in situations (Salem witch trial, etc) beyond their control. I have a new appreciation of how some people (as in this book) handle unthinkable wrongs very, very well.

Far from being a morbid book about hangings and death, it is a love story. In fact there are several love stories in this superb book. The story is beautifully crafted and well told.

I feel enriched by having read it.

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