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This is a review of the 2006 book 'Mercy' by Jodi Picoult, which is an author that I generally enjoy reading. The premise of this book sounded really interesting, a mercy killing, euthanasia case and the subsequent court proceedings with the outcome held until the last few page.
A man (Jamie) turns up in town and hands himself in to the chief of police telling him: "My wife is dead in that car and I killed her." He is immediately arrested and charged with murder and the next few weeks chart the case in the courts and the lives of the people in town who are connected with Jamie.
The book is set in Massachusetts, USA, in a town called Wheelock. The town has an interesting connection with a displaced Scottish highland clan who relocated to the town 250 years ago to escape the fighting and battles in their Scottish home town. The people celebrate their history and still have a clan Chief (Cameron), who is given the role according to birth right being handed down generation to generation.
Story's main characters
In addition to the major storyline of Jamie killing his wife Maggie, Cameron as the chief of police is also a cousin to Jamie, effectively Jamie has come to Wheelock in hope of a sympathetic viewing of his situation from leader Cameron. Cameron's wife Allie is also a main character, town florist and a bit of doormat to her husband. She would do anything for him and makes sure his life runs smoothly around him by cooking, cleaning and organising his home for him. Mia is a lady who mysteriously turns up in town and makes herself at home choosing a job in the florists and making herself indispensable. It happens at a time when Allie is busy trying to ensure the evidence is sound for helping Jamie win his court case so she is glad of the help but unaware that Mia is moving in on her beloved husband Cam. Cam is bewitched by Mia and falls head over heels with her, beginning an affair that he knows is wrong but feels so right to him. With Mia he experiences feelings beyond those he has ever felt with Allie. He knows the day will come in this small town when he will be caught out and discovered over his affair but he puts that to the back of his mind and enjoys the moment, carelessly leaving evidence of their illicit relationship all over their family home.
The relationship between Jamie and his wife is juxtaposed by Allie's relationship with Cam. Jamie loves Maggie more than she loves him and Allie loves Cam more than he loves her. The author says that no relationship is ever truly equal as 50 - 50 terms yet the partners demonstrate their love in such different ways. For Jamie is prepared to pay the ultimate price of killing his wife at her request. Maggie is dying from terminal cancer and no treatment is working. She has suffered enough and it is moving into her optic nerve and brain and she begs Jamie to finish it for her.
I really thought the concept of this book was excellent, awkward and uncomfortable with the Picoult typical court case and element of doubt in your mind as to which way the outcome will fall. The story of Cam and Mia's affair made for difficult reading as Cam seems able to justify his lusting for Mia in a detached way and is quick to return to his wife's bed after seeing to Mia. Maggie is blissfully aware, even dismissing it when she find's Mia's underwear in Cam's drawer.
I didn't enjoy this book as much as I thought I would although I did find it interesting how the author presented the scenario of Jamie's confession through to the court, judge and jury. The book was actually written in 1996 and not printed in the UK until 2006 in the UK but I didn't really notice that there was a ten year gap in the writing and publication. I would say it is not one of my favourite books by Picoult but I do seem to have this hit and miss feeling around her books, some of which I have really enjoyed so it hasn't put me off reading future books.
'Mercy' is another book written by Jodi Picoult and I had a feeling that it was slightly different to her other works. I did, however, really enjoy reading it.
Allie and Cam MacDonald live in a small town in Massachussets. She has always been madly in love with him and in this marriage, she obviously seems to be the one 'that loves more'. Cam has always been lead by duty and it isn't clear to me whether he loves Allie at all (or maybe I am a bit harsh on him).
Cameron is the police chief and one day, when his cousin Jamie walks in and says that his wife is dead and he is the one to kill her, Cam doesn't hesitate to put him under arrest. Jamie doesn't allow anybody touch his late wife's body and it actually seems that he had loved her.
Cam brings his cousin to trial but it isn't an easy case - it never is if it comes to mercy killing. On this matter his wife disagrees with him and talks to the people who were close with the couple. She finds out that they were a lovely couple, madly in love with each other and she seems to be seduced by the picture of such a great love.
In the meantime, Allie hires a new assistant, Mia at her floral shop. Surprisingly, she seems to like her husband. Will it lead to a shocking betrayal or will Mia leave? Will Cameron turn out to be a faithful husband?
It is a very good book about a moral dilemma such as mercy killing (which I personally find a very difficult and complexed issue). It also makes you think about the faithfulness in marriage. Is it possible to love someone so much that you would do anything for them, even if that means killing them? Suddenly the boundries don't seem to be clear anymore and I personally have no idea what I would do. As usual, Picoult makes you think, the plot has turnings when you would think everything is clear and the ending is utterly unexpected.
I am a big fan of Jodi Piccoult and have read many of her books, strangely this book did not grip me like all the others have.
The main characters are Allie and Cam Macdonald are introduced first, Piccoult successfully paints a wonderful picture of their perfect life which doesn't run so smoothly once the characters Maggie and Jamie Macdonald are introduced.
The storyline is based on Euthanasia battle, yet again Piccoult manages to write regarding important current issues in society in a sensitive manner. Although the book is fiction, it still makes the reason think seriously about for and against arguments re euthanasia. Although this a strong plot itself, it seems to be a little overshadows by the storylines of love, affairs and heartbreak! I think this is what I disliked about this book, usually Piccoult manages to intertwine other storylines fantastically inter the main, whereas this one she allows these weak storylines to take up most of the readers time.
I wouldn't want other fans of piccoult to be put off by this review, obviously it is my opinion and others may like the strong storylines of love. I don't feel this is one her best by far, although it still holds some of the same qualities Piccoult is good at.. easy to read and makes you think!
An increasingly familiar name to anyone who keeps even half an ear on literary matters, Jodi Picoult has published a number of novels that share a familiar format and focus on topical issues. In fact, Picoult is such a popular writer that I often feel I must be missing something when I reflect on my fairly negative feelings about her novels, so I decided to try one more to help me reach a fairer conclusion. I chose 'Mercy' because it covers a particularly interesting topical issue...and because it was on sale for 20p at the library! Would this be the novel that convinced me to change my opinion?
The central idea is an engaging one: Jamie MacDonald suffocates his adored wife, Maggie, to release her from a slow, painful death from terminal cancer. Euthanasia is an issue which should grip readers' interest and ensure that the novel rarely rests between reading sessions. Unfortunately, Jamie (and his story) is overshadowed by the supposed subplot in which a respected man in the community cheats on his rather doormat-like wife. The moral arc of the story is fairly obvious from even this very brief overview. Picoult encourages us to sympathise with Jamie, a broken man who finds that his decision has not led to any relief, and contrast his behaviour with his cousins'. This is such an obvious plot device that it can only add a limited depth to the story. Picoult does not seem to credit her readers with much intelligence and therefore continually feels it necessary to drive home the thematic link through redundant sentences like this: 'Jamie MacDonald had murdered his wife more gently than Cam had made love to his own' [after the reader has witnessed both events in the preceding pages].
Cam MacDonald has a loving, devoted wife, but he feels stifled by his ties to the town he was born in, which was founded by his great grandfathers. This is exacerbated by wife Allie's homely inclinations and fear of travelling. Restless and bored, Cam falls instantly 'in love' with newcomer Mia and conducts an increasingly reckless affair. For me, this simply didn't ring true. I'm not a believer in love-at-first-sight anyway (surely love is based on understanding, respect and appreciation of someone's personality?) but this was very clearly a case of lust-at-first-sight. Picoult tries to suggest that this is a deep and meaningful relationship through never-fully-substantiated references to a shared past, but the evidence of her narrative speaks for itself. The couple are intensely physically aware of each other from their first meeting, confess their love to each other on approximately their third meeting and can't make it through a scene together without tearing off each others clothes. If this book had a different cover, I might have mistaken parts of it for a Mills and Boon offering (albeit one of the less graphic ones). If we are to believe that Cam is a good man torn apart by love, then surely his grand love affair needed to have, um, love, as its base?
Speaking of scenes, the book does feel intensely dramatic. Chapters are usually broken up into short 'episodes' in which characters reflect or act in bursts of energy and activity, while the reader moves on, soap like, to the next instalment of someone else's story. Personally, I prefer a style that focuses more on one character and stays with then for the duration of a chapter. Presumably, this switching about is intended to help us feel a personal connection to each character, as we can learn about their family history and therefore deepen our understanding of their motives. Unfortunately, I felt that Picoult was once again showing her lack of trust in me as a reader by drawing me mini-maps of motives and connectivity. It's a bit like the nursery rhyme, except instead of piggies going to market we have little girls and boys: this little girl was neglected, so she's looking for love; this little boy feels the weight of the world on his shoulders, so he needs to escape...
Perhaps the most interesting facet of the relationship between Cam and his mistress is that they each reflect what the other has desperately desired, yet if they were to make a life together then neither would be what the other needed. For me, this was perhaps the most interesting idea in the book, suggesting that there are some dreams which can never be realised. Similarly, Jamie realises that his decision to kill his wife could never have had the ending they both imagined. Real life is something harsher, harder, in which compromises have to be made. Ultimately Picoult neither condones nor condemns their choices: she reveals that their choices have their basis in fantasy and tracks the consequences of ignoring reality.
Therefore, although the supposed main storyline is slightly overshadowed by the subplot, the overall topics are explored well: what would you do for someone you love? Are relationships ever equal? Picoult is a little clumsy in the way she draws attention to these issues, but they are certainly issues worth exploring. The pace of the action is quick, despite the sustained reflections of the characters, and the central trial, although left rather late in the novel, is interesting. Unlike in previous novels I had read by this author, Picoult does not dodge the central issue and the outcome is highly revealing of her own position. The conclusion of the relationship between Cam and his wife is slightly less satisfying since, like the development of his relationship with Mia, it seems rather hastily done. Picoult could, ultimately, tell us much less and show us much more to create a much more subtle and credible tale.
So, is it worth reading? If you're a fan of Picoult, then this is her standard fare and you're sure to enjoy it. If you're more interested in the issues surrounding euthanasia, then I'd recommend you look elsewhere, for the focus of this novel is not really the mercy killing itself, but how far beyond accepted social behaviour someone would go for a loved one. If you like well developed characters who act in psychologically convincing ways over a period of time, then I'd look elsewhere. If you're more interested in reading about clearly sketched characters in a fast moving plot, then you may well enjoy this novel. For me, I think this will be my last foray into Picoult's writings...until I once again convince myself that there must be more substance than I've yet found in such a best-selling author.
I find that in most cases with Jodi Picoult, her novels are very hit and miss. On the one hand you have The Pact and Salem Falls which are both very good in my opinion but then you have Nineteen Minutes and Plain Truth which I wish I had never of picked up. Sadly Mercy falls into the latter of the two groups. It's a shame because I thought the initial plot was one which really could get people thinking about it.
Mercy delves into the slightly taboo subject on euthanasia. How much do you love somebody enough for them to die. It more or less follows the life of a policeman and his wife-Allie and Cam McDonald. Whilst Cam sets out to make the streets a safer place, Allie works in a flower shop.
When Jamie McDonald, Cam's cousin, turns up at his police station with his dead wife in his arms it falls onto Cam to take him to trial. Coinciding on this, is when Mia turns up and ends up working in the florists with Allie. Maybe to her mistake for employing her.
There is a bit of family tree and history behind this story to do with Cam, and how he decided to become a member of the police in the first place. I found this bit a bit pointless as I couldn't completely see what relevance it had to the rest of the story. This happens in a few other places as well.
My main problem with this book is not about the actual topic, it's that I don't it was written altogether that well (hypocrite!). I don't know many people who have been in Allies situation true, but to just roll over and accept the affair just seems a bit bewildering to me. The interaction between Jamie and Allie also failed to get me interesting. Nor did Mia.
There just didn't seem to be any interesting aspects to any of the characters, no matter what crimes they had committed.
It has taken me a while to finish this book as it doesn't instantly draw you in like some of her others, however if you are a keen Jodi Picoult fan I would suggest you get it just to have a quick read.
If on the other hand you've never read one of her books, I wouldn't bother as to me it was a bit of a let down.
I am a huge fan of the american writer Jodi Picoult and find each of her novels fresh and original. Every time, she seems to come up with a successful formula in her storylines and her novel Mercy is no exception.
I was a bit worried when I first started reading the book though as I found it quite difficult to get into. I wondered whether I had been spoilt after reading such fantastic novels as Plain Truth or Nineteen Minutes. However, in true Picoult style she slowly reeled me in to the story and after about one hundred pages I was hooked!
Jodi Picoult is not afraid to tackle difficult topics and in Mercy she probably tackles the most difficult of them all - mercy killing. Jamie McDonald has killed his wife Maggie - but only because she asked him too. She had been suffering from cancer which has been slowly spreading and taking over her body and she had had enough. Because Jamie loved her so much he agreed to do what she asked - reluctantly!
Jamie's cousin is the chief of police in the small town of Wheelock and he has to arrest Jamie. This leads to a rift between him and his wife Allie because she firmly believes that Jamie was right to do what he did. As the story progresses we see how deeply Jamie's actions have affected them and things are not helped by the arrival in town of Mia and Allie helping with Jamie's defence. Mia is taken on by Allie as a florist but it's Cam who struggles to stop thinking about her daily. Allie's thoughts are all about Jamie's case. Smoewhere along the way they forget to think about each other!
There seem to be two main storylines in the novel. Firstly there is the relationship between Cam and Allie and all it's ups and downs. It makes the reader think carefully about the sanctity of marriage and what vows mean. Coupled with this is the picture of Jamie and Maggie's relationship and what they were compelled to do in the name of love. I found myself really absorbed in this story but unable to side with any of them - it was easy to understand all of their actions. As with many Picoult books the reader is often left wondering 'what would I do?'
The second storyline is the case that is built up against Jamie that results in an ensuing court case. This is depicted really well and is so gripping that you just do not know what the verdict is going to be. In fact she leaves it until virtually the last page before she lets you in on it! I really felt like I was on the edge of my seat as I was reading!
I really liked all of the main characters. They were all well developed and 'real' and I definitely started to care about what happened to them. Allie is probably the most interesting character and she is the one who changes the most through the course of the story. But then she did need to as she was a bit of a wimp at the beginning! I also found Jamie to be a very sympathetic but complex character. The way his torment and grief is depicted is really very moving but as he develops you realise there is an inner strength which helps him to stand by his actions.
There are some very poignant and sad descriptions of the nature of Maggie's cancer but more sad is how this affects both her and Jamie. This is not a novel you would want to read if you or anyone close were suffering from a similar illness as it might be a little too close tohome. Having said that though, this is not a sad story and there are times when it is incredibly uplifting. It's wonderful to read of the strong passion between Jamie and Maggie even though she is so unwell.
I sometimes feel that Jodi Picoult makes her books a bit too complex but that's not the case with this one. It is written as a straightforward narrative and because of this it's easy to read. She does get sidetracked sometimes by the Mcdonald's scottish history , and although this could be seen as mildly interesting, I just found it annoying because I just wanted to get on with the story.
I really enjoyed reading this book once I got into it and it had all the elements I could wish for - strong storylines, honest characters and a gripping climax. The detail of the trial is really excellent too and this really helps to build up the tension of the court room. It might not quite be Jodi Picoult's best but it certainly is an extremely good read - and thought provoking too!
My paperback version has 450 pages, is piblished by Hodder and can be bought on Amazon for £5.49.
As always with Jodi Picoult books, this story surrounds a crime and the subsequent courtcase but this is actually a relatively small part of this book so I wouldn't really class it as a courtroom drama or crime novel but most definitely a character driven drama. Whilst the main topic being explored is love and relationships, I find it to be far from a romance, so if you go into it expecting it to be one you could be disappointed. It's about love, yes, but it's more exploring the whole "it's not always rainbows and butterflies" aspect of things, and is about human nature and how people act and what drives us to do the things we do.
Whilst book covers can vary depending which edition you can buy, Jodi Picoult books seem to have been recently redone to all have covers with the same theme - a moral dilemma and then the same tag line each time; "What would you do?". On the front of the cover here is the dilemma; "The love of your life asks for your help to die. What would you do?" I think more often than not these simple phrases on the front of the book tell you all you need to know. It's enough to spark interest and start actually considering what you would do, which instantly involves you and engages you. It gives a snippit of the story without even having to turn over and read the blurb.
Usually this line will sum up the story almost in whole, but here I'm not entirely sure that's the case. The plot is around the story of what that line would suggest, but it's not essentially just about that and for me the bigger storyline was to do with characters around this central story, rather than the story itself. I think it's actually quite a shame as I was really intrigued with the premise of the story and would have liked it to focus more on this than it did, but that's not to say the book wasn't good.
The book is centred around the story of a man named Jamie McDonald, who kills his wife, who is dying from cancer and begs for his help. He chooses to go to a town where his cousin who he hasn't seen since childhood lives to do this, as his cousin is the Police Chief here. His cousin is Cameron McDonald who is restless and dissatisfied in his role and life, and not happy at Jamie's appearance into his life. Cameron's wife Allie is more supportive of Jamie as she thinks what he did was terribly romantic. On the same day Jamie pulls up at the police station to hand himself in, a woman named Mia walks into the flowershop Allie runs and subsequently ends up a large part of her life.
The book is all about love and yet it's not a romance. It explores what we will do for those we love, what we can do to those we love, what we will do for love, and the balance of love within a relationship. The book and everything that happens within it, centres around the theory that the love in any relationship is never equal; it's always 60%-40% or 70-30% or some other variation. There was always someone who wanted the other person first, or more, who made it happen and has spent all their time since ensuring the relationship worked. Unfortunately, the truth of this made it somewhat a depressing read for me at least. It rang very true, and if you think of any couple you know, it's almost instantly identifiable who loves who more. It's sad but true. I've been on both sides of this equation, and I guess it just made the book a bit depressing reading something you know is true but desperately don't want to be. It also explores the idea that this equation can change throughout different times and stages of relationships which I also find true.
The plot is good and of course the book doesn't just talk about this equation but everything that happens within in it, from Jamie's relationship with his now late wife, to Cameron's relationship with Allie, can all relate back to it.
Jodi Picoult's books always are about a topic that are something people don't necessarily want to think about and tend to prefer to stick their head in the sand about and they make you confront this issue and think about it. If you look at the subjects of her novels; school shootings, child abduction, suicide, rape, abuse, murder etc then you get the idea. They should be an uncomfortable read and at parts are but usually are done so well that they never feel tactless but never feel to be treading on egg shells to be polictially correct - they always feel real. Now the thing is here, the thing it is supposedly making you think about, is in essence Euthanisia, which would be a controversial topic itself, but I found the thing it made me think about and confront was that balance of love within a relationship, and I actually found this harder to confront than all those other topics she has covered, perhaps because I have direct experience of it whereas I can still keep myself somewhat distanced from the other topics.
It's good that it does make you think and perhaps could help a lot of people stop and think about their own relationships although this can be a hard thing to do.
The book is, actually quite a depressing read. It's the most depressing Jodi Picoult book I've read, which may sound odd considering the subject matters. It had me in floods of tears, not just the odd tear escaping the eye, at parts of it. I had taken it on holiday as I found in the past Jodi Picoult books, while thoroughly engrossing and entertaining weren't depressing reads, obviously they aren't light hearted reads but they normally weren't as dark as I found this to be. Be warned, you may look a bit daft crying your eyes out around the pool!
That said I don't mean to sound like I didn't like this book. I did! I know,I know, enjoying something depressing is a little odd, but it was a really great read as the plot was great, as was the reality to the characters and the subject matter, and it was well written and flowed well and moved along with just the right pacing.
The characters, as usual with Jodi Picoult books are one of the things that really set it apart from other books. Yes the plot is unique and somewhat controversial, but it's the character's that really bring the issue to life and make you care so much about what is happening as they are so well written it is so hard to remember that they aren't real and it's impossible not to empathies and find understanding in a lot of their actions. This is one of Jodi Picoult's earlier books and I've found with more recent works that you can find some degree of understanding in almost everyone's actions even if you don't agree with the actions themselves. Here that isn't so prevalent, with some characters doing things that just make you hate the character, rather than be able to feel understanding towards them.
It's impossible to not feel strongly about the character's here which is perhaps what makes is such an emotional read. There are character's you will most probably despise, and character's you will love, and most probably character's you will relate too. I'd much rather it have this blend than have character's who I didn't feel anything at all about. The fact that you feel so strongly towards the characters, be it in a positive or negative manner, is so much more engaging and compelling and involves you as a reader so much more.
As always I of course don't want to say much about the ending for obvious reasons but as for whether it was satisfactory or not is debatable. When reading it I instantly felt quite disappointed and let down as a lot of people who've read it have, and wished I could almost re write the ending to give the conclusion I wanted. After further thought on it though, I felt whilst it wasn't perhaps the ending I would have pushed for if I had any choice in the matter, it was actually quite a wise ending and again is something that makes you think for quite sometime after it, so I guess in some senses it was the perfect ending, just not the one I'd initially hoped for.
This was far from a fun read and I actually in some senses found it difficult to read. I feel quite contradictary as in one sense it was an easy read; it flowed well, it held my interest, I got through the story I no time as I constantly wanted to read more. However, in the other sense, it was really difficult because it was a depressing read and actually sometimes went as far as leaving me in a bad mood after reading it! I think this only goes to show how much her books can touch and affect you though.
The book is definitely one to make you think and reflect and one that will stay with me a long time. This is all due to how well the character's are written, they are so well developed.
There was one aspect of the story I wasn't keen on, which was it had elements of Scottish history in it and flashback scenes involving this. I felt they didn't serve the story at all and actually found them to be really boring and found myself drifting off whilst reading them. I have never been bored reading any of Jodi Picoult's books before and these were only a small part but I felt they shouldn't of been included as they were quite boring and the story didn't really require them.
I don't think the book would be offensive as such to anyone but it could be difficult for some people to read, depending on their own personal experiences of love and relationships, it's the sort of thing that could hit a nerve and be hard to accept as the truth.
I think the book would appeal to anyone who has enjoyed any other Jodi Picoult book's or for anyone who likes a good character driven drama or for anyone interested in a not so "lovey-dovey" look at love and relationships but a more realistic take.
After really enjoying the last 2 Jodi Picoult books I thought I was guaranteed a good read with Mercy.
The book focuses on the life of Cameron and Allie MacDonald, Cameron is a police chief in the town of Wheelock and also the clan chief, which is a titled passed down through the generations and more of an honour than a real responsibility. Allie owns a flower shop and adores her husband to the point of making you feel sick at times.
Jamie MacDonald a cousin of Cameron pulls up to the police station and admits to killing his wife, she is in his truck and this is where the real story begins.
Why did Jamie kill his wife whom he loved so much? Why did he travel to Wheelock to do it? Who is this new stranger in the town who befriends Cam and Allie?
I have to say that I really didn't enjoy reading this book. I never really felt any connection to the characters, and a few times I did think about just not finishing the book (I hate to not know the ending, no matter how bad a book is).
Some of the language used was unusual. I consider myself a relatively intelligent person and I found myself reaching for the dictionary on a few occasions as she used words that are not really common, this made me feel like she was trying to prove that she was smarter than her readers.
All in all the story is quite interesting, the characters are just not interesting and I found myself not really caring what happened to them next. The book is part love story, part criminal investigation, part court room drama and seems to do none of these areas any great favour.
The story seems to run at a very slow pace, it took me almost a month to read as I couldn't muster any enthusiasm for it, just once I was hoping for something exciting to happen so I could rush through a few chapters in anticipation, but alas, no such luck.
I would definitely not recommend this book if you have never read a Picoult book before as I feel it could put you off of some of her better work.
Paper back £6.99
Publisher by Hodder
Allie MacDonald and her husband, the police chief - Cam MacDonald - live in a lovely town. Their marriage is a happy one if not for all of Allie's efforts going into keeping Cam happy, not because he is an unreasonable man but because she loves with every fibre in her body.
On a regular morning for them however, Jamie MacDonald, a cousin who had not really been close to Cam at all, turned up at the police station with his dead wife in their car claiming to be the one to have killed her. He is distraught and won't let anyone touch her body.
It is Cam's job to bring him to trial for the killing of his wife, although things are never that easy when it is a case of a mercy killing. His wife was riddled with cancer and she was going to die an even more painful death than the life she was trying to live and she had asked Jamie to kill her. Trouble is - where is the proof?
I have read and enjoyed lots of other Picoult books before this one and I was excited to start this, expecting to be lost in the story immediately, however it took me a few days to really get into it and I contemplated giving up after a couple of chapters as I didn't get an immediate connection with the story.
There is a lot of talk about Scottish clans and Scots vs. English history, and I found this really boring to read about. Some of it was associated with the story, like Cam's family history and how he ended being chief of police in Wheelock and other family background stories were needed as well to help us realise the way the family had been brought up over the generations, however a lot of it left me glazed over and bored and this was new from a Jodi Picoult book for me.
There were really two stories running side by side through this novel and it was not the euthanasia story line that grabbed me. Whilst this was interesting to read about in parts, there didn't really seem to be anything that really caught my sympathy for the characters. Jamie MacDonald, the husband who killed his wife, just made me think he was too arrogant in his pure love for his wife. I couldn't imagine his character doing what he did, or doing it for the right reasons. I didn't dislike him but found him a bit false and ultimately chapters about the trial were read simply to get onto the next portion of the story I liked.
The other story flowing through and intertwined was one of extra marital affairs. The people involved in this, Cam and Allie, were more believable and I could understand why and how things progressed the way they did, although I got really annoyed with Allie's acceptance and the way she dealt with it. I guess she took the grown up route in a way, except for the revenge she took in the very first chapter of the book, but other than that she seemed to be a sexually powerful woman, who was happy to be trodden on and have every other part of her personality squashed.
The two story lines eventually merge into one but in the meantime I felt events were only occurring to make something in the other part fit in better. I was disappointed with this book by Picoult. I read it without too much trouble once I had settled into the beginning but it didn't turn in to a page turner for me like her other novels have and I would certainly not recommend it as a first Picoult read. If you have read and enjoyed her other works then this may still be enjoyable for you but I found it too waffley in parts and unbelievable in others.
Available from all good book sellers and Amazon but I got mine from Bookhopper.co.uk - a book swapping site and very good one too. x
In The Name Of Love.
I've read a few book reviews on dooyoo about Jodi Picoult's novels and when I saw this one in my favourite second-hand bookshop I decided to buy it. I know little about the author, and to be honest I find her website confusing with lots about forthcoming book tours and very little about the author and the themes she handles in her books. She's an American author and writes prolifically, with about fourteen books to her name. From reviews and some looking at her website, she writes about relationships, family and friends, love and loss, but mainly about those topics we prefer not to think about. I gather that she also writes about court cases to do with ethical choices, something that needs handling carefully.
In Mercy she explores the theme of mercy killing, or euthanasia, with a delicate touch that shouldn't get readers too biased as to her own beliefs. In fact I was left wondering quite what personal stance she had on this often hotly debated topic. I couldn't see readers taking sides based on the story, but maybe that's because it's the first book that I've read of hers.
<< The Plot >>
N.B. Contains a small plot-spoiler, essential to my review.
The small town of Wheelock, Massachusetts has been home for several centuries to the descendants of the clan McDonald, following their mass exodus from Scotland after the clan was almost wiped out in the massacre by the Campbell's. In many ways it still keeps to the ancient traditions, so it's no surprise that Cameron McDonald, the direct descendant of the chieftain that made the exodus possible, is the town Police Chief. His wife Allie, worships him in the same way that another man worships his own wife and has the courage to carry out her wishes in a way that will plunge the small community into taking sides.
For Jamie McDonald, the long-lost cousin of Cameron, has committed murder in the name of love. His wife, Maggie, dying of untreatable cancer, begs Jamie to end her suffering and Jamie chooses the town where his cousin rules almost like a clan leader to carry out Maggie's wishes by smothering her with a pillow, her own choice of assisted suicide.
He then places himself in the hands of his cousin Cameron, but there is no mercy for him there. Cameron has long resented his official role as Police chief and the unspoken role of Clan Chieftain. He books Jamie for Murder one and locks him up, to the surprise and horror of his gentle wife, Allie, who believes that Jamie has already suffered enough.
On the same day that Jamie commits his "crime", another person enters town, immediately placing herself in the private lives of Cameron and Allie. For Mia is a talented florist and Allie runs a small, but busy Florist's shop.
While Cam is increasingly hostile to Jamie, he takes a lot of interest in Mia, leading to the inevitable affair, while Allie is busy taking both Mia and Jamie under her wing. The court case is pending, the townspeople are divided and in the meantime the outcome of the trial is by no means a foregone conclusion. Jamie could end up being convicted of Murder one. Allie could lose more than just a new-found cousin and a friend.
Despite what should be a great plot, the book is mainly character driven and in this lies it's weakness. Not that the characters are at fault, but by their very natures they undermine the true theme of the book.
Cameron comes across as a man who puts duty before anything else, including his wife and his cousin. He shows no empathy at all with Jamie and goes out of his way to avoid him. Personally I found his character very weak and I couldn't drag up an ounce of sympathy with him at all.
Allie seems a much more lovable character on the surface of things. However, I found her childlike devotion to her husband to be sickly and felt like giving her a good shake. Yes, she does go against the grain by helping Jamie with his defence, but I felt this was part of her nature, the need to be useful to other people. Frankly I found it unbelievable that she would take on Mia as her assistant and even put this stranger up in her own home without knowing anything about her.
Mia herself is an enigma. She appears from nowhere with a few possessions and her cat in her duffel bag. A rootless wanderer who is looking for something she doesn't understand for herself.
Jamie's character was very underdeveloped. For a man that loves his wife enough to agree to kill her I expected more about his thoughts and feelings. But these only came out in conversations and left me feeling that I didn't really know him at all.
There are some other great character sketches as well, with the honour of the hero in my mind going to Graham McPhee, the defence lawyer.
In fact I can't fault Picoult for her characters, but I do have some doubts about their actions in the book.
Picoult writes well with some great descriptions of both her characters and the surrounding countryside that often forge such characters. Her prose shows confidence and a deft handling of both setting the scene and engaging her characters in realistic dialogue. The court scenes are obviously something she normally does to great effect and I found the balance of the action and the courtroom drama to be just right. So why did I feel so let down when the book ended?
<< My Thoughts.>>
This book was first published in the UK in the year 2006,but the copyright is dated 1996. Did the author feel that it wasn't the right time to publish, or is this one of her books that she felt needed time to mature? This should have been a great book given the theme of mercy killing. Even the relationship side of it was essential to the plot, so where did it fall down in my opinion?
Somehow I couldn't quite connect with any of the characters and that can spoil a book completely for me. I "liked" some of the characters, but I'm sorry, I didn't believe in them.
Mia's appearance was just too contrived and left me feeling cheated. She had exactly the background to appeal to Cam and wonder of wonders, she was also the kind of person that Allie would connect with.
Jamie should have made my heart melt, but Picoult didn't give him any exposure except for the deathbed chapter and some interaction with Allie. It's Jamie that poses the question on which the book seems to teeter, rather than balance. He puts forward the Hypothesis that in any relationship there is one partner that loves more than the other.
Maybe Picoult tried too hard to prove this, rather than concentrate on the main issue.
Still, it was cleverly plotted and I did manage to get through it with ease. I am unsure how to grade it though.
I suspect that many women would love this book and I don't feel it would appeal to men that much. I also have to think of the author's fans, given that they are more used to her writing.
Finally, there's the element of chance. It's very possible that this isn't up to her normal standards. On that I ask for any comments on my analysis.
Price Comparisons are really letting me down lately. I take Amazon as the base price, but I've found it can change from day to day. Mercy is priced at £4 new today and 1p used plus postage. Mine was a second-hand buy but the copy is exactly like the picture on dooyoo and retails at £6.99.
Thanks, as always for reading.
©Lisa Fuller 29th April 2008.
I love a good book, one that I can really get stuck into and can't put down forget the housework and just escape. I usually don't get the luxury of doing this unless we are on holiday but at the moment I am stuck indoors due to an operation on my foot and am confined to the sofa! So I sent the other half out shopping (culture shock for him!) and asked him to pick me up a book, I was initially a bit worried what he would bring back I had visions of the newest SAS survival manual but to my surprise he bought back this one, so did I get stuck into it?
Jodi Picoult was born and raised in Long island in America in what she calls a very happy and uneventful childhood, which to me is quite refreshing. You hear a lot about people who have such trauma in their life and they contribute this to their writing but it is interesting to see how someone who hasn't got that can still write so well and cover a large range of thought provoking topics. She currently lives in New Hampshire with her husband and three children.
I actually thought this was one of her new offerings and was surprised to find out that this was first published in 1996 in America.
The other half got this from Sainsbury's for £4.99 but I am sure you could get it cheaper if you shopped around.
The actual storyline was one that I was interested in and surrounds the whole issue of Euthanasia, the main story centres around Jamie Macdonald who out of pure love and commitment kills his wife Maggie who is riddled with cancer. He readily admits this and expects to be punished; the problem is he decides to carry out the act away from their home and in the county where his cousin Cameron MacDonald was the Chief of Police. This then draws him and his devoting wife Allie into the whole circus, and he has to wrestle with his loyalties between being the Chief of Police and helping the cousin he has never met. Because in England as in America euthanasia is illegal the only way Jamie can get off is by being proven to be insane at the time of the act.
The actual Euthanasia story was handled well and you start to realize that the whole issue is not as cut and dried as people think, as one of Maggie's friends pointed out that even though Maggie had asked Jamie to do this last thing for her Maggie didn't actually think about the consequences for him and for that she was very angry with Maggie and went as far to say she was selfish. You get a lot of background information on Jamie and Maggie's relationship and how the whole situation arose.
The sideline story revolves around Cameron MacDonald and his wife Allie, you get the idea from the beginning how Cameron really didn't want to become the Chief of Police and felt duty bound when his father died. He really wanted to travel and not become part of family tradition, you hear a lot of the whole Scottish tradition that surrounds the whole family and how they came from Scotland to America and of the old clan. The last thing he wanted was a cousin who he had never met turning up in his county to be accused of murder.
The other person in all this is Allie Cameron's wife and how she strives to please Cameron; she seems to only live for him and looks for any sign of affection but suddenly finds herself questioning their whole relationship and starts to side with Jamie and understands his reasons for what he did. She also finds that they have a lot in common especially when Jamie tells her that "in a relationship there is always one who loves more" She starts to understand that this applies to both her and Jamie.
Another person who is worth a mention is Mia a bit of a mysterious woman who turns up in the town around the same time and befriends Allie but turns Cameron's head as she seems to be all the things he would dearly love to be, Free! I can't say too much about her as she does come into the story quite a bit.
DID I ENJOY IT?
Well I initially thought the other half was trying to tell me something when he bought me this; I mean I have only had a foot operation! But as I have said I am interested in this subject and it does get you thinking could I do it or do I feel its right?
I felt the subject was well handled and sympathetic, it was rather one sided and focused a lot on feeling sorry for Jamie, the court case ending was not as long as the authors usual books and I felt that was a shame as I would of liked more arguments and court room action. I actually found myself liking Jamie and was routing for him and his reasons, but I did think that the other story regarding Cameron and Allie took up more of the book than the main story. I found Cameron a bit of a miserable so and so really and I wanted to scream at Allie to stop being such a bloody doormat!
The Scottish theme that ran through it was a bit boring after a while and to me just felt a bit pointless and unrealistic having lived with a scots man for 12 years and it just felt a bit stereotypical (they're not all tight buggers!) There were parts of the story that I felt just drifted off and could have been explain or explored more and mainly this is about Mia, I didn't really get to know as much as I would like about her or why she is like she is.
The relationship that fascinated me the most was Jamie and Maggie's and this bit was well written and in-depth and I would of rather read more about this and the whole subject than Cameron and Allie's domestics.
All in all the book was ok but not the best I have read from this author, it does show that this was her earlier work and maybe the research wasn't available to her. The writing style was good and the story did flow but also seemed to jump about in places, she does show that she has a good handle on peoples emotions and this came across really well, it also shows that even at the beginning of her writing career she wasn't afraid to tackle sensitive and thought provoking issues.
Property of madmum71 & lisa8871
Cameron MacDonald has spent his life guided by duty. As the police chief of a small Massachusetts town that has been home to generations of his Scottish clan, he is bound to the town's residents by blood and honor. Yet when his cousin Jamie arrives at the police station with the body of his wife and the bald confession that he's killed her, Cam immediately places him under arrest. The situation isn't as clear to Cam's wife, Allie. While she is devoted to her husband, she finds herself siding against Cam, seduced by the picture James paints of a man so in love with a woman that he'd grant all her wishes! even the one that meant taking her life. Into this charged atmosphere drifts Mia, a new assistant at Allie's floral shop, for whom Cam feels an instant and inexplicable attraction. While he aids the prosecution in preparing the case against Jamie, who killed his terminally ill wife out of mercy, Cam finds himself betraying his own wife.