188. The Shape of Mercy

The Shape of Mercy by Susan Meissner

Pages: 305
Finished: Dec. 13, 2008
First Published: Sept, 2008
Genre: Fiction, Historical Fiction, Christian Fiction
Rating: 4/5
Reason for Reading: Received a Review Copy from the publisher.

First sentence:

I've heard the story countless times, how I grasped the delivering doctor's scrubs as he guided me into the Durrough family universe of opportunity and duty.

Comments: Lauren, a college student from a rich family, takes on a job as literary assistant to a lonely old woman, Abigail, who has a family heirloom, a 17th century diary written during the Salem witch trials. This has been in her family for centuries and Lauren is hired to make a translation in everyday language. As Lauren translates the diary she becomes emotionally attached to the young woman, Mercy Hayworth, who was tried and convicted as a witch.

The narrative switches between the present timeline and lives of the characters to entries from the journal as they are transcribed. On one level this is the story of Mercy (a fictional person) and the almost unbelievable true events that she dealt with in Salem 1692 and on another level it is the story of Lauren and Abigail as they come to terms with their own very difference prejudices that they have laid upon loves ones in their respective lives.

As I found the link to this book on the publisher's website I saw it listed as Christian Fiction. Don't let that make you have your own prejudice against whether you would read the book. As a Christian myself, I honestly didn't realize it was Christian Fiction until I saw it called so. The only religious aspect to the book, aside from the Salem witch trials, is that the characters believe in God and in passing the author mentions that they pray or go to church. While the theme of the book is a Christian one of not judging others that theme transcends Christianity to all walks of life.

I loved this book. It was a page-turner. I was enthralled with the diary entry parts of the books and the characters of Lauren and Abigail were full of depth and all the characters felt real to me including the minor ones. A well-written, absorbing, and heart-felt book. Recommended.


  1. I read this book a few months ago and quite enjoyed it as well. As a non-Christian myself, I was quite pleased that the Christian message wasn't over-the-top like it sometimes can be (the only reason I knew it was Christian was because I knew the division of Random House that published it was their Christian imprint). But you are definitely right - the message transcends to all walks of life. :)


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