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A Matter of Mercy
by Lynne Hugo

Published: 2014-08-01
Paperback : 278 pages
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Caroline Marcum thought she'd escaped the great mistake of her life by leaving Wellfleet harbor, but is forced to face it when she returns, reluctantly, to care for her dying mother. Ridley Neal put his past-and his prison term-behind him to return home to take over his father's oyster ...
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Introduction

Caroline Marcum thought she'd escaped the great mistake of her life by leaving Wellfleet harbor, but is forced to face it when she returns, reluctantly, to care for her dying mother. Ridley Neal put his past-and his prison term-behind him to return home to take over his father's oyster and clam beds. Casual acquaintances long ago, when a nor'easter hits the coast, Rid and Caroline's lives intersect once again. When Rid and two other sea farmers are sued by the wealthy owners of vacation homes who want to shut them down, and Caroline accidentally meets the person she most wronged, they each must learn to trust-and love. Inspired by a 1996 lawsuit, A Matter of Mercy is a riveting novel about treasuring the traditional way of life in the shallows of beautiful Cape Cod bay by discovering where forgiveness ends and where it begins.

Editorial Review

No editorial review at this time.

Excerpt

~Chapter 1 ~

The dune fence between their house and the beach still tilted toward the water. It had always seemed an invitation to Caroline, like a gesturing hand, and as a child she’d been secretly glad when her father’s work to straighten it didn’t last. It had pointed to shiny afternoons at the edge of the shore with her mother. Later it pointed the way for her friends, teenagers gathering on summer nights around a driftwood fire to laugh and drink beer a boy had swiped from his parents. Recently though, since she’d come back, she’d imagined it pointed to an escape route. If she just stuck to the sand and walked west out of Wellfleet, she’d cross the bay beaches of Truro and end up in Provincetown. The passenger ferries to Boston left from the wharf there. ... view entire excerpt...

Discussion Questions

1. Do you find Caroline likable? Does your opinion of her change through the course of the novel? What about Rid?

2. One of the reasons Rid kept walking after his first night with Caroline was that he didn’t have any idea how he was “supposed” to respond. He muses to himself—what difference was it supposed to make that the child Caroline hit was deformed? Was it significant? If so, how and why?

3. What was your reaction to Terry? Were you sympathetic to John’s moving on? In Terry’s place, would you have confronted Caroline immediately instead of calling Boo or done the same thing?

4. How did you feel about the way Eleanor’s death was portrayed?

5. Did you agree with Tomas’ direction to Rid regarding not using a cell phone to call help for Mario when the three partners were out celebrating on Great Island ? Why or why not?

6. Although the novel is narrated from “close” or “tight” third person points of view, very frequently the reader knows a good deal more than the character in whose point of view the story is being told at any given time. One advance reviewer said he sometimes wanted to shake a character for his or her misjudgments. Did you have that reaction?

7. How do you see the setting as affecting the primary characters in A Matter of Mercy? Has the geography and culture of where you’re from affected you as deeply?

8. Did you agree with Rid or with Caroline about not pressing charges? Why?

9. There’s an article from The Cape Cod Times posted on www.LynneHugo.com (under Resources for Readers) that explains what happened after the close of the book between the owners of the shallows out to the low water mark and the upland home owners. What is your reaction to the behavior of the aquaculturists? Do you see anyone’s behavior—either the person originally bringing suit, or now, the aquaculturists, as selfish? Vengeful? Fair and right?

10. Mercy is an issue that’s variously raised in the book, both the gift of it and the withholding of it. Did this bring to mind any instances in your own life when you’ve either received or been denied mercy—or witnessed either?

Notes From the Author to the Bookclub

“Lynne Hugo’s novel A MATTER OF MERCY is full of intrigue and heart, as gritty as the inside of a clamshell and tender as a beach sunset. You won’t soon forget this story of two Cape Cod residents struggling against the tides for mercy and reaching out for each other despite the dark currents of their own pasts.” ~ Jenna Blum, New York Times and internationally bestselling author of THOSE WHO SAVE US, THE STORMCHASERS, and “The Lucky One” in GRAND CENTRAL.

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Member Reviews

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by Jenngbaker (see profile) 03/05/19

 
  "A Matter of Mercy"by nbaker (see profile) 08/30/17

Mercy is an act of forgiveness. This was a beautiful story of one’s woman quest to receive forgiveness for an act committed years ago – an act for which she paid time in prison but has ... (read more)

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