> Skip to content
About the book
  • Published: 1 July 2010
  • ISBN: 9781407016597
  • Imprint: Vintage Digital
  • Format: EBook
  • Pages: 176

A Mercy

Formats & editions

Nobel Prize-winning author of Beloved, Toni Morrison is one of the finest novelists of our times.

'A beautiful and important book' The Times

On the day that Jacob, an Anglo-Dutch trader, agrees to accept a slave in lieu of payment for a debt from a plantation owner, little Florens's life changes irrevocably.

With her keen intelligence and passion for wearing the cast-off shoes of her mistress, Florens has never blurred into the background and now at the age of eight she is uprooted from her family to begin a new life with a new master. She ends up part of Jacob's household, along with his wife Rebekka, Lina their Native American servant, and the enigmatic Sorrow who was rescued from a shipwreck.

Together these women face the trials of their harsh environment as Jacob attempts to carve out a place for himself in the brutally unforgiving landscape of North America in the seventeenth century.

'Toni Morrison is the greatest chronicler of the American experience that we have ever known' Tayari Jones, New York Times


Winner of the PEN/Saul Bellow award for achievement in American fiction

  • Pub date: 1 July 2010
  • ISBN: 9781407016597
  • Imprint: Vintage Digital
  • Format: EBook
  • Pages: 176

About the Author

Toni Morrison

Toni Morrison was awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1993. She was the author of many novels, including The Bluest Eye, Sula, Beloved, Paradise and Love. She received the National Book Critics Circle Award and a Pulitzer Prize for her fiction and was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom, America’s highest civilian honour, in 2012 by Barack Obama. Toni Morrison died on 5 August 2019 at the age of eighty-eight.

Also by Toni Morrison

See all

Praise for A Mercy

“Toni Morrison writes with a fierce possessive poetry and sympathy that proclaims her as an exciting star in the firmament”


“Ms. Morrison's versatility and technical and emotional range appear to know no bounds”

Margaret Atwood

“One of the most compelling writers at work today”

The Times

“A beautiful and important book”

Sunday Times

“A series of bleakly beautiful vignettes that catch at the heart”

Marie Claire

“Unsettling, exquisitely written, and deeply moving, it's an amazing piece of work”

The Gloss (Ireland)

“Varied and authoritative and frequently beautiful”

John Updike, New Yorker

“For all its restraint, and its sinister stealth, A Mercy is a furious novel, a volley of anger, contempt and sorrow... the rich and seemingly casual evocative accretion of background and narrative slowly tightens its grip until the reader is utterly in thrall”


“The very act of reading the novel is to engage in the process of "rememory", the ongoing reconciling of past with present that Morrison defined in Beloved and that haunts all her work. It is a challenging, disorientating way of reading and as soon as you finish A Mercy, the novel demands that you start it again”

Scotland on Sunday

“Emotions run deep and twisted in Morrison's fiction; and their outcome is superbly traced in this powerful, flawed and genuinely creative novel”

Sunday Telegraph

“Morrison's prose is confident and secure, her language masterful...This is another penetrating and profoundly disquieting view of America's past”

Lucinda Byatt, Historical Novels Review


Peter Kemp, The Sunday Times

“In this short, suspenseful novel, the narrative is passed from one character to another... Deep currents of lust, love and grief sweep all before them in lyrical prose that insists on being given free reign.”

Jane Housham, Guardian

“An intricate bland of harsh reality and haunting parable; its power and lyrical beauty make it a worthy successor to Morrison's masterpiece, Beloved.”

Alexandra Masters, Observer

“The power of Morrison's writing comes partly from her subject matter, but when that is married to such convincing and sagacious prose, it is incomparable.”

Lesley McDowell, Herald

“Though omitted from this year's Orange Prize shortlist, there is much in this novel that is excellent.”

Stephanie Cross, The Telegraph Review

“Though omitted from this year's Orange Prize shortlist, there is much in this novel that is excellent”

Stephanie Cross, The Telegraph Review

“An enduring, evocative read which carefully weaves fragmented, personal experiences into a layered, ambivalent narrative about slavery and the price of freedom”

Sorcha Hamilton, Irish Times

“Morrison is at the very height of her powers”

Daily Mail

Related titles