Book Review: Mercury

Monday, October 10, 2016

Mercury by Margot Livesey


From the publisher: Donald believes he knows all there is to know about seeing. An optometrist in suburban Boston, he is sure that he and his wife, Viv, who runs the local stables, are both devoted to their two children and to each other. Then Mercury—a gorgeous young thoroughbred with a murky past—arrives at Windy Hill and everything changes.

Mercury’s owner, Hilary, is a newcomer to town who has enrolled her daughter in riding lessons. When she brings Mercury to board at Windy Hill, everyone is struck by his beauty and prowess, particularly Viv. As she rides him, Viv begins to dream of competing again, embracing the ambitions that she had harbored, and relinquished, as a young woman. Her daydreams soon morph into consuming desire, and her infatuation with the thoroughbred escalates to obsession.

Donald may have 20/20 vision but he is slow to notice how profoundly Viv has changed and how these changes threaten their quiet, secure world. By the time he does, it is too late to stop the catastrophic collision of Viv’s ambitions and his own myopia.

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

First, let me say that the cover and spine (at least on my ARC copy) of this book are pretty awesome. I've been obsessing over this spine since the book arrived. And it took me a couple months, but just a day or two ago I realized that the image on the cover is a horse (yes, now I realize it's super obvious--it's been a long few weeks in my defense). 

However, the book itself left quite a bit to be desired for me. There were a lot of small things in the writing of this book that, if changed or improved, would have made the book a lot more enjoyable for me. I found the writing, particularly in the beginning of the book to be quite confusing. The narrative seemed to jump around a lot, time flew by without being properly remarked upon, and this all gave me a greater disconnect with the story. 

I really didn't connect with Donald's narration much. For me it was unclear, pompous, and left me with a lot of questions. He blames every problem in his life on something or someone besides himself, obsesses over the past, and makes some fairly astounding decisions. He really wasn't sympathetic to me, especially in the first section. This is a small thing, but I also don't enjoy when characters in books sporadically refer the book that I'm reading as something that they are apparently writing, with no explanation as to why. I prefer just to read a book and not be forced every so often to confront the confusing fact that apparently this character is actually writing all of this story down for me. *cringe*

The pace definitely picked up for me at the end of Donald's first section and during Viv's narration. She was much more clear and fluid as a narrative voice and I had much less trouble catching all of what was happening. Though I don't agree with all of the actions of either main character, I enjoyed reading Viv's perspective more, even when her storytelling got redundant and she insisted on referring to Don as "you" as though she too was writing this down to read him as a bedtime story. 

Otherwise, a lot of the minor characters were kind of confusing at first. Remembering the differences between Hilary, Claudia, Diane, Bonnie, etc. took a while for me. Also, another small thing, but why do the children in the story sometimes refer to their parents and grandparents by first name? Quite disorienting to me for whatever reason. 

I definitely didn't hate this book though--the second half in particular was very enjoyable. While I had a lot of small complaints, it's also a very interesting, driven novel. I haven't read a "horse book" since I was a kid, but this was a great fresh take on the concept and I was pleasantly surprised by it. There were some great shocking moments and plenty of intrigue throughout. It's a pretty suspenseful book, but it's also a book about people and their thoughts and actions, and I think it did quite well at achieving all of those goals. So while it all could have been executed better, there is definitely still a lot that's worthwhile here, and I do recommend it for anyone intrigued by the description or by psychologically perplexing books. 

I received this book for review froHarperCollins and TLC Book Tours.

Check out the rest of the tour here!

1 comment:

  1. Huh, I didn't see the horse on the cover until you pointed it out. And of course now I can't NOT see it. Ha!

    Thanks for being a part of the tour.