A Matter of Mercy - Lynne Hugo

I’m not sure what I expected when I picked this book from NetGalley, but I will say that I definitely got more than I planned. Set in Wellfleet, a place I remember from childhood vacations, the author easily evokes the atmosphere of the place with description and history. When Caroline Marcum returns to her childhood home, it is not your typical homecoming. Her mother is dying, she has returned to a hometown she left in humiliating circumstances, and there is a legal battle brewing that is taking place literally in her own backyard.


It is difficult to describe this book without going into too much detail about the plot, but I am not a fan of summarizing, especially when the publisher does it so much better than I do. In any case, I will add some thoughts that don’t require too much explanation. I really enjoyed the lesson I learned about the legal history of the aquaculturists and their fight to keep alive a way of life that has been handed down through generations. The author clearly researched her topic, though the facts did become a bit too much at times.


Regarding the characters, I felt the author brought them vividly to life, with a broad range of personalities in the mix. The fishermen, the local color, Caroline, her mother and her friends all combined to make a compelling story.


This is a story about mercy, and, in some way, each of the characters attempts to seek forgiveness. I liked the way the author dealt with this on many levels. I am not really sure what Caroline was supposed to achieve when she sought out the woman she wronged; this plotline offered the only real sour note to the book for me. I felt like her behavior was stalker-like, and inappropriate given the touchy circumstances of her situation. This disappointed me, because I thought she would seek redemption in a much more positive and constructive way.


In any case, I did enjoy the book. It was like a beach read with extra credit — all the things I like in a beach read (beautiful warm setting, interesting characters, a little bit of mystery, romance) with a little history thrown in to make me feel smarter when I finished.