Hardback The mercies / Kiran Millwood Hargrave.
Publication year: 2020
Resource type: Physical
ISBN: 1529005108 9781529005103 (hbk.) :
On Christmas Eve, 1617, the sea around the remote Norwegian island of Vardø is thrown into a reckless storm. As Maren Magnusdatter watches, forty fishermen, including her father and brother, are lost to the waves, the menfolk of Vardø wiped out in an instant. Now the women must fend for themselves. Eighteen months later, a sinister figure arrives. Summoned from Scotland to take control of a place at the edge of the civilised world, Absalom Cornet knows what he needs to do to bring the women of Vardø to heel. With him travels his young wife, Ursa. In Vardø, and in Maren, Ursa finds something she has never seen before: independent women. But Absalom sees only a place untouched by God and flooded with a mighty and terrible evil, one he must root out at all costs.
341 pages : maps (black and white) ; 23 cm
I really enjoyed this historical fiction based on a true event in a Norwegian coastal village in 1617. A storm killed forty fishermen, wiping out the male population and leaving the women to learn how to survive without them. Their way of life is not threatened by the changes in their circumstance nor the bitter cold of the harsh environment they inhabit, but by the arrival of a new authority figure – Absalom Cornet, and his accompanying religious bigotry. I listened to this audiobook on RBdigital and found the narration only added to the beautiful writing style. I’m also glad I listened to this as I wouldn’t have known how to pronounce some of the names and words which are written in Norwegian that sound different to how they are written! The themes in this book are surprisingly current, touching on issues of social control, mob mentality, sisterhood and solidarity in response to paradigms of patriarchal power. A haunting and evocative book that I shall definitely read again.