Snap Review: Mercury by Margot Livesey

Title: Mercury

My rating: 4/5


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.

Snap Review:

After a slow start, this novel surprised me with its narrative and messages of truth and guilt. Donald’s actions (or non-actions) troubled me as he wavered back and forth of whether or not to speak the truth to the appropriate audiences. The amount of time passing as well as the amounts of lies stacking up make it harder for him to do what is right, legally. For those who have taken StrengthsQuest, my Restorative and Consistency were on high alert as regardless of one’s relation to another who has harmed, rules are rules and one must go about solving the problem. Donald receives wisdom about how it is worse to keep a lie and then break it, since now everyone is deceived and hurt. One should either tell the truth in a timely manner or keep the lie going – commit either way. On Viv’s characterization, we can see her stubbornness and inability to see how selfish she is and yet hypocritical of a young rider’s dreams and dedication. I wondered if there was a narrative on gun-control since it seemed to be the focus of trust, safety, and illegal means to acquire one. Overall, I could feel the guilt being torn through both Donald and Viv, both keeping secrets from each other and the ones they love which turns into a mess of things for everyone.
Quotes to stay with me:
“Surely everyone feels like that sometimes. Like inside us are two people who want completely different things” (158)
“I don’t think forgiveness should involve forgetting” (220)
“just a person who made a terrible mistake and who has to live with that day after day, knowing he can never ever go back and undo it” (220)
“Perhaps in some other language there is a word for that state of mind one discovers upon first waking after a terrible event. For barely a fraction of a second everything seems the same. Then there it is, the awful ‘it’, and the world’s utterly altered” (225)
What is past is prologue. Study the past” (278)

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