Sent to me by Sceptre Books in exchange for an honest review.
Release Date: 29/06/17
Publisher: Sceptre Books
Format: Paperback, 336pp
Summed up in a word: Obsessive
Thank you for visiting my stop on the Mercury Blog Tour hosted by Sceptre Books. I don’t think the synopsis for Mercury accurately expresses the level of obsession that is present in this book. For want of a better term Mercury is: Bat-Sh*t Crazy! Definitely in a good way though. I highly recommend this book to everyone. I found reading a book centred around a horse daunting at first but that was quickly swept aside when I realised the severity of Viv’s infatuation with Mercury. Watching the intensity escalate to unreasonable heights was entertaining and I was grateful to ML for avoiding a clichèd ending. See below for my full review and also there are plenty more amazing blogs participating in the tour so please go and check them out (see tour poster for more details).
An optometrist in suburban Boston, Donald is sure that he and his wife, Viv, are both devoted to their two children and each other. Then Mercury – a gorgeous young thoroughbred with a murky past – arrives at Viv’s stables, and as she begins to ride him, dreams she had harboured and relinquished for the sake of her family are rekindled; dreams that soon morph into consuming desire.
As her infatuation with the thoroughbred escalates to obsession, it seems there is nothing – and no one – she will allow to stop her this time around.
Though Donald may have 20/20 vision, he is slow to notice how profoundly Viv has changed, and how much these changes threaten their quiet, secure world. But by the time he does, it is too late to stop the catastrophic collision of Viv’s determined ambitions…
I was completely flabbergasted at the level of Viv’s obsession and also of Don’s short-sightedness when it came to his wife’s infatuation with the prize-winning horse Mercury. Mercury is a tale of lost dreams, grief and passion; I quickly got caught up in the vortex of Mercury’s presence and I followed Don’s story on the edge of my seat. Margot Livesey caught me off guard with Mercury and I had a great time with the novel. I recommend this book to all. Though the story itself is quite complex, with all its moving parts, there aren’t any really difficult or dark themes so it can be enjoyed by most readers.
Mercury is an account of the slow and steady implosion of Don and Viv’s marriage. Told from both of their perspectives, they both give their side of the story. Don’s parts are more of a diary-like account, keeping a log of important and memorable moments since Mercury’s arrival at Windy Hill. Viv’s act is a confession, an explanation, of how she gave up her equestrian dreams for the family but Mercury reignited that flame of wanting to be a star. Margot Livesey has crafted such an enticing and chaotic piece and I loved every second of it. Don’s grief of losing his father has blinded him to his wife and friends. When he regains control of the focus and determination he has lost, it is too late. Mercury is the golden ticket to reviving Viv’s crushed dreams and no one is going to take that away from her. Nobody!
I understand Viv’s story. I am not being unfair and saying she should have left those dreams behind her and moved on. But the unbreakable spell that Mercury puts on Viv’s psyche takes her to places that she never expected to be; including a shooting range. Yes, this story does get intense, people get hurt, relationships are ruined and lessons are learned. Viv is entitled to her dreams but when she begins to forget about her family completely and sneak off to see Mercury at all hours of the day; I started to feel less empathetic. I thought the minimal presence of Mercury was very clever. He does pop up in person here and there but for the most part, his affect on the other characters is psychological.
I was mesmerised by ML’s writing. ML manages to give depth to her characters while maintaining an atmosphere of anxiety, frustration and irrationality. Don has always been a calm and rational person. His job as an optometrist demands that he keep a steady hand and mind but Viv’s obsession will bring out the anger and passion he has kept deep down for so long. At no point was I bored with this novel, my mind stayed with it all the way to its emotional finale.
I really need to read more of ML’s work. I couldn’t get enough of her writing. It blends together lots of opposing themes and ideas that enhance to the story to new heights. From Scottish vs American, rational vs irrational, success vs failure, family vs freedom to dreams vs reality and so on. ML understands both the human condition and the complexities of relationships; I couldn’t fault her on how she brought the characters together or drove them apart. My favourite part to Mercury is the overall design. Each character brings an interesting or thought-provoking edge to the story. Each element has its place, every scenario is more and more irrational and unstable; designed that way to test the reader and invoke frustration and understanding.
Themes like obsession, secrets, violence and sacrifice are present but so are themes like reconciliation, forgiveness and compromise. I do believe that everyone can relate to this story in many ways. I certainly did. I encourage all readers to pick up Mercury as it is a firm reminder to acknowledge the dreams of everyone in your life. Everyone has sacrificed something to be where they are today and it is important to remind ourselves of the reasons for those choices. I have given Mercury 4.5/5 stars because it is a great book with some brilliant moments. I will be talking about this book to everyone for quite some time as it was a remarkable read.
About Margot Livesey
Margot Livesey is a New York Times bestselling author of eight novels, and her work has appeared in the New Yorker, Vogue, and the Atlantic. She is the recipient of grants from both the National Endowment for the Arts and the Guggenheim Foundation and her novel The House on Fortune Street won the 2009 L. L. Winship/PEN New England Award. Born in Scotland, Livesey currently lives in the Boston area and is a professor of fiction at the Iowa Writers’ Workshop.