Margot Livesey

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  • 2016
  • HarperCollins
  • Hardcover, Paperback, Kindle, iBook
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  • A Kirkus Reviews "Best Fiction of 2016" selection
  • A Bookpage "Best Books of 2016" selection
  • A Barnes and Noble "Best Books of 2016" selection
  • A Seattle Times "Best Books of 2016" selection

Donald is an optometrist, his wife, Viv, manages a riding stable. When a beautiful horse, the dapple grey Mercury, arrives at the stables, Viv rediscovers her ambitions to become a champion rider and begins to pour time and money into training him.

Her infatuation with the thoroughbred escalates to obsession, as she comes to believe that Mercury is in danger. Still grieving the death of his father, Donald is slow to notice how profoundly Viv has changed and how these changes threaten their quiet, secure world. The story of their frayed relationship raises complicated questions about married love, change, and choice: What does an ambitious woman do when the object of her ambition is threatened? What does an upright man do when his wife does something unthinkable?

Margot Livesey weaves many threads in this masterful novel: a passion for horses since her Scottish childhood, a long-standing interest in vision and the way we see—both literally and figuratively—and also timely questions about firearms and gun control.

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Praise for Mercury

"I came to this story in a state of innocence, and I feel that its terrific power depended in great part on the gradual unfolding of unlooked-for events. So, I leave this pleasure for you to experience in its unadulterated form." Katherine Powers for The Christian Science Monitor

"[A] remarkable, powerful novel....The book's concluding chapters are finely nuanced as Donald wrestles with his moral dilemma, and his own unwitting contributions to it. Does he make the right decision? It's impossible to know, but Livesey makes you wonder and reconsider—and admire her skill in giving you no obvious answers." Melinda Bargreen, for The Seattle Times

"You'll be glued to the page." People (Book of the Week)

People Picks No. 12: The Best New Books for October 3, 2016

"Margot Livesey should be better known. She has a commercial storyteller's talent for sustained suspense and a penchant for the life-changing cruel or criminal act. A willingness to call forth supernatural beings couldn't be called antithetical to popularity....The best-seller lists are full of slapdash if rousing plots. Margot Livesey sometimes finds a place on those lists, and Mercury is not a bad candidate. That a gun goes off at a crucial moment, however, is not the reason to pick it up. Intricately convincing relationships, and accomplished sentence-making, are." Mark Kamine, for The Wall Street Journal

"The whole who-shot-whom-and-why thing isn't the main reason to read Margot Livesey's new novel, Mercury, although it does walk and talk like a crime novel. A cloud of foreboding breathes over nearly every page....[I]n the end our interest derives less from the piecing together of clues and practical facts than from the surprisingly moving voice of the narrator himself...who embodies the question of how who we are can shape what happens to us....Livesey's prose has a brusque sensuality: It reads lucid and forthright and lean....In constructing a narrator who is at once transparent (he reveals so much of himself, his limitations and his puzzlement over them, to the reader) and opaque (he is frequently emotionally unavailable to the people around him and even to himself), Livesey roots tension not just in the bones but in the very marrow of the book. In the end, this is not so much a crime novel as a novel about a trial: the story of one man's austere endeavor to hold himself to account." Leah Hager Cohen, for The Boston Globe

"[C]onsuming...[Mercury] explores themes of honesty and understanding by showing the impact that obsessions—grief, rapacity—can have on a marriage." The New Yorker

"Mercury explores that thrilling, terrifying moment when grief turns blind, when passion becomes obsession. As always, Livesey tells her tale masterfully, with intelligence, tenderness and a shrewd understanding of all our mercurial human impulses." Lily King, author of Euphoria

"Mercury is a haunting, meticulous inquiry into the nature of blindness—its insidious power to corrupt marital trust, even between those with perfect vision. Margot Livesey is a searingly intelligent writer at the height of her powers." Jennifer Egan, author of A Visit from the Goon Squad

"Mercury is as luminous, unforgettable, and perfectly rendered as only Margot Livesey can accomplish. I only wished it were twice as long." Dennis Lehane, author of World Gone By

"The mid-life crisis takes many forms, some familiar, some wildly unexpected. Margot Livesey, in her riveting novel Mercury, portrays a couple in their season of crisis. Patiently, precisely, she unfolds the layers of their drama, at once quiet and extreme. She'll make you wonder how well you know your spouse." Claire Messud, author of The Woman Upstairs

"Mercury demonstrates Tolstoy's dictum: all unhappy families are unhappy in their own way. The Stevensons find themselves upended by a horse—a magnificent horse that sets off a chain of deceit and crime. This powerful novel reveals the fragility of life when tested by the shock of genuine passion." Ben Fountain, author of Billy Lynn's Long Halftime Walk

"No one plumbs the depths of ordinary human folly and its consequences like the brilliantly perceptive Margot Livesey. Be prepared: Mercury will take you on quite a ride." Julia Glass, author of And the Dark Sacred Night

"[A] probing study of the way character shapes our destinies from... Livesey, a Scottish transplant whose brilliant novels are underknown in her adopted country, rings so many dazzling changes on the subjects of eyesight, hindsight, and blinkered sight... Livesey has a healthy respect for the mysteries of the human heart... A sharply sketched supporting cast adds to the depth and cumulative power... yet more evidence of Livesey's formidable gifts." Kirkus (Starred review)

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Paperback Edition