A delightful, sweet and funny novel from bestselling novelist Tess Evans, Mercy Street tells the heartwarming story of curmudgeonly pensioner George, who, since his wife’s death three years ago, is living a life that is no more than the sum of his ‘worn-out, washed out days’. While his marriage to Pen was a happy one, they never had children, so his life has narrowed to trips to the shop, occasional visits from his bossy sister Shirl and afternoons in the pub with his old mate Redgum.
But one day, everything changes when Angie, a nineteen-year-old single mother, unexpectedly saves his life. George grudgingly acknowledges his debt to her, and later, when Angie asks for a favour, he has no choice but to agree. Gradually George’s life begins to blossom, until Angie’s fecklessness unexpectedly sets him on the wrong side of the law. It takes all of his love and courage, and friends both old and new, for George to deal with a very unexpected turn of events.
A novel about mistakes, accidental families, and the transformative power of love, from the bestselling author of Book of Lost Threads, Tess Evans.
Every so often you come across a novel that pulls you into its community. You find yourself hanging out with a collection of fictitious people that remind you so much of real people that you know, in real places that you go, that it becomes hard to finish the novel and move on. Mercy Street is exactly this type of novel.
The story telling is entirely engaging with a beautifully Australian feel to it that is impossible not to appreciate.
Mercy Street tells the story of an accidental relationship between an old man and a young girl. George is a retired widower who has never had children of his own. Rory is a tough little urchin who has had to fight for love from birth. This story is filled with joy and hope, love and poignant moments.
Interspersed with recollections of George’s past at key moments throughout the book, we get to know who George really is, who his wife was, and how their life together without children shaped George into the man who becomes Rory’s ‘Poppy George’. The cast of supporting characters – Redgum, Shirl, the Nugyens, the Parkes, Bree – all bring their own brand of something special to this story.
Angie, Rory’s mother, is sadly, a person all too familiar to me. Fuelled by a misplaced sense of entitlement, entirely selfish and far too immature to even comprehend the consequences of her own actions. She’s a product of cyclical poverty, parental neglect, and generational ignorance. Even years on, after Rory is grown, she fails to accept any responsibility for her own actions. She is a person who will never learn and never change, and this runs deep as an undercurrent throughout the entire novel. Angie is who George wanted to save Rory from. He wanted to ensure she didn’t become her mother, perpetuating the cycle that is so hard to break away from.
Tess Evans demonstrates these truths and motives to perfection in a sustained manner throughout the entire novel. In my opinion, Mercy Street is an outstanding example of modern Australian society and it deserves a place on the shelves of every reader.