A MATTER OF MERCY: a NOVEL ~Lynne Hugo
“A moon tide rising was the worst time for bad weather, but moon tides are the best for working because the stronger gravitational pull makes the water recede farther. Yet even a storm that clouts during the front of the moon tide can be capricious enough to leave one grant almost untouched while those adjacent might be fouled or wiped out.” (page 15 of uncorrected copy)
Forgiveness is a difficult story to write and to write it well, and yet Lynne Hugo does just that in A MATTER OF MERCY. The author applies a mature voice to the process of redemption as she wraps an interesting fictional tale around an actual lawsuit. The story gives us lots of details about the oyster farming business in Cape Cod Bay, lots of environmental information, great moments of confused decision making when one has not forgiven themselves, and what can happen when vacationing millionaires believe they own someone else’s land – life.
Laurie Buchanan on FB reminded me of this Brene’ Brown wisdom while I was reading this book and it helped me understand the point:
“You either walk inside your story and own it or You stand outside your story and hustle for your worthiness.”
Caroline has reluctantly come home to Massachusetts from Chicago, where she has been hiding since she was in prison for a DUI resulting in a death, lost her teaching certificate, and her husband. Her mother, a potter, is dying of Ovarian Cancer and with the help of Hospice and Caroline she can be in her last days close to her view of the bay and the oyster grants. Her daughter is afraid to be in town because it is the scene of the crime and she believes everyone judges her still. She is in the place where making decisions is very hard a kind of limbo and she loves the days her mother can talk with her.
Ridley Neal is a young man who also spent time in prison because of youthful drug issues. He is the owner of one of the oyster grants in the bay; left to him by his father. He has discovered he likes the hard work and that being an aquaculturist is in his blood and definitely part of his future. Oyster farming involves driving trucks onto the beach at low tide and moving the vehicle as the tide moves back into the shore; the workers use lights for harvesting and maintenance work when the tides are low at night. The wealthy folks in the vacation homes on the bluff have concluded that the trucks, oysters, workers and lights ruin their view and interfere with their rights. They may just win because being an oysterman does not produce enough funds for expensive lawsuits. The lawsuit is a good study for any coastal village or community to be aware of in this day and age. I could relate.
Lynne Hugo did a great deal of research on the tasks of the oyster farmer and she gives a good credit to the aquaculturist community for providing her with needed information and resources on her quest for this novel. Ms. Hugo sent me a gracious thank you note, bookmarks and postcards for agreeing to review her book here.
There are quite a few pictures of the area of the oyster farmers on Cape Cod on the blog and more information sharing.
“Lynne Hugo is a National Endowment for the Arts Fellowship recipient who has also received grants from the Ohio Arts Council and the Kentucky Foundation for Women. She has published five previous novels, one of which became a Lifetime Original Movie of the Month, two books of poetry, and a children’s book. Her memoir, WHERE THE TRAIL GOES FAINT, won the Riverteeth Literary Nonfiction Book Prize. Born and educated in New England, she and her husband currently live in Ohio with a yellow Lab feared by squirrels in a three state area. “(from book cover)
TLC online book tours and the author sent me an uncorrected copy of A MATTER OF MERCY and I can highly recommend A MATTER OF MERCY to my readers , a great gift read, get it on your list.