Under the Mercy Trees
By Heather Newton
(Harper Perennial, Paperback, 9780062001344, 352pp.)
Publication Date: January 2011
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Thirty years ago, Martin Owenby came to New York City with dreams of becoming a writer. Now his existence revolves around cheap Scotch and weekend flings with equally damaged men. When he learns that his older brother, Leon, has gone missing, he must return to the Owenby farm in Solace Fork, North Carolina, to assist in the search. But that means facing a past filled with regrets, the family that never understood him, the girl whose heart he broke, and the best friend who has faithfully kept the home fires burning. As the mystery surrounding Leon's disappearance deepens, so too does the weight of decades-long unresolved differences and unspoken feelingsforcing Martin to deal with the hardest lessons about home, duty, and love.
Heather Newton's short stories have appeared in Crucible, Encore, Wellspring, and elsewhere She lives with her family in Asheville, North Carolina, where she is an attorney and mediator.
- Of the four narrators–Martin, Liza, Bertie and Ivy–who was your favorite? Why?
“A melancholy mood suffuses Newton’s nimble debut.... [An] eloquent, sorrowful novel.... Readers of both Pat Conroy, on one hand, and Carson McCullers, on the other, will relish Newton’s flawed characters and piquant portrayal of small town life.”
-Booklist (starred review)
“Told from these four characters’ points of view, this first novel builds nicely toward many revelations and resolutions. Newton is skilled at revealing a world of hurt, and fans of family dramas will appreciate it.”
“A novel that seamlessly, beautifully, twines past with present to show how we can never escape our histories or the deeds—good and bad—that create those histories. The powerful, swelling conclusion of this book raised gooseflesh on my arms and had me near tears. ”
-Tom Franklin, New York Times bestselling author of Crooked Letter, Crooked Letter
“Under The Mercy Trees will take your breath away.... A remarkable debut by a writer who captures with her words the beauty in the ugly and forgiveness in the unrepentant.”
-Robin Antalek, author of The Summer We Fell Apart
“Under the Mercy Trees is an amazing novel, driven by mystery, and weaving past and present stories into an intricate and mesmerizing design.... An extraordinary piece of work.”
-Jill McCorkle, author of Going Away Shoes
“A brilliantly crafted novel of a complex family bound by love and hate, hope and regret, a family that must come to terms with each other and in the process, forgive themselves. You’ll find a bit of your own family there and perhaps something of yourself.”
-Sandra Dallas, author of Whiter Than Snow and Prayers for Sale
“Under the Mercy Trees offers eloquent evidence that nothing is or ever will be as dramatic as family.... [A] stunningly beautiful book…. Newton has rendered her characters’ world with clear-eyed compassion and in so doing delivered one sweet ache of a novel.”
-Tommy Hays, author of The Pleasure Was Mine
“Newton delivers a stirring debut novel told from the perspective of four central characters embroiled in a family drama that spans generations and is riddled with defensive secrecy and emotional penury in equal measures…. Newton delivers across the board with these characters.”