When a small boy is killed in a tragic accident and Sidney is blamed, Lyle takes matters into his own, violent hands in an effort to protect the only people he loves: his beautiful and fragile mother, Elly; his gifted sister, Autumn; and his innocent, beatific brother, Percy. In the end, no one but Lyle can determine the legacy his family’s tragedy will hold. Written with abiding compassion and profound wisdom, and imbued with a luminous grace that is as haunting as it is precisely controlled, Mercy Among the Children is epic storytelling at its absolute finest, populated with richly drawn characters who walk off the pages and into history. With a never-failing elegance and humane moral vision that call to mind Joseph Conrad and Thomas Hardy, David Adams Richards has crafted a magnificent, heartbreaking novel whose towering ambition is matched only by the level of its achievement.
In her rambling Victorian house, surrounded by heirloom gardens and the gentle sounds of a river, fifty-two-year-old Kate Harding faces her second winter since the untimely death of her husband. In her living room are several hatboxes filled with letters recently brought by her sister from the attic of their grandparents' eighteenth-century Connecticut house. Kate remembers the sense of permanence and refuge that she felt in her grandparents' apple-scented world, as well as, more recently, with her husband. As she begins to read the hatbox letters, she discovers that what to a child seemed a serene and blissful marriage was in fact founded on a tragic event. As Kate's eyes clear to the truth of the past, a new tragedy unfolds, and her own house, filled with the shared detritus of marriage and motherhood, becomes the refuge where Kate can connect the strands of her unraveled life.