Margot Livesey’s ‘Mercury’ is the Story of Us [REVIEW]

Woman connecting with horse

When Viv meets a horse named Mercury, all her old dreams suddenly seem tangible. (Photo by Anne Worner, Flickr)

Two people, one horse, and a decision that changes their lives forever. In Margot Livesey’s Mercury, a married couple realizes that perception is everything and sometimes life changes seemingly overnight simply because we failed to listen.

Margot Livesey's MERCURY


Donald is an optometrist in suburban Boston. Viv runs Windy Hill, the local stables. By all appearances, they have a wonderful marriage. But life gets in the way. Children are born. Parents get sick. Dreams get put on hold. It seems like they navigate it all well enough, but what happens when one of the people in a marriage is no longer happy with the status quo? Will the other spouse notice? And what happens when he does?

These are all very valid questions that Livesey brilliantly addresses in Mercury. The title refers to a horse that comes to stay at Windy Hill, who Viv falls head over heels in love with. An enthusiastic equestrian, all the dreams she’d put on hold for so long come flooding back. The more she works with the animal, the more vivid and obtainable those dreams seem to become.

Meanwhile, Donald is busy helping his parents since his father was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease as well as running a successful practice as an eye doctor. Yet even though he deals with eyes on a daily basis, his own vision doesn’t seem to be what it should, because it takes some time before he realizes how much those closest to him are changing. His own wife seems mercurial to him somehow, even though he admired her determination and strength early on in their relationship.

This is a novel that is brilliant in its constant comparisons, which are subtle and smart, and play upon the title of the book itself. Yet it is a pleasure to read, one which I devoured in one sitting, because the people Livesey writes about are more than characters on a page. This is the story of us, all of us, and just how unreliable our eyes and ears can be, particularly when dealing with those we are closest to.

Livesey’s Mercury is literary fiction at its best. In a world where we are all so easily distracted, this book does everything excellent stories should do. It makes readers think about their own relationships, and evaluate just how well they communicate with the people in their lives. Mercury is important, must-read material that is life affirming, and possibly even life changing.

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Margot Livesey

Margot Livesey
(Photo by Tony Rinaldi)


Margot Livesey is the New York Times bestselling author of the novels The Flight of Gemma HardyThe House on Fortune StreetBanishing VeronaEva Moves the FurnitureThe Missing WorldCriminals, and Homework

Her work has appeared in The New YorkerVogue, and The Atlantic, and she is the recipient of grants from both the National Endowment for the Arts and the Guggenheim Foundation. The House on Fortune Street won the 2009 L.L. Winship/PEN New England Award.

Born in Scotland, Livesey currently lives in the Boston area and is a professor of fiction at the Iowa Writers’ Workshop. Visit her home on the Web, like her on Facebook and follow her on Twitter.

By Margot Livesey
336 pgs. Harper. $26.99

You may purchase the book at one of these fine online retailers: HarperCollinsAmazon or Barnes & Noble.

Mercury is brought to you in association with TLC Book Tours.

TLC Book Tours Tour Host

About Jathan Fink
Jathan is a journalist, philanthropist, and entrepreneur. He is also a travel junkie, foodie and jazz aficionado. A California native, he resides in Texas.

6 Responses to Margot Livesey’s ‘Mercury’ is the Story of Us [REVIEW]

  1. Pingback: Book Review MERCURY | gspotsylvania

  2. trish says:

    My favorite kind of literary fiction: smart, thoughtful, and insightful! It’s books like these that make me want to read.

  3. When a book can make me think and stick with me for a long time, then I know that reading it was time well spent.

    Thanks for being a part of the tour!

  4. Jathan Fink says:

    Reblogged this on Jadeworks Entertainment and commented:

    Do you listen to your mate? Like, really listen to what they are telling you? Find out what happens when your communication skills aren’t what they should be in Margot Livesey’s brilliant novel, Mercury.

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