FICTION

Mercury

Harper: HarperCollins. Sept. 2016. 336p. ISBN 9780062437501. $26.99; ebk. ISBN 9780062437532. F
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Donald and Viv, at a turning point in their marriage, are implementing all the changes they once eschewed. Leaving Boston and Viv's high-powered career behind, they relocate to the suburbs, where Donald, an optometrist, opens his own practice and Viv can indulge her long-subsumed passion for horses. Training riders at Windy Hill stables affords Viv time for their two children and for Donald's dad, who has Parkinson's. But from the moment Mercury trots into the paddock, locking eyes with Viv, there's a seismic shift in the atmosphere. Livesey (The Flight of Gemma Hardy) has a penchant for creating a sense of foreboding in her novels, and readers who recall that Mercury was the Roman god who led souls to the underworld will not be surprised when Viv's behavior turns uncharacteristically quixotic. Literally and figuratively, the symbolism of blindness weighs heavily on this narrative. Enhancing the vision is Donald's trade, yet he fails to perceive that Viv's obsession with the thoroughbred, and their inability to communicate about it, will result in catastrophe.
VERDICT A prolific author and esteemed professor at the Iowa Writers' Workshop, Livesey has written a tangled morality tale not about a horse but about a marriage and friendships disintegrating under the steady drip of secrets and half-truths. There's plenty for discussion here. [See Prepub Alert, 3/21/16.]

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