Full of warmth and domestic detail which inspires the reader. Annie Murray brings her characters and their neighbourhood vividly to life. Denise Robertson
Abandoned at birth, little Mercy Hanley shows a fierce determination few others can match. Her inner fire burns brightly, even in the harsh conditions of turn of the century Birmingham.
For behind Mercy’s pale and haunting face there is a mind of steel, as her harsh foster mother, Mrs Gaskin, soon discovers. Beatings, threats and poverty cannot halt Mercy’s efforts to improve herself, or to create a new life for Susan, Mrs Gaskin’s crippled daughter.
Even in the worst times, it is as if someone is watching over Mercy. Willing her to succeed….
Through the dark shadow of world war, Mercy continues to fight for survival. She will first earn her freedom and security. Then at long last she can give her love…
Mercy is born during the first days of 1900, a new century for a new life. I wanted to write a story set earlier than my first three, and one of the things which was a starting point was my fascination with all those big Victorian institutions which are dotted around our oldest cities. The workhouses and prisons, convents and hospitals and in this case, the orphanages.
Like so many stories when I start thinking about them, it begins to feel like walking into Dr. Who’s ‘Tardis.’ You have a small idea – a baby being abandoned on the steps of an orphanage in Birmingham – and when you get inside it, it turns into something much bigger. So this story, which is about Mercy and her love for Susan, the crippled girl who becomes like a sister to her, about life in the poorer parts of Birmingham at the turn of the century and Mercy’s struggles to find some happiness and a sense of who she is. But it is also about the First World War, about sailing to New York, about belonging, and about the lives of women, when rich or poor, most had far less opportunity to make choices about their lives.