I received a free copy of The Sharp Edge of Mercy by Connie Hertzberg Mayo from her publicist, Caitlin Hamilton Summie for review. All opinions are my own.
About The Sharp Edge of Mercy:
NEW YORK CITY, 1890: Lillian Dolan is optimistic about her new job at the New York Cancer Hospital after dreaming for years of becoming a nurse. But she struggles to fit in, and her only friend at the hospital is Jupiter, a Black man who runs the crematorium. When the confident Dr. Bauer arrives as the new surgeon and takes a shine to Lillian, she is thrilled to be noticed.
Lillian has been warned not to get too close to the patients, but Mrs. Sokolova draws her in, and Lillian wins praise from the nurses for making progress with a difficult patient. But when Mrs. Sokolova’s situation becomes dire, she puts Lillian in an impossible situation-all while Lillian slowly loses control of her relationship with Dr. Bauer.
Her decision to help her patient throws her life into chaos, and Jupiter may be the only person who can help her with the choice before her: capitulate to Dr. Bauer’s demands or face possible arrest.
About the Author:
Connie Hertzberg Mayo finally felt old enough in her forties that she thought she had something to say in a novel. During the years it took to find the time to write this book, her family made up the adjective “hoop-and-stick” (referencing the turn of the century children’s toy) to describe her penchant for simple things of the past, particularly that have no technology component (as in, “Mom likes chess because it’s so hoop-and-stick”). She fully recognizes the irony of this, given that she wrote this novel on her laptop.
She lives in Massachusetts with her husband, two children, two cats and her heirloom tomato garden.
The Island of Worthy Boys is a 2015 USA Best Book Awards Finalist, and a 2015 INDIEFAB Book of the Year Award Finalist.
Visit www.conniemayo.com for more information.
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“Mayo’s novel not only offers a close look at health care at the turn of the 20th century, but also addresses the racial, class, and sexual tensions that existed alongside strict, bigoted Victorian-era standards of morality. Mayo brings her characters and settings to life with deft prose and careful research. Her descriptions of the crowded streets of New York are visceral and authentic…A compelling and diverse historical novel.”-Kirkus Reviews
“A timely novel that speaks of racism, economic disparities, and the role of the frontline healthcare workers in the hospital setting. Author Connie Hertzberg Mayo opens a captivating window into a bygone era that reminds us that as much as things change, some things stay the same. This is a beautifully written book you won’t put down until the last page.”
–NY Times Best Selling Author Lynne Hinton, author of The Beekeeper’s Wife and The View From Here
“Mayo’s writing is crisp and has tremendous emotional appeal . . . . The Sharp Edge of Mercy does not sacrifice craft even as it juggles a slew of historical facts and social issues. . . . a riveting and compelling read. It will have you cheering for Lillian at every turn.”
“THE SHARP EDGE OF MERCY is a stunning tale of a woman caught between the ethics of the day and the truth of the human heart. Mayo writes with enormous eloquence, transporting the reader into the distant past in a manner that feels familiar and immersive. An absolutely riveting book!”
-Crystal King, author of Feast of Sorrow and The Chef’s Secret
“Rich in period detail, THE SHARP EDGE OF MERCY is a deeply immersive look at a New York City hospital at the end of the 19th century. With her well-drawn characters and crisp prose, Hertzberg Mayo’s novel is a treat to read. I look forward to whatever she does next.”
-Stacey Murphy, author of the Amelia Matthew Mystery series
“Readers who loved Addison Armstrong’s The Light of Luna Park, and Susan Meissner’s The Nature of Fragile Things will enjoy author Connie Mayo’s story of shattering secrets, of perseverance, and of love of family above all else.”
-Tracey Enerson Wood, author of International and USA Today Best Seller The Engineer’s Wife and The War Nurse
“The Sharp Edge of Mercy is a powerful and gripping story of inner strength, determination, and the imbalance of power. With sharp dialogue and a rich setting, this work of historical fiction had me rooting for Lillian from the first pages.”
-Emily Cavanagh, author of Her Guilty Secret and Everybody Lies
Let me just start by noting that I am so very glad that I live in this time. I am sure some person 100 years in the future will write that about our hospitals and medical procedures but from where I sit looking back…I stand by my statement.
Lillian is a young woman who is, if you ask me, way ahead of her time. She has a disabled sister for whom she must care and she longs for a career as a nurse – not that she would call it a career. She just knows that she wants to dedicate herself to the profession. When she finds a way to work at the New York Cancer Hospital she she gets her ducks in a row and secures the job.
A friend of her cousin can babysit her sister who cannot be left alone due to a disability. She does what she is told and then some to earn if not the respect, at least the notice of the “real” nurses. She does catch the eye of the Doctor on staff and he offers to tutor her – but what exactly does he want to teach her in their private, off hospital meetings?
Despite all of these complications Lillian manages to thrive in her job and she even finds a way through to one of the most stubborn patients on the ward. But her efforts may not bring her to a place she wants to be.
All in all this was a quite compelling read with some considerations of medicine that prove eternal. It read very quickly for me as Ms. Hertzberg Mayo is a very compelling writer who sets the scene well whether it be a small moment on the street or a major confrontation between characters.