The Quality of Mercy: A Novel - Barry Unsworth
Superb! This is an exquisitely written book. The way Mr. Unsworth wove multiple stories and characters together made me feel like I was reading Dickens, particularly the way he wrapped it all up so up nicely at the end. He obviously researched his subject matters thoroughly. Both of the stories dealing with social injustice were thoroughly engrossing. We all took U.S. history in high school, and those who went to college took it again there. So we all know the horrors of slavery and of mining. The Quality of Mercy reminds us of these horrors and manages to humanize them in a way that no history text or lecture ever could.

I was particularly interested on learning how Britain felt about slavery and what social and legal standing blacks had on British soil. As an American, it's difficult to recall that the enslavement of Africans was an almost uniquely American institution. But even more engrossing was the story relating the fortunes and misfortunes of the mining family. It was absolutely heartbreaking to see how one man, doomed to a life of underground toil, and knowing that his children were as doomed as he was, dreamed of a better life that did not involve darkness, and knowing that despite any sacrifice he was capable of making, it would never come to pass.

I am now quite eager to read more from Mr. Unsworth.