Mercy Street is one of those books with characters who capture your heart, and who you want to spend every minute with.
Often humorous and sometimes heart-wrenching, it’s the story of George, a widowed pensioner living a ‘worn-out, washed out’ life in a Melbourne suburb – until his world is turned upside down by meeting little Aurora-Jane (Rory) and her teenage mother, Angie.
A charming tale about an older man transformed by love, Mercy Street is reminiscent of Major Pettigrew’s Last Stand. And it centres around many of the same themes – hopes, dreams, compassion and the relationships between people—as Tess Evans’ first, bestselling, novel Book of Lost Threads.
When Angie takes off ‘for a while’, George finds himself caring for Rory, feeling his way into a kind of parenthood. He valiantly tackles Rory’s enthusiasms and anxieties, plans her birthday parties, and even becomes a ‘reading mum’, helping out at her school. It takes his ‘best love’ and courage, and the help of friends –old and new – to help Rory thrive.
But then Angie announces she is coming back to collect Rory, and George unexpectedly finds himself on the wrong side of the law…
As his new life with Rory unfolds, George reminisces about his long – but childless – marriage to beautiful, practical, copper-haired Pen and his relationship with his bossy, heart-of-gold sister Shirl.
It’s these characters – along with George’s straight-down-the-line mate Redgum; elderly Vietnamese neighbours the Nguyens and Rory’s “aunty” Bree – who make reading Mercy Street such a treat.
Tess Evans is an Australian author who describes herself as a ‘late starter’: her first novel, Book of Threads(shortlisted for an Indie Award) was published in the year she turned sixty. Evans has experience teaching and counseling a wide range of people including migrants, apprentices, sole parents and unemployed workers of all ages and profession, and the characters she creates are wonderfully recognisable and relatable.
Mercy Street is her third published book. It’s one to touch your heart, make you smile – and even cause you to shed a tear.