Tuesday, August 16, 2011

The Mercy Room by Gilles Rozier

The Mercy Room is about an unnamed and ungendered character during World War II in France. The main character's name is never said or revealed in any way, nor is their gender (but there are enough clues to make the character a woman, as they marry a man named Jude). What is the "mercy room" is initially a small room in a cellar meant for the character's storing of books. They go there to read and enjoy the quiet. While at work, the character meets and ends up smuggling in a Jew named Herman. The reader knows of the character's infatuation with Herman and is a main motivating reason why the character protects him. Herman stays in the mercy room, and the two together make him a mattress from repurposed materials. During this time of the character protecting, feeding, and educating (and learning from) Herman, he falls in love with her. After two years of hiding in the cellar, Herman becomes quite restless (also because of the body they must bury in the mercy room) so the character must help him escape out of the mercy room without being suspected of being a Jew. I'm not a big fan of history, particularly anything militaryish, but it was an interesting read to find out where the love story would end.

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