Get a FREE Books of the Moment  sampler!
Check Out These
21 Books You’ve Been Meaning to Read
See the List

The Quality of Mercy

The Quality of Mercy by Barry Unsworth
Jan 10, 2012 | 336 Pages
See All Formats (2) +
  • Paperback $15.95

    Aug 07, 2012 | 336 Pages

  • Hardcover $26.95

    Jan 10, 2012 | 336 Pages

  • Ebook $11.99

    Jan 10, 2012 | 320 Pages

Product Details


“Unsworth is one of the best historical novelists on either side of the Atlantic, and in both Sacred Hunger and The Quality of Mercy his vast knowledge of 18th-century social and material conditions creates a rich and strange rendering of daily life that’s utterly persuasive.”
The New York Times Book Review

“Told with bite and freshness. Unsworth, one of the most ingenious and varied of today’s British writers, makes his scenes not just vivid but microscopically vivid – we see not only their visible life but the invisible life that pulsates beneath. But what may be more remarkable is the creative subversion he works in his characters. . . . Unsworth gives his figures glittering definition, and then leaves them open and undefined.”
—Richard Eder, The Boston Globe

“Unsworth is one of the greatest living historical novelists, and this is what he does best: He entices us back into a past gloriously appointed with archival detail and moral complexity. . . . [The Quality of Mercy] is another engaging demonstration of the talent that’s made Unsworth one of the very few writers to appear on the Booker shortlist three times. His sentences recall the sharp detail, moral sensitivity and ready wit of Charles Dickens. But his sense of the lumbering, uneven gait of social progress is more sophisticated, more tempered, one might say, by history.”
The Washington Post

“Deeply moving. . . . Unsworth brings his characters together with authority and grace. As with all of his historical novels, he conveys the sights, sounds and smells of life in another century without the slightest hint of pedantry.”
The Wall Street Journal

“Instantly compelling and impeccably written. . . . Line by line, Unsworth is a vigorous and precise writer.”
Los Angeles Times

“Reading Barry Unsworth, one immediately feel secure in the hands of an experienced pro, a master scribe who knows his way through a story like a seasoned navigator sailing treacherous but familiar seas. . . . [His] latest labor of love is full of gorgeous prose, wonderful dialogue in regional dialect, deeply etched characters, and historical settings both rural and urban one can smell and taste. . . . Endlessly enthralling.”
San Antonio Express-News

“Thought- provoking and resonant.”
The Denver Post

“Wryly, and with Austenesque delicacy, Unsworth presents the intricacies of love, competition, and other timeless human emotions, as well as 18th-century law. Having invented his own brand of historical fiction, characterized by research, imagination, and a literate narrator equally adept at penetrating a society’s values or an individual’s heart, Unsworth creates a novel that works both as period piece and indictment of industrial capitalism. . . . It succeeds in presenting a compelling picture of a transitional moment in English history, not to mention in the development of the English character.”
Publishers Weekly

“The Quality of Mercy is the work of one who is both artist and craftsman. There is not a page without interest, not a sentence that rings false. It is gripping and moving, a novel about justice which is worthy of that theme. In short, it is a tremendous achievement, as good as anything this great novelist has written.”
The Scotsman 

“Unsworth’s is a vigorous, clear-eyed approach to history, electrified by his complete feel for the period, his neat bathetic wit and his natural gift for storytelling.”
The Telegraph

“Unsworth’s writing is as rich and authoritative as ever, his eye for the period detail as judicious.”
The Guardian
“Entirely engrossing.”
Financial Times
“Immediately involving and immensely readable.”
Daily Mail

Looking for More Great Reads?
Download our Spring Fiction Sampler Now
Back to Top