Baker Publishing Group|May 1, 2013|Trade Paperback|ISBN: 978-0-7642-1046-4
When Eve Marryat’s father is laid off from the Ford Motor Company in 1931, he is forced to support his family by leaving St. Paul, Minnesota, and moving back to his Ohio roots. Eve’s uncle Cyrus has invited the family to live and work at his Marryat Island Ballroom and Lodge.
St. Paul seemed like a haven for gangsters, and Eve had grown fearful of living there. At seventeen, she considers her family to be “good people.” They aren’t lawbreakers and criminals like so many people in her old neighborhood. Thrilled to be moving to a “safe haven”, Eve is blissfully unaware that her Uncle’s lodge is a transfer station for illegal liquor smuggled from Canada.
Eve settles in to work and makes new friends, including an enigmatic but affecting young man. But when the reality of her situation finally becomes clear, Eve is faced with a dilemma. How can she ignore what is happening right under their very noses? Yet can she risk everything by condemning the man whose love and generosity is keeping her and her family from ruin?
Seventeen-year-old Eve Marryat left St. Paul, Minnesota on May 30, 1931 with her family. They were moving to Mercy, Ohio to live with her Uncle Cyrus. Her father was laid off from the Ford Motor Company and Uncle Cyrus had offered him a job at his Marryat Island Ballroom and Lodge. After a three day drive they arrived at the lodge. Uncle Cy’s wife, Cora, wasn’t there as she as convalescing in a tuberculosis sanitarium. This would also be the first time Eve’s father and his brother, Cy have seen each other in a number of years. They had had some type of argument back then but Eve didn’t know what it was about.
Cassandra Marryat was Eve’s sister who was now twenty-five-years-old but she didn’t make the move with the family. She was married now and her home was back in St. Paul. Cassandra and Eve were not close as a lot of sisters are. Eve saw Cassandra as “silly and shallow”, a party girl tailor-made for the twenties. The years were to prove her right when Cassandra ended up pregnant without a husband, and wasn’t even sure who the father was.
Too excited to sleep on her first night at the lodge, Eve wanders down the stairs and into the ballroom. She sees a record player and begins dancing and twirling until she stumbles and falls down. She backed into someone or something but couldn’t imagine what. Suddenly a hand extended into her vision. When she looked up, she fell back and stifled a scream. They guy withdrew his hand and said: “All right then…you can just get yourself up.” Eve knew what he was but had never seen one before – he was an albino. He had pale skin, stark white hair and two crimson eyes that glowed like rubies. Eve asked his name and he said it was, Jones which was his mother’s maiden name. It suddenly dawned on Eve that he was Cora’s son. When she asked Jones if Cora was his mother he responded yes. Eve asked why he wasn’t at Uncle Cy and Cora’s wedding and Jones said he had pneumonia so had to stay in Chicago with other relatives. Eve asked him why she had never heard about him before considering he’d lived there five years now and Uncle Cy have never told them either. Jones’s only response was: “It’s no secret, just because you don’t mention someone.” Eve was speechless, then felt bad at the way she acted and offered to start over. She reintroduced herself, told Jones it was nice to meet him but his features stiffened into a sneer, took one step back and said: “Yeah, I bet.” With that he turned and walked away.
Eve was sitting in a rowboat one morning thinking when Jones appeared on the dock. He wanted to go out rowing in the boat Eve was sitting in. She was about to climb out when Jones told her she didn’t have to, but “just move up to the front seat” he said. Jones began to row and Eve watched the water dripping off the oars as they came up from the water. A couple of boats passed them carrying boxes marked “castor oil”. Eve asked Jones where the men would be going with castor oil and he began to laugh and shake his head. Jones informed her it was “moonshine!” Eve was astounded and started into a speech about Prohibition and how moonshine was illegal. Jones saw it as a way for the men to feed their families and told Eve there were a lot of people around the area that made moonshine.
Later that evening, back in her room, Eve suddenly realized she didn’t feel safe and secure anymore. She was so happy to leave St. Paul where there were a lot of robberies, shootings, and stabbings. Eve and her family actually witnessed a man being shot which Eve still dreams about. She thought she’d feel so very safe at Marryat Lodge and was so elated to be there but this whole moonshine business burst her bubble of happiness and security.
One day a man about twenty showed up at the lodge for a meal. He was basically homeless and lived in a shantytown up the river near the railroad. Uncle Cy was a kind man, he fed anyone who showed up looking for food. He never turned anyone away. When Annie, the cook, had the plate of stew with some bread and lemonade ready, Eve took it out to the man. He told her his name was Link. Soon, Eve would have more to do with Link that she thought. Right now she views him as nothing more than a bum.
The whole idea of bootlegging is still very present in Eve’s mind and she wants absolutely nothing to do with it. However, it is much closer to her than she could ever have imagined and makes her lose faith in everything she believed. How is Eve possibly going to handle the devastating secret that is about to be exposed?
The stunning conclusion to this story will knock your socks off and make your heart race. It was unbelievably well-done! Ann Tatlock has written a masterpiece in Sweet Mercy and I would highly recommend this book to everyone. Great writing!
"Book has been provided courtesy of Baker Publishing Group and Graf-Martin Communications, Inc.
Available at your favourite bookseller from Bethany House, a division of Baker Publishing Group."