Obsession, betrayal, and jealousy set the stage for Mercury by Margot Livesey. Donald and Vivian have found a life many dream of. Donald is busy in his practice of Ophthalmology but after the children are born Don gives up his surgery, focusing instead on exams and vision correction.
He moves to the countryside with his family. One of Vivian’s passions is riding yet when her children are born, she gives up the idea of a career in riding. After moving, her friend Claudia set her up to train new riders, moving her back into the field she loves. While most of her family including Donald are not big fans of horses, she needs an outlet, and riding is her love.
Mercury, belongs to the mother of one of her worst students. Mercury is a 5-year old Thoroughbred and the owner wants to board him at Wendy Hill, Viv’s place of work. The animal had belonged to the new owner’s brother and she had no where to keep him. She agreed for Vivian to ride and keep Mercury exercised, but even from the beginning, she seemed jealous of the animal, relating some of the stories her brother told her, as he declined in health.
He worried constantly about the horse, and often felt someone was following him, and even riding the animal without permission. He began to act in secretive ways, and he changed, leaving his family to worry endlessly. For Hilary, his new owner, Mercury spelled trouble, but was also a connection to the past and the brother she loved.
Vivian could see the merits of Mercury and didn’t really believe that anyone else could make him as successful as she herself could. What began as a love of a gorgeous and talented horse, became more. She found herself constantly checking up on him, she was ignoring her other chores and the other animals she cared for began to suffer. When it was brought to her attention, she realized that she had allowed herself to become obsessed, and backed herself and her emotions down, spending more time to take care of the other horses, and work harder on training her students.
Yet somehow Mercury had gotten into her soul, and she can’t stop obsessing. Hilary and Claudia are both concerned as Vivian continues to worry. Much like Hilary’s brother she began to feel that someone was trying to harm Mercury. In her concern she decides that she must act on her own. No one else understands the danger.
As Vivian’s obsession explodes, she researches and finds a gun, for protection. Lying to her family and her friends she set traps for an intruder hoping she can she find the answers before it is too late? Why can no one understand her fears? Will she go too far in her search for truth?
Livesey takes you deep into the darkness of obsession, and gives us a glimpse of what can occur. Her characters are an eclectic mix, and as they are drawn together into a tangled group, creating friendships and relationships, not one of them sees the undercurrent of danger that will pull them in.
They each are very likable, and you find yourself wondering why there seems to be such an energy around this mysterious horse. Yet you too begin to wonder, is there truly something amiss? Will anyone’s life ever be the same?
If you enjoy mystery you will find this work remarkable. If you are interested in horses, and the interaction of people, this is a find that will satisfy your craving. But be prepared to be surprised, for Livesey takes you on a journey of twisting and winding happenings, where you begin question your own thoughts.
This would be a great book for a reading group or book club.