Donald believes he knows all there is to know about seeing. An optometrist in suburban Boston, he is sure that he and his wife, Viv, who runs the local stables, are both devoted to their two children and to each other. Then Mercury—a gorgeous young thoroughbred with a murky past—arrives at Windy Hill and everything changes.
...[a] remarkable, powerful novel ... The book’s concluding chapters are finely nuanced as Donald wrestles with his moral dilemma, and his own unwitting contributions to it. Does he make the right decision? It’s impossible to know, but Livesey makes you wonder and reconsider — and admire her skill in giving you no obvious answers.
...our interest derives less from the piecing together of clues and practical facts than from the surprisingly moving voice of the narrator himself ... Livesey’s prose has a brusque sensuality: It reads lucid and forthright and lean ... In constructing a narrator who is at once transparent and opaque, Livesey roots tension not just in the bones but in the very marrow of the book. In the end, this is not so much a crime novel as a novel about a trial: the story of one man’s austere endeavor to hold himself to account.
At best, this [alternating narrators] mechanism offers a subtle commentary on the way Viv and Donald process their shared life. But Mercury suffers from a self-consciousness that undermines whatever elegant observation this mechanism allows. Both Don and Viv indicate that they’re writing down their own version of events. But why are they doing this? To exchange their true confessions like pen pals sending missives from the living room to the kitchen? ... It’s a book that doesn’t quite measure up to its ambitions.