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This deeply moving novel explores the role mercy and justice play in the historical dynamics shaping England in 1767. Erasmus Kemp, the son of a slave ship owner who committed suicide, fights a legal battle against abolitionists who defy the predominant “worship of property” that allows the sale of slaves, human beings made in God’s image. At the same time, Kemp is drawn into the lives of miners in northern England’s coal mines as they face imprisonment of another kind. Each of Unsworth’s characters, drawn with compassion and complexity, faces a choice to offer mercy or to refrain from doing so. (Doubleday)

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