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Wishing Shelf Book Reviews

‘A thoroughly engrossing legal drama highlighting and challenging the thorny subject of assisted dying. Highly recommended!’ The Wishing Shelf Book Reviews

Ad featuring 5 star review of book. Image is of jurors sitting in a jury box.

(May 13, 2024) I must say, I very much enjoyed this character focused novel from the talented pen of Marcy Lane. Accessibly written and often rather thought-provoking, I loved not only getting to know the characters but also contemplating the thorny subject of mercy killing.

So, what’s it about? Well, in a nutshell, it’s the story of a woman living in Canada where assisted dying is legal. She’s trying very hard to get over the loss of her partner when she suddenly finds herself a juror in a mercy-killing trial. What follows is a cleverly constructed legal drama, the protagonist struggling with her own thoughts and feelings on assisted dying whilst still trying to cope with the loss of the man she loved.

There were a number of elements of this story particularly enjoyed. Firstly, the author works well with dialogue, using it to not only develop her small cast of characters, but also the plot. Secondly, I like the protagonist. Not surprisingly, she’s rather broken in this novel; but I enjoyed watching her battle her way through. And thirdly, the novel is an excellent tool for exploring assisted dying and, whether you agree with it or not, this story will get you thinking.

I’m delighted to recommend this book to anybody who enjoys a well-constructed legal drama. I think they’ll enjoy rooting for the protagonist, and hoping she’ll find the truth she’s looking for. There’s also the odd comical moment which adds balance to the story; as a result, it’s not too depressing to read – it’s even got a few dogs in it!

All in all, a bit of a gem! (My emphasis added :))

‘Wishing Shelf’ Book Review

Foreword Clarion Review

(June 7, 2024) “A Mercy of Widows is a moving and nuanced novel about grief and forgiveness.” Foreword Clarion Reviews

Graphic showing 4 out of 5 stars

In Marcy Lane’s novel A Mercy of Widows, a Calgary woman acts as a caregiver for her sweetheart and, after his death, grapples with grief, guilt, and self-preservation.

Heddie suspended her dog training business to move in with her “ampersand” Hug after his terminal cancer diagnosis. He intended to give her his house and dog, Fella, but died before he could change his will. Three months later, Heddie returns from walking Fella and finds the locks changed, Hug’s brother Stanley in the house, and her belongings on the curb. She babysits for her friend Leah, a death doula, in return for lodging. But then Heddie becomes a juror in a murder case involving two advocates of assisted death: Molly is accused of killing her husband, who was dying of cancer. Protesters pack the streets and the courtroom. Stanley, a bailiff, disparages Heddie’s relationship with Hug. And Leah and Dee, Hug’s lawyer, set up mediation.

Heddie is a vehicle through which the book addresses Canada’s law on Medical Assistance in Dying (MAID), enacted in 2016 and amended since. Opinions about MAID and pertinent legal processes scaffold the plot, and more than half of the book takes place in the courtroom or jury room. Some related work is too didactic: a full page of text is devoted to describing the courtroom setting, including Heddie’s perceptions of the importance of judge, jury, lawyers, and others according to their seating design and placement. More humanizing are Heddie’s trial notes, which include doodles and sketches. Further, in the course of her courtroom observations, Heddie is prone to emphasizing people’s personalities and relationships more than legal procedures. She notes that a defense attorney wears cowboy boots “too floral for the insecure” at a price “too steep for the uncommitted,” while her impressions of her fellow jurors’ characteristics change as she spends more time with them.

The book’s characterizations are balanced, reflecting both positives and negatives. People exhibit flashes of anger and irritation but also compassion. Even Stanley, who seems so hard-hearted at the start of the novel, grows. Heddie, too, evolves over the course of the book, at first thinking that if she’d married Hug she and everyone else would acknowledge her right to grieve. Through hearing the court case, participating in mediation, and experiencing Leah’s support, her feelings of guilt are given space to be acknowledged and resolved.

In addition to its interrogations of personal control and ethics, the novel highlights family dysfunction well. Heddie’s sense of humor helps to temper the seriousness of this subject and others, cushioning the book’s prompts toward deeper thought in entertainment. Switches between points of view undermine these considerations a bit: in the case of Dee, Hug’s attorney, the perspective shifts to make room for clues about his will and intention. Heddie otherwise narrates, and her wry voice makes the intensity of past and present events more palatable. Still, the book’s opening is so heavy on her humor that it gives the false impression that the novel is an irreverent look at death. The tone shifts after Heddie dresses for jury selection and Fella saves a puppy, becoming serious about addressing its controversial contemporary topic. And descriptions of the protests, occasional Substack entries, and social media posts result in added realism.

The humane novel A Mercy of Widows is about variations of support for and opposition to assisted dying.

Finalist in Wishing Shelf Book Awards

(February 19, 2024) Big news, book lovers! A Mercy of Widows has scored a spot as a Finalist in the 2023 Wishing Shelf Book Awards, and I’m over the moon! So, what’s the big deal? Well, it means that out of about 200 readers reading nearly 300 novels (500 books total), a group of 15 dove into my book and rated it across 35 different criteria. And they scored it at least 25 out of 35 points to get it to finalist status – that’s something only about 30% of the books achieved!

Summary of Wishing Shelf Readers’ Feedback

Star Rating: 5 Stars
Number of Readers: 15

Stats
Editing: 10/10
Writing Style: 9/10
Content: 9/10
Cover: 5/5

Of the 15 readers:

  • 15 would read another book by this author.
  • 15 thought the cover was good or excellent.
  • 15 felt it was easy to follow.
  • 15 would recommend this book to another reader to try.
  • Of all the readers, 4 felt the author’s strongest skill was ‘plotting a story’.
  • Of all the readers, 7 felt the author’s strongest skill was ‘developing the characters’.
  • Of all the readers, 4 felt the author’s strongest skill was ‘writing style’.
  • 14 felt the pacing was good or excellent.
  • 15 thought the author understood the readership and what they wanted.
Readers’ Comments


“Anybody interested in assisted dying will find this novel mesmerising. The plotting is excellent, the character development is strong and the suspense in the second half of the novel is top notch.” Female reader, aged 54


“Interesting mix of a woman suffering personal loss and, at the same time, having to face the ethics of assisted dying. Very much a character-led story, this is as much thought-provoking as it is a good read! I enjoyed getting to know the female protagonist and I was rooting for her to find her way through the mess of dilemmas facing her.” Female reader, aged 39


“What a FAB read this is! The author’s adept at developing her characters and offering the reader a tightly plotted story with plenty of twists. The Canada setting is particularly interesting as the laws on assisted dying seem to be very different to here in the UK. Not a ‘fun’ book, but it is thought-provoking and very hard to put down.” Male reader, aged 66


“A challenging subject taken on by a smart author who knows how to tell a story.” Male reader, aged 69

To Sum It Up


‘A compelling, character-led novel looking at the thought-provoking and often challenging subject of assisted dying. A FINALIST and highly recommended!’ The Wishing Shelf Book Awards

Interview on Scribes and Songsters

(January 29, 2024) Watch my interview with Veronique Mandal on her show, Scribes and Songsters! (It’s now available on youtube.) Veronique knows how to throw some curveball questions, and let me tell you, dodging spoilers was tougher than I thought. Despite the challenge, we had a blast. Huge shoutout to Veronique and her crew for being such top-notch hosts. (Here’s the direct link to the show on YouTube.)

Book Launch

(October 4, 2023) I celebrated the launch of my debut novel, A Mercy of Widows, surrounded by over 40 friends and family members who helped make the event special. The evening was a heartfelt DIY affair, with friends handling decorations and catering, my brother emceeing, and a close friend introducing me. I performed a reading, and we captured it all on video for my mother, who was too ill to attend. The support and love I felt that night were overwhelming, truly marking a warm beginning for my book’s journey into the world.

Me standing by a poster board announcing my book.

Goodreads Reviews

I love the Goodreads readers’ community. It’s a place where readers get to chat about their favourite books, occasionally “meet” authors, and provide heartfelt reviews as recommendations to other readers.

You can read more reviews of my book here on Goodreads.

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