cover image Catherine’s Mercy

Catherine’s Mercy

Nicole Evelina. Chalice, $17.99 trade paper (280p) ISBN 978-08-272-0750-9

In this spirited historical, Evelina (America’s Forgotten Suffragists) dramatizes the life and legacy of Catherine McAuley, the Catholic lay woman and later nun who founded the Sisters of Mercy religious order in 19th-century Dublin, Ireland. In 1822, 42-year-old Catherine receives an unexpected inheritance from a former employer, which she dreams of using to found a haven for disadvantaged women and children, despite opposition from Dublin’s Lord and Lady Montague—who employ destitute women as servants—as well as members of the Catholic church who feel she’s overstepping her bounds as a woman (even her brother calls the plan “Kitty’s folly”). Meanwhile, a group of women who’ve worked for Lord Montague and endured his sexual abuse become prostitutes, and desperately seek shelter at Catherine’s House of Mercy when it opens in September 1827, adding to the endeavor’s high stakes. Evelina skillfully sketches a fearless female leader in the Catholic church who stood up to naysayers to fight for the rights of the underprivileged, and readers will celebrate her triumphs. It’s a lively ode to a trailblazing woman. (Nov.)