THE QUALITY OF MERCY by Faye Kellerman


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From the author of suspense thrillers The Ritual Bath (1986) and Sacred and Profane (1987): a sprawling historical tale of a Jewish maiden who enlists Shakespeare's aid in rescuing her father from execution by the Queen. Rebecca Lopez, the radiant daughter of Queen Elizabeth's court physician, causes trouble from the beginning by her resistance to marriage--as well as by her penchant for dressing as a man and wandering unaccompanied through London's plague-ridden streets. Her family are Portuguese ""conversos""--Jews forced to convert to Christianity--who are involved in smuggling other conversos from Iberia to the relatively tolerant hills of England. The family's illegal activities make Rebecca's rebelliousness all the more threatening, and her father spends a good deal of time pleading with her to behave. But just as Rebecca resigns herself to a practical marriage, she meets William Shakespeare--while she's dressed as a man--and falls madly in love. The Jewish heroine and Anglican playwright swear undying devotion, but in fact neither can bear to desert their families and elope. Instead, Rebecca proves her love by helping Shakespeare wreak revenge on the man who killed his mentor, Harry Whitman, while Shakespeare helps Rebecca hijack a boat to rescue her betrothed from the hands of the murderous Spanish. When Rebecca's father fails out of the Queen's favor and is condemned to die, Rebecca must finally decide between romantic love and filial duty. Though earnestly self-rightousness wherever religious issues appear, Kellerman's latest does boast a number of amusing cameos--in particular, Queen Elizabeth, an aging lesbian whose shrewd, unsentimental outlook might have benefited the book as a whole. Still, melodramatic but entertaining.

Pub Date: June 20th, 1989
ISBN: 0061582514
Publisher: Morrow