The Mercy of Thin Air follows Razi's life or more accurately, her afterlife. Through flashbacks interspersed throughout the book, we learn about her life, her love--Andrew, and her dreams. Planning to become an obstetrician and being deeply in love with Andrew are not enough; when Andrew asks her one day what she really wants--her answer is "to be immortal." She explains that one lifetime is not enough for all of the trouble she is capable of causing!
The novel bounces between generations, time periods and cities in Louisiana--though never very far. As Razi searches for her lost Andrew, she moves in with a couple, Scott and Amy, and becomes concerned with their struggling marriage Amy's issues. As she gets involved, they reunite Razi with people from her own past. She is joined by a few friends who are also in "the between"--souls who have left earth but not yet gone on to what lies beyond.
Traveling between time periods was a little disconcerting at first but it did not take long to become accustomed to the rythym of the book. Of course, I am a sucker for a good story set in New Orleans and this novel did not disappoint! In addition to familiar locations and compelling characters, the novel deals with issues that may not seem as compelling today. By 1929, women had won the vote but did not have access to birth control. Razi, attending one of the few universities that admitted women at that time, leaves literature hidden in the college's library and hosts secret parties to give this information to other women.