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Once Upon A Bookshelf

Where Fiction and Reality Meet

The Deception of Livvy Higgs

Author: Donna Morrissey
Originally Published: 2012
Edition Courtney Read Published: 2013
Publisher: Penguin Canada
Source: Received a copy from the publisher

The Story

The Deception of Livvy HiggsFrom the back of the book:

In The Deception of Livvy Higgs, award-winning author Donna Morrissey introduces readers to an unforgettable character whose formidable strength is rooted in the harsh but beguiling landscape of the East Coast.

Halifax 2009. Over two traumatic days, Livvy Higgs is besieged by a series of small heart attacks. The ghost of her younger self leads her back to the French Shore of Newfoundland during the mid-thirties heyday of the Maritime shipping industry, through wartorn Halifax during the Battle of the Atlantic, and back to the present day. Caught between a troubled past and her tenuous circumstances, Livvy is forced to pick apart the untruths told by her greedy, prideful father and her formidable grandmother, knowing that the past and the present are inextricably entwined. And as the secrets start to unravel, she will finally find the redemption, forgiveness, and peace that only the truth can bring.

The Response

I was sent this book last summer, and it’s been sitting on my TBR pile for quite a while… I was much in need of something a little different from what I had been reading recently, and this seemed like it would definitely be what I was looking for… and in part it was, but in part it wasn’t quite what I was hoping for.

Let me start by saying that if you really like CanLit, then this very well may be a book you will love. I only really love a small percent of CanLit books – I find a lot of the stuff I don’t enjoy to be often to be heavy and depressing, with overwhelming themes of failure and struggle. This book was everything that I find difficult about CanLit. So much so that I was half-way through the book and had decided to give up on it… except then it got interesting.

This book takes place both on the French Shore of Newfoundland and in Halifax, and provides an interesting view of the east coast that I don’t often explore in fiction. I’ll be honest, if I’m reading something that takes place in the Maritimes, it’s more often something similar to what you could find written by L.M. Montgomery. This was grittier, and showed a lot more struggle between different cultures – the English and the Irish, the English and the French, etc.

The whole book, in fact, dealt a lot with struggle – whether it was between cultures, between two people, between telling what is right and allowing people to live in their happy misinformed lives…

As far as characters go, it was very much like we had two different Livvy’s in this book – one was a young girl, the other was very elderly. One was trying to discover the secrets of who her mother was, the other was keeping her own secrets from the world around her. As the story progressed, we slowly see how young Livvy is turning into the woman that we see later on, and why she is so secretive.

The secondary characters are all extremely lifelike – they have many dimensions, which we discover as Livvy starts to unveil them. It was difficult to guess who everyone really was and what their motivations were. I think was part of the reason that I kept pushing myself through this book, because I had no idea what to expect next.

I’m not sure whether I actually really enjoyed this book. I didn’t know what to expect going in, and it took me half the book to actually get interested. It was very well written and developed. But afterwards, I’m still reflecting on it, but I don’t know whether I liked it.

The Bottom Line

I would recommend this to fans of CanLit. I’m not sure at this point if I would read more of Morrissey’s work.

Posted by Courtney Wilson @ 7:07 am July 2, 2014.
Category: Fiction and Literature
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  • Jenn vanOosten

    Oooh, I’ve been looking for more Newfoundland books to read – I’m a BIG CanLit fan, esp East Coast (as dark as it may be, at times…). So. This is going on my list. Thanks! :)