Originally posted on my blog Guiltless Reading
My two cents: I entered the giveaway for this at GoodReads because I felt the need to better acquaint myself with Canadian authors. This is my first time reading Donna Morrissey. She doesn't disappoint with this lovely combination of historical fiction and family saga.
Livvy Higgs is - a harmless, rather forgetful octogenarian - who living alone, seems better with family or in a home. Looking out for her is her neighbour, Gen, a single mother studying to be a social worker.
When Livvy's health takes a turn with for the worse, she hallucinates and revisits her painful past, thus starting a shifting in the book from past and present and back again.
Growing up in a rather lonely childhood, Livvy remembers her martyred mother, her austere father, and a scheming grandmother, and her seeking solace in her neighbour Missus Louis and her family. Most important of all, she distinctly remembers a seeming conspiracy between her father and her Grandmother Creed -- a secret that weighs on Livvy heavily as she sees her mother suffering as a consequence.
The Higgs family is a shipping family in Newfoundland in the mid-thirties. As Livvy's past unfolds, we become privvy to their lives embroiled in politics and the sordid secrets of the Maritime shipping industry.
This is among the best-told stories I have read in a while, coherent overall yet surprising in how I see the emotional unravelling of Livvy as she learns of the lifelong deception and a betrayal that is difficult to come to terms with. Her "truth" metamorphoses into yet another "truth," highlighting that how we make sense of people at a certain time in our lives ... can be totally be disproven as we gain a better understanding of ourselves, the circumstances, and of other people's secret selves.
I have no doubt that this story will resonate with many, as well as appeal to Canadian historical fiction fans.
Verdict: A page-turning family saga that reveals the deception that many of us inevitably live with.