My Books

book cover, The Fortunate Brother

The Fortunate Brother (2017)

View on GoodReads – 116 reviews / 3.76 star rating based on 489 votes

Penguin Canada, 2016
Canongate, UK, 2017
Winner of Thomas Raddall Award, 2017
Winner Arthur Ellis Award for Best Crime Novel of the Year, 2017

Read Reviews… ‘Excellently realized… incredible writing, with enviable prose on pretty much every page….The writing is impressive enough to draw comparisons with the likes of Annie Proulx, Evie Wyld, Wells Tower, and Smith Henderson. It’s impressive enough to make you want to order every book in her back catalogue and book yourself a week off work…’
–, ‎Review by Nigel
‘…an absolutely cracking read.’- Bookmunch, UK‘…one of the very best literary novels I have read in years’- Ron Rash, NY Times bestselling author of Serena‘…it felt like a privilege to read this book, such is the quality of the writing. A hauntingly beautiful intense character driven novel.’-Bookmunch, UK

After being uprooted from their fishing outport, the Now family is further devastated by the tragic loss of their eldest son, Chris, who died working on an Alberta oil rig. Kyle Now is still mourning his older brother when the murder of a local bully changes everything. The victim’s blood is found on the family’s pier, and suspicion falls first on an alienated wife, and then finally on the troubled Now family.

But behind this new turmoil, Chris’s death continues to plague the family. Father Sylvanus Now drowns his sorrow in a bottle, while mother Addie is facing breast cancer. And the children fight their own battles as the tension persists between Kyle and his sister, Sylvie, over her role in their brother’s death.

A cast of vivid characters surrounds the Now family, some intriguing, others comical–all masterfully crafted. As the murder mystery unfolds, other deeper secrets are revealed. Wise in the ways of the heart, The Fortunate Brother is a moving family drama from beloved storyteller Donna Morrissey.

Book cover showing young Livvey Higgs with suitcase

The Deception of Livvy Higgs (2012)

View on GoodReads – 110 Reviews / 3.7 star rating based on 531 votes

Penguin Canada, 2012
Shortlisted for Dartmouth Book Award
Shortlisted for Thomas Raddall Award
Shortlisted for Ontario Evergreen Award
Nominated for Lieutenant Governor of NS Master Works Award, 2017
Selected as Nova Scotian’s One Book to Read, 2017

Read Reviews…

‘Distinctive, frenetic and haunting.’- Globe and Mail‘…startling images that stand out for their power and imagination…(a) unique voice rich in vernacular.’- Quill and Quire‘Livvy Higgs sears like a comet across a dark sky and burns into the reader’s heart. Destined to become a classic.’- Chronicle Herald‘Will pull you in with the force of a riptide.’-Winnipeg Free Press

For two traumatic days, Livvy Higgs is besieged by a series of small heart attacks while the ghost of her younger self leads her back through a past devastated by lies and secrets. The story opens in Halifax in 2009, travels back to the French Shore of Newfoundland during the mid-thirties and the heyday of the Maritime shipping industry, makes its way to wartorn Halifax during the battle of the Atlantic in World War II, then leaps ahead to the bedside of the elder Livvy.

Caught between a troubled past and her present, worsening living conditions, Livvy is forced to pick apart the untruths told by her greedy, prideful father, Durwin Higgs, who judges her a failure, and her formidable Grandmother Creed, who has mysteriously aligned herself with Livvy’s father, despite their mutual hatred. Writing at the height of her power, Donna Morrissey creates unforgettable characters rooted in a harsh but beguiling landscape. In The Deception of Livvy Higgs, she weaves a powerful tale, the Stone Angel of the East Coast.

Man sitting alone on a kitchen chair, grieving

What They Wanted (2008)

View on GoodReads – 36 Reviews / 3.6 stars based on 359 votes

Penguin Canada, 2008
Deutscher Taschenbuch Verlag GmbH & Co. KG., Germany
Shortlisted for Booksellers Choice Award, 2009
Globe & Mail top 100 list

Read Reviews…
‘…passionate, sensitive, emotionally exposed…Read this book!’– Globe & Mail‘Compassionate, insightful, and gripping.’– Winnipeg Free Press‘…harrowing midway ride that has us strapped in our seats…’– Toronto Star‘…the most moving description of grief I have ever read…’– Literary Review of Canada‘An absolute original.’- David Adams Richards

In What They Wanted, the second part of the Sylvanus Now Trilogy, award-winning author Donna Morrissey explores both new and familiar terrain: a divided house on the shores of Newfoundland and the equally challenging environment of an Alberta oil rig. After Sylvanus has a heart attack, family tensions rise to the fore. Sylvie must deal with her feelings of estrangement from her mother, Addie. Meanwhile, Chris, a natural artist, frustrates his dreams by going to work on the rig. A novel about guilt, responsibility, tragedy, and the enduring ties of family, this is vintage Donna Morrissey.

In her new novel, What They Wanted, award winning author Donna Morrissey explores both new and familiar terrain: the wild shores of a Newfoundland outport and the equally wild environment of an Alberta oil rig. After Sylvanus Now suffers a heart attack, family tensions come to the fore: daughter Sylvie must deal with her feelings of estrangement from her mother, Addie, while her brother Chris, a natural artist, frustrates his dreams by going to work on an oil rig. A novel about guilt, responsibility, tragedy, and the enduring ties of family, this is vintage Donna Morrissey.

Cover of Sylvanus Now showing man alone in Dory, paddling into the Atlantic

Sylvanus Now (2009)

View on GoodReads – 79 Reviews / 3.8 stars based on 784 votes

Penguin Canada, Canada, 2005
Hodder & Stoughton, UK, 2005
Norton, USA, 2005
Deutscher Taschenbuch Verlag, Germany, 2007
Winner of Thomas Raddall Award, 2005
Winner of Booksellers Choice Award, 2005
Shortlisted for Commonwealth Award, 2005

Read Reviews… “Breathtakingly beautiful.– Alistair MacLeod”“The big hit of Can-Lit.”– Montreal Gazette“Absorbing human drama, in Morrissey’s best yet.”- Kirkus“Pulses with feeling…poised, charged, tactile, almost biblical”- The Sunday Times, England“Powerful, moving… vivid”– Quill and Quire“Destined to become a classic.”– Luan Gaines/Reviewer/CA/USA/ 2005

The time is the 1950s, and the place is Canada’s Atlantic coast at the edge of the great Newfoundland fishing banks. Sylvanus Now is a young fisherman of great charm and strength. His youthful desires are simple: he wants a suit to lure a girl—the fine-boned beauty Adelaide—and he knows exactly how much fish he has to catch to pay for it. Adelaide, however, has other dreams. She longs to escape the sea, the fish, and the stultifying community, but her need of refuge from her own troubled family leads her to Sylvanus and life in the neighbouring outport.

Set against the love story of Addie and Sylvanus is the sea, the Great Mother that is on the cusp of cataclysmic change. Caught between his desire to please his wife and his strongly independent nature, Sylvanus must decide what path his future will take.

Cover of Downhill Chance showing men in fishing dory

Downhill Chance (2002)

View on GoodReads – 31 reviews / 3.8 stars based on 526 votes

Penguin Canada, Canada, 2002
Houghton Mifflen, USA, 2003
Hodder & Stoughton, UK, 2002
Bokforlaget, Stockholm, (translated), 2002
Winner of the Thomas Raddall Award, 2002
Shortlisted for the Canadian Booksellers Association Novel of the Year Award, 2002

Read Reviews…
“A Newfoundland Thomas Hardy…”– Globe and Mail“Stunning…Morrissey’s latest novel wrings the heart”– Newfoundland Herald“She has built a rich, sensuously specific world…Morrissey is simply a terrific storyteller.”– Sunday Post, Dublin“Morrissey’s prose, threaded with echoes of Shakespeare and Carl Jung, is a perfect fit for her almost mythical story of fractured families, wars, and homecomings”– Quill and Quire

With the bestselling and beloved Kit’s Law, Donna Morrissey established herself as a stunning new voice in Canadian fiction. With Downhill Chance, she has crafted a captivating successor, and in Clair Gale, she has created an unforgettable heroine.

Clair is the unsinkable heart of the novel, a story of two families during wartime—the Osmonds and the Gales—joined by love, yet torn apart by fear and secrets. Morrissey blends melodrama, gritty realism and a flair for the comic in this unique novel. At its core is the unravelling of secrets—and the redemption that truth ultimately brings to the people who inhabit these pages so memorably.

Cover of Kits Law showing young Newfoundland girl walking through grass

Kit’s Law (1999)

View on GoodReads – 151 Reviews / 3.8 star rating based on 2,444 votes

Penguin Canada, Canada, 1999
Houghton Mifflen, USA, 2001
Hodder & Stodder, UK, 2000
Diana Verlag, Germany (translated), 2000
Aoyama Publishing, Japan (translated), 2001
Bokforlaget Forum, Sweden (translated), 2000
Cairo Editore, Italy, 2008; Cairo Editore, Italy (translated), 2009
Winner of US Margaret Alexander Edwards Award, 2001
Winner of Libris, First Time Author of the Year Award, 2002
Winner of Winifred Holtby Prize in England, 2002
Short listed for several awards including Chapters’ annual first novel award, 2000
Selected by Barnes and Noble, USA, as one of their ‘discovery novel of the season’, 2003

Read Reviews…
“Stunning debut.”– Telegraph, London UK“Impossible to put down.”– Sunday Business Post, Ireland“Speaks directly to the heart.”– Globe and Mail“Donna Morrissey has created…an extraordinary trinity of women.”– Thomas Keneally, author of Schindler’s List

It is the Fifties in an isolated outport in Newfoundland. Nothing penetrates this antiquated existence, as television, telephones, cars, even roads, elude the villagers and the only visitors are fog-bound fishermen. Here, outside of Haire’s Hollow, lives 14-year old Kit Pitman with her mentally handicapped mother Josie — both women cared for and protected by the indomitable Lizzie, Kit’s grandmother. The three live a life of some hardship, but much love, punctuated by the change of seasons in the isolated gully where they live.

Then a tragic change in their circumstances brings back an old threat — that Josie be sent to an institution and Kit to an orphanage. Advancing this argument is the Reverend Ropson, who from the pulpit decries Josie as the “Gully Tramp.” Defending the women is Doc Hodgson, who brought Kit into the world and knows the secrets of her birth. An uneasy truce is forged, with the Reverend’s son Sid acting as spy and woodcutter, while village women supply food and gossip. Josie delights in Sid’s visits, and Kit grows to love him.

There is another menace in Haire’s Hollow — the notorious rapist and killer known as Shine. When Shine attacks Kit in a drunken rage, it sets off a chain of events that leads to further violence and a terrible revelation. Kit and Sid must decide which laws of God and man apply in their despairing world and how much misery they can bear.

Kit’s Law is a stunning debut written with the stark rawness of character and landscape of the Rock itself. It evokes the lyrical gifts of E. Annie Proulx, the emotional power of Wally Lamb, and the compelling storytelling of Ann-Marie MacDonald. At its centre is the innocence and determination of Kit herself, a young woman who experiences extremes of pain on the way to redemption. As she says: “It is better to sense nothing at all, to move through the world and glimpse it from a distance, then to split God’s gift in half and live in its underside, with no rays of light dispersing the darkness.


Winner of Atlantic Film Festival Script Writing Competition, 1998

– Winner of Atlantic Film Festival Script Writing Competition, 1999
– Produced for CBC Television, 2001
– Winner of five awards, including best film at the California Film Festival, 2001
– Gemini nomination for Best Writing category, 2001
– Gemini nomination and winner for Best Short Production, 2001


RED CARPET CAPER, The Walrus, Jan/Feb, 2008
PINK IN A PORSCHE, Globe and Mail, Print Edition 10/08/06 Page R2
KILLER RIDGE, The Walrus, September 2005
GOD IN A PICK-UP TRUCK,The Walrus, Dec 2014/Jan 2015, Shortlist for the CBC Literary Awards, 2003
MISSING DAD, Abridged copy published in Canadian Geographic, September/October, 2003
DAD THE BARBARIAN, Canadian Geographic, March/April, 2006