Friday, November 07, 2008

What They Wanted by Donna Morrissey

Yes, two reviews in one day! I am so far behind I figured I should get cracking!

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 uilt,responsibility, tragedy, and the enduring ties of family, this is vintage Donna Morrissey.
Words cannot describe how excited I was when I got the book magazine from my local bookstore and saw that Donna Morrissey had a new book out. I love Donna Morrissey! A few years ago I noticed Kit's Law at the bookstore and it caught my attention. It was right around my birthday or Christmas and I remember asking my mother if she would get me a copy of it. Downhill Chance was out at the same time, I believe, so I wound up reading both of them around the same time. I loved them! They are the perfect representation of small-town Canadian fishing towns. While they take place in Newfoundland, and I live in Nova Scotia, I could still see the history of my province in her writing. They are quaint, simple novels. The perfect books to curl up with on a rainy afternoon. They are like old friends to me, just looking at the books sitting on my shelf will take me back to the first time I read them and remind me of just how much I enjoyed them. I have since given both books as gifts to friends and family. It was sadly before blogging days when I read them, though.

Fast-forward to 2005. I had not really seen anything new from Morrissey, so she was off my radar for a while. Then, I was in a random bookstore in the city and there it was... a new book! Sylvanus Now was a surprise because I had not heard a word about it until I saw it sitting there on the shelf. So, it of course came home with me! I reviewed it back when I first started this blog, and I gave it a five out of five. Looking back, though, I did not enjoy it as much as her other two books, so it probably was a bit of a high rating.... In any case, it was another excellent read from Morrissey. Now we have her new book, What They Wanted. I knew about this one ahead of time, but I waited and bought it with my birthday money. I must not be the only person that loves her, though, because this one was released in hardcover.

This book is the sequel to Sylvanus Now. Sylvanus is all grown up and has children of his own. His daughter is the main character and it is she that tells the story. Sylvanus is still in the book, but a new generation is in the forefront. Sylvie was an interesting character. She has done what lots of people from the east coast have done, gone out west for easy money. She has came home for a visit, though, because her father has had a heart attack and is not in great shape. Always her fathers' daughter, she has to make sure that he is alright. While home she manages to talk her brother, Chris, into coming out west with her. That was not necessarily her intention, but that is what has happened. He has lost his fathers' boat and feels guilty about it, so he feels the need to make quick money and make up for what he has done.

The story moves back and forth from small town Newfoundland to a thriving economy in Alberta. Many people in todays age are likely finding that same story a part of their lives, so it is a very fitting setting. Alberta is the boomtown, while the east coast is suffering through over-fishing and a loss of a way of life. Morrissey is telling many peoples' story for this day and age. And, she tells it very well. Once again I was captivated with the story, and that always surprises me. I really prefer books with lots of action, and that is not really what Morrissey writes. She just writes what I know, I suppose. I have lived in small towns my whole life and I can see people I know in the characters that she writes. One of these days I might have to actually go to Newfoundland so I can really relate, but I think you can live in any of the towns on our eastern shore and know where she is coming from.

Another great book from Morrissey. She really is worth the read, I must say. I really want to reread her earlier books now, actually! Another book the I recommend and another book for The 2nd Canadian Challenge, Eh! I actually finished this book in October but I forgot I hadn't reviewed it until I saw my list and felt like something was missing for this challenge!

1 comment:

  1. Aother excellent and well thought out review! Both of these books are on my TBR.


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