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The Son of a Certain Woman [Deckle Edge] [Hardcover]

Wayne Johnston
3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (10 customer reviews)
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Book Description

Sept. 17 2013

Here comes Percy Joyce.
From one of Canada’s most acclaimed, beloved storytellers: The Son of a Certain Woman is Wayne Johnston’s funniest, sexiest novel yet, controversial in its issues, wise, generous and then some in its depiction of humanity.
Percy Joyce, born in St. John’s, Newfoundland, in the fifties is an outsider from childhood, set apart by a congenital disfigurement. Taunted and bullied, he is also isolated by his intelligence and wit, and his unique circumstances: an unbaptized boy raised by a single mother in a fiercely Catholic society. Soon on the cusp of teenagehood, Percy is filled with yearning, wild with hormones, and longing for what he can’t have—wanting to be let in...and let out. At the top of his wish list is his disturbingly alluring mother, Penelope, whose sex appeal fairly leaps off the page. Everyone in St. John’s lusts after her—including her sister-in-law, Medina; their paying boarder, the local chemistry teacher, Pops MacDougal; and...Percy.
Percy, Penelope, and Pops live in the Mount, home of the city’s Catholic schools and most of its clerics, none of whom are overly fond of the scandalous Joyces despite the seemingly benign protection of the Archbishop of Newfoundland himself, whose chief goal is to bring “little Percy Joyce” into the bosom of the Church by whatever means necessary. In pursuit of that goal, Brother McHugh, head of Percy’s school, sets out to uncover the truth behind what he senses to be the complicated relationships of the Joyce household. And indeed there are dark secrets to be kept hidden: Pops is in love with Penelope, but Penelope and Medina are also in love—an illegal relationship: if caught, they will be sent to the Mental, and Percy, already an outcast of society, will be left without a family.
The Son of a Certain Woman brilliantly mixes sorrow and laughter as it builds toward an unforgettable ending. Will Pops marry Penelope? Will Penelope and Medina be found out? Will Percy be lured into the Church? It is a reminder of the pain of being an outsider; of the sustaining power of love and the destructive power of hate; and of the human will to triumph.

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Product Details

Product Description


FINALIST 2014 – Stephen Leacock Award

"Wayne Johnston's genius for extravagant storytelling soars to new heights in The Son of a Certain Woman."
—Nancy Wigston, Toronto Star

"Johnston is the kind of storyteller who can go well past the point of believability with his tale, yet still give the reader a true sense of the history and flavour of his hometown of St. John's, and say something essential about human nature while he's at it."
—The Gazette

"Percy, despite his psychological peculiarities, has a captivating voice that won't be soon forgotten in Canadian literature."

"[A] boisterously engaging coming-of-age story. Dialogue and conversation propel much of a story that's intelligent, funny and sexy."
—Winnipeg Free Press

About the Author

WAYNE JOHNSTON was born and raised in the St. John's area of Newfoundland. His #1 nationally bestselling novels include The Divine Ryans, A World Elsewhere, The Custodian of Paradise, The Navigator of New York and The Colony of Unrequited Dreams, which will be made into a film. Johnston is also the author of an award-winning and bestselling memoir, Baltimore's Mansion. He lives in Toronto.

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Customer Reviews

Most helpful customer reviews
8 of 10 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Entertaining but ultimately disappointing. Oct. 9 2013
By D. Dean
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
This was the second of Wayne Johnston's novels I've read - the first (some years ago) was 'The Navigator of New York' which I remember plodding through and finding rather dull, so it often surprises me when I read that Johnston is known for his humour and satire. 'The Son of a Certain Woman' couldn't have been more different to that other book (or at least my memory of it) and for the first 100 pages or so I loved it - so big-hearted and genuinely funny. But its central concept of the disfigured son who lusts after his beautiful mother for me eventually became the novel's undoing and I found the last couple of hundred pages not only increasingly disturbing, but also disappointing as the novel never really goes anywhere, and the final scene where Percy's thoughts of his mother during his baptism bring on a state of “religious” ecstasy? Preposterous, and if it had occurred earlier in the book I may have abandoned it. “Here comes Percy Joyce” indeed…

Whilst reading this I kept thinking of one of my favourite novels of a couple of years ago: Anne Peile’s ‘Repeat it Today with Tears’ which dealt with a girl tracking down her absent father and deliberately beginning an affair with him – that too could have been sensationalist and tawdry but Peile handled it with such sensitivity and made the characters so believable that as a reader I ended up almost rooting for them. Mother/son incest is a different kettle of fish altogether though, and by treating it as comedy Johnston doesn’t even attempt to try and challenge the reader’s preconceptions – he (or Percy) tries to convince us about Percy’s lust several times, but I felt like he was almost trying to convince himself too and I just couldn’t buy into it.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars The Son of a Certain Woman April 2 2014
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
I have read Wayne Johnston novel before this one is different maybe that is why I did not like it.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars disappointing Dec 26 2013
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
I was disappointed in the book as I do not feel that it is up to the standard he set with his previous books.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Different but captivating Dec 17 2013
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
Originally I thought the subject matter a bit strange, but as I got into the book, i was caught up in it and could hardly put it down to go to sleep. The bizarre home situation coupled with the school/church involvement intrigued me, and from the first 100 pages onward the theme started to make sense to me.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Must read Dec 6 2013
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
Nothing like Newfoundland humor, the catholic church, loose morals and realistic, sometimes offensive, language to make a great story. The ending was disappointing to me. But that's just personal preference. The story was Johnston's usual great quality.
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