- Paperback: 336 pages
- Publisher: Penguin Canada; 1 edition (May 17 2005)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0143014250
- ISBN-13: 978-0143014256
- Product Dimensions: 13.3 x 2.3 x 21 cm
- Shipping Weight: 227 g
- Average Customer Review: 10 customer reviews
- Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #1,722,337 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
Sylvanus Now Paperback – May 17 2005
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Sylvanus Now, the hero of Donna Morrissey's moving third novel, is a man with modest ambitions--he wants to fish in the old way, like his father before him, and he wants to marry Adelaide, the beautiful girl he spied once at a dance in Ragged Rock. Newfoundland's fishery, however, is on the verge of catastrophic change, and Adelaide proves more of an enigma than the rugged, black-browed Sylvanus imagines. Set in the early 1950s, against the backdrop of the collapse of the salt-fish industry, Sylvanus Now combines a passionate critique of government short-sightedness with a tender love story about two people who probably shouldn't have married but did.
Morrissey's lushly written narrative, steeped in outport dialect ("Cripes, why don't you ask Am for a spot on his liner? You're getting like father, bandied at the knees from straddling a boat"), alternates between Sylvanus's and Adelaide's points of view. While Sylvanus clings to his traditional ways with a reckless tenacity, Addie is a fireball of conflicting emotions, forever spewing invective or else brooding in silence. Forced to drop out of school by her perennially pregnant mother, she rails against fishing ("she prayed that each fish caught would be the last in the sea") and babies ("their grubby little hands forever snatching, picking and scratching"). Yet, before long, she finds herself married to her fisherman suitor and expecting their first child--a recipe for disaster if ever there was one. Sylvanus Now owes much to the tradition of naturalistic working-class fiction that produced Frank Parker Day's Rockbound--not surprising when one recalls that Morrissey championed Day's novel during the 2005 Canada Reads debate on CBC Radio. Like Rockbound, this quietly unassuming historical novel celebrates old-fashioned values like perseverance, and is bound to bring a tear to the eye. --Lisa Alward
About the Author
Donna Morrissey is the award-winning author of four adult novels—Kit’s Law, Downhill Chance, Sylvanus Now, which was shortlisted for the Commonwealth Writers’ Prize, and What They Wanted—as well as the Gemini Award–winning screenplay Clothesline Patch. Morrissey grew up in The Beaches, a small fishing outport in Newfoundland, and now lives in Halifax.See all Product description
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The Now family will be with you always!
When was the last time you read a book that was so beautifully written that you took the time to reread passages? “She’d seen the soft green of the first seedling push its head above ground and quiver upon the slightest breath.” “Sylvanus Now” is not only the title but the name of the main character, a stubborn man , who wants to live a simple life of fishing in a tiny village on the coast of Newfoundland. He figures out exactly how much fish he must catch and prepare in order to buy a new suit. He wins the heart of Adelaide who is the oldest of a large brood of kids. She can’t wait to leave the ruckus and the fishing way of life behind. But her life has other plans for her. The love story between Sylvanus and Addie, the relationship with the sea and the historical narrative of the fishing industry make for a captivating read. One cannot help but respect those fisherman of years gone by. Quite an eye-opener and a great story!
third book Sylvanus Now as her best, but I'm not, so I will begin my
review by saying that it is absolutely brilliant. Those of you who are
fortunate enough to have read her first two books (Kit's Law and
Downhill Chance) already know what an insightful, sensitive and
exquisite writer Morrissesy is (and those who haven't read the first
two books - please go, buy and read them - now -, you'll be forever
thankful to me for this suggestion). Well, turns out, Sylvanus Now is
even a fuller book than her first two. While, as before, Morrissey
reaches into the deepest folds of her characters' psyches, and
presents their human struggles to us in her most real, and near
poetic, prose, this time she also presents a drama of huge
proportions - the still unfolding saga of the Newfoundland (and
Atlantic) fishery -, through the eyes and the minds of those who have
been there to foresee, warn, and then helplessly witness (as
everyone who counted dismissed their warnings), and live with the
devastating consequences of the destruction of the - their - fishery
that sustained them, and that they had nurtured, for centuries.
If you are looking for a book to take you away, and bring you back to
earth, at the same time, Sylvanus Now is your book. You will fall in
love, once again, with Donna Morrissey's powerful writing, and be
captivated with her characters and her plot. Another superb gift to us
from this exceptionally gifted writer.
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