Wednesday, March 27, 2013

The Deception Of Livvy Higgs

The Deception of Livvy Higgs was simply fantastic.  It might be the best book I've read so far this year*.  Donna Morrissey's prose was haunting and lyrical.  I didn't know that a story about an old lady could have me so captivated.  I was lucky to win it from Penguin Canada.  The characters are what really make this story, but if you're interested in Newfoundland and Nova Scotia during World War II, this is a great book to read.  I really enjoyed the "franglais" of the Newfoundlanders.  I wonder, is this what happens when someone is fully bilingual?  Is this common of people on the East Coast?  Was Halifax really like that when the war ended?  The novel, especially the end, had me wondering about Canadian history.

I might have been a little in love with Henri.  He's such a rogue, but he's honest and he loves Livvy.  I also enjoyed the contrast of the present (2009) with the story set in the past.  Gen's problems seem real and modern, as if this single mother could possibly be in your social work classes.  I love how she defends her brother from an old lady's preconceptions.  It seems that Livvy had been so angry for so long, finally at the end, I think she is letting it go.

Minor Spoilers

There are a lot of "deceptions" in this story.  There are Livvy's father's and mother's, her grandmothers' lies upon lies, her beloved Missus Louis, even Henri.  Eventually she learns all their truths.  She was hardened as a child, by the death of her mother and by her father's perceptions of her.  I think in the beginning, Durwin Higgs wanted his daughter to love him, but he was too prejudiced against the people and things she cared about.  To me, that's so sad, but what else could be expected from a man that married a woman for the most awful of reasons.  

With all the deceptions that surrounded her, what was Livvy's?  The way Grandmother Creed died?  She lived in her house, with all the people who knew her and her Grandmother thinking bad things.  The older residents passed the story down to the young ones.  I wonder why she stayed in Halifax.  Why not move to a town where no one knew who you were?  I understand not going back to Newfoundland.  Did she stay because of Henri's job?  There are other coastal towns and cities, couldn't they find a new one?  (Though I love that Livvy rocked babies, volunteering in the nursery.)  Though there we secrets, I think in the end, LIvvy had a good life.  In the end, this was an excellent book.

*It at least ties with Legend, though I loved both books for completely different reason.


  1. I feel like a bad Newfoundlander for not having read anything by Morrissey. I thought that I'd start with Kit's Law, but "best book I've read so far this year" makes a pretty convincing case for this one instead.

    1. Yes, bad Newfoundlander! Haha.

      It really was so good... Morrissey made the life story of an old lady so compelling. I want to read Kit's Law now too.

  2. Anonymous8/6/13 20:55

    i love you loni!! cheers,donna morrissey