Read The Deception of Livvy Higgs by Donna Morrissey Online


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 duFor 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 and worsening living conditions, Livvy is forced to pick apart the lies and secrets 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.Tending to Livvy during her illness is her young next-door neighbour, Gen, a single mother and social-work student. Overnight, a violent scene embroils the two in each other's lives in a manner that will entwine them forever. In The Deception of Livvy Higgs, the inimitable Morrissey has written a powerful tale, the Stone Angel of the East Coast....

Title : The Deception of Livvy Higgs
Author :
Rating :
ISBN : 9780670066056
Format Type : Hardcover
Number of Pages : 288 Pages
Status : Available For Download
Last checked : 21 Minutes ago!

The Deception of Livvy Higgs Reviews

  • Ann
    2019-04-14 06:38

    This compelling and tragic story is told by 80-year-old Livvy Higgs. Current health issues evoke long-dormant memories for the woman living in Halifax. She remembers her childhood in Sables d'Or on the French Shore of Newfoundland and her life in Halifax during the war.None of the adults in Livvy's life come out well. Her mother tells the child, "Your father's a paltry white bastard...and I'm a stupid cow." Livvy's father tells her little. Her Grandmother Creed is another complicated adult not to be trusted.As the lies and deceptions become clear to Livvy, she searches for a measure of peace. The memories of her man and his grandmother bring some serenity to the woman and does the presence of her young neighbour.Unforgettable.

  • Luanne Ollivier
    2019-04-19 03:48

    I knew The Deception of Livvy Higgs was going to break my heart from the opening chapter. Canadian author Donna Morrissey has done it to me before - her prize winning first novel Kit's Law, is a favourite of mine.Livvy Higgs is an eighty year old woman living alone in Halifax. Livvy is growing tired, she seems to be losing track of time and can't keep up with her day to day chores. As a winter storm batters the city, Livvy lies down just to rest a bit. But Livvy is more than just tired - in fact she is having a series of mini heart attacks. And as she drifts in and out of consciousness, she dreams...."If there's one good thing age has taken from me, it's the burden of memories. In the past eighty years they've burned themselves out, leaving little more than a spattering of images that dim and glow like embers in the receding path of the fire they once were."But, the memories are returning as she weakens. She dreams of the past and her life and what led her to the house she lives in. We are transported back to 1930's Newfoundland where young Livvy lives with her mother Cecile and shopkeeper father Durwin in the French outport of Sables d'Or. There are unspoken undercurrents between her parents and hints of a deal between her father and her maternal Grandmother Creed - despite the fact that they despise each other. Solace for Livvy and her mother is found in the raucous household of Missus Louis. The house is overrun with children, noise, food, chores, animals....and love.Livvy's present day neighbour Gen, a single mom to young Ronny, checks on Livvy as she tries to venture out, but doesn't realize that she is ill. Gen has her own set of problems.The story is told from past to present with Livvy uncovering and remembering more and more of her life. Livvy has been subjected to secrets, lies and manipulation since she was a small child."I sit digging at my palms, digging out nuggets of stories Mother seamed into my bones, I chink them into being, like a miner, and they fall onto my lap like ill-fitting pieces that fossilized before truth set them right. I search amongst them for the girl cloaking herself against a too horrible truth and who curls now inside the silence of an old woman's heart, her feelings too deep to be told."Morrissey's prose just grab me and squeeze. They are raw and powerful, painting vivid pictures and evoke such strong emotions. Livvy's bewilderment, heartache, anger and reclamation of her life made my heart ache. Livvy was the character who touched me the most - I think she reminded me a bit of my own gran, but all of the players were just as well drawn. I wanted to stay and visit with the boisterous Louis family, shout at her father, console her mother and dance with Henri.Morrissey weaves much historical detail into her tale. The history of the shipping trade in Newfoundland and the importance of the Halifax Harbour during the war provided a rich backdrop to Livvy's story. Having visited Halifax last summer, I was able to vividly picture what Morrissey was describing. It really brought the book to life for me.The Deception of Livvy Higgs stayed with me long after I turned the last page. This is one I'll definitely be recommending.

  • Penguin Random House Canada
    2019-03-30 08:07

    This book left me stunned. Donna Morrissey's character development in this book is so fascinating, haunting, and heart-wrenching all at once that you can't tear your eyes from the page. I found myself wondering how people can be so, as the title suggests, deceptive! People lie to each other, and they lie to themselves so much that they start to believe their OWN lies. The Deception of Livvy Higgs is an important novel to read because it forces you to look at your own life, at some of the lies you have perhaps told in your life, and how even the smallest of white lies can have, sometimes, the biggest effect. Five enthusiastic stars for this amazing character driven novel. - Amy Smith, Marketing Associate

  • Doreen
    2019-04-18 07:44

    I was so excited to discover a new novel by Donna Morrissey since I’ve read and enjoyed all of her previous books. Again, she did not disappoint.Livvy is an octogenarian living in Halifax. As her health fails, her dreams take her back to her childhood and adolescence in an isolated fishing village on the French Shore of Newfoundland where her father owned the general store. We meet Livvy’s ever-suffering mother Cecile whose relationship with her husband can be surmised by her constantly calling him a “’paltry white bastard’” (11); her proud father Durwin whose life seems fueled by rage; her manipulative maternal grandmother, Julia Creed, whose pre-occupation is the importance of outward appearances; and the comforting neighbour, Missus Louis, who provides consolation first to Cecile and later to Livvy.From the beginning it is clear that there are skeletons in the family closet involving Livvy’s father and grandmother. Durwin accuses Grandmother Creed of cheating him and he tells her, “’you’ll not cheat me again’” (59). Cecile describes her mother as a liar: “’She lies, she always lies. She’s clever like the fox, always setting her little traps, twisting things, making lies out of truth – or truth out of lies . . . ‘” (38). Cecile’s opinion of her husband is no better; she tells her daughter, “’Your father’s like your Grandmother Creed. They think themselves better than everybody else, got chafed necks from their too-high collars’” (12). She accuses him of being a hypocrite and asks him, “’Who else have you tricked with your lies’” (16)? Cecile also thinks of both her husband and mother as cold-hearted: “’she takes everything and gives nothing. Durwin takes nothing and gives nothing’” (42). Furthermore, she thinks they conspired in some criminal activity: “’They’ll burn in hell, I pray they’ll burn in hell. . . . They done something, Durwin and my mother, they done something’” (129). As she shifts between present and past, Livvy tries to determine the truth and reconcile with her past.The book jacket describes the book as “the Stone Angel of the East Coast” and Livvy is in a position similar to Hagar Shipley’s in Margaret Laurence’s novel – examining her early life. Livvy, like Hagar, is a memorable character, a strong-willed, cantankerous old woman “encroached by age and neglect” (35). Like Hagar, Livvy is also a dynamic character; she realizes that a person “has to believe in [his/]her story in order to live with it, to defend it, if only to [him/]herself. . . . it comes to me that Father, too, believed his story, else he wouldn’t have fought so hard to protect it. And Grandmother Creed. . . . What shame, what shame to suffer such loneliness when love was but a truth away” (270). The novel addresses several forces (i.e. greed, pride, hate, love, anger) which can serve as overriding motivations since “fixing one’s mind too strongly on something can hatch fear and dread” (94). Livvy mentions that she has learned “how to salvage the most from the sweetest” (10), but she also learns how to salvage the most from the sourest that life has dealt her so she can still feel “sweet, sweet grace” (271). A book that is entertaining and also gives a glimpse into the human condition is a great read – and this is definitely one of them.Please check out my reader's blog ( and follow me on Twitter (@DCYakabuski).

  • Steve Thompson
    2019-03-22 06:53

    I loved Donna Morrissey's writing. Mind you, I always love her writing. We Canadians tell stories in a very different manner.If you ever have a chance to attend a Donna Morrissey reading grab the opportunity. I saw her at Harbourfront in Toronto during the International Festival of Authors. She breathed life into her characters. What an actor! It was a reading as a reading should be.

  • Allison
    2019-03-29 23:37

    Reminds me a bit of The Stone Angel, with its cantankerous-yet-indomitable old woman remembering her youth. Morrissey has a real knack with characterization and rendering a sense of place and I always feel like I've visited Eastern Canada after reading one of her books. She conveys the sense of the child trapped by circumstances beyond her control very well.

  • Bjorn Larsen
    2019-04-10 07:57

    Just Read: The Deception of Livvy Higgs (2013) - Donna MorriseyWhy write a negative review? To deprecate another’s work in order to promote one’s own? To shame or criticize another author? I hope these are not the aims. I agree with one of my heroes, a man of wit and depth of humane feeling, Roger Ebert, who frequently wrote “bad reviews:” the purpose of a bad review isn’t to dwell on what is “bad,” but actually draw attention to what is good - it identifies pitfalls whilst illuminating ideals. And though I personally believe that what we’re discussing here are cultural products, textual artifacts separate from their producers, with merits and flaws, I myself find criticism exceedingly difficult to take. My apologies in advance.I didn’t like “The Deception of Livvy Higgs.” When the film Babel was released in 2006 it was provocatively described by some as “suffering porn.” I take issue with works that exist to both exploit and decry suffering. On one hand they exist to generate sympathy for their much abused characters. On the other they gather strength of interest and “compel” their readers by salacious accounts of misdeeds, guiltily consumed by the reading public, a sort of literary “if it bleeds it leads” ethos, only in this case dragging us through the usual litany of “family secrets,” some variety of abuse, perhaps an addiction… I don’t mean to be flippant: these are very real elements of too many real people’s lives. But do novels like this do much at all to ease our collective suffering, or to suggest alternate paths forward? This type of novel, I believe, has become something of a genre unto itself: a genre treasured by middle-class, comfortable “literary enthusiasts” who can imbibe a little suffering at arms length, and sigh over it at their leisure. I’ve never enjoyed this sort of read; “The Shipping News,” “Snow Falling on Cedars,” “White Oleander:” you know the type. And I just can’t help myself: many of these seem more likely than not to have a large “O” emblazoned on their cover.Is there something wrong with the depiction of suffering in literature? Of course not: suffering lies at the heart of great literature. But there is a difference between high Tragedy (with a capital “T”), and the leaden “seamy coming-of-age story” set in Saskatoon, Kitsilano, Winnipeg (insert folksy Canadian locale here) that has become a Canadian staple. There exists a progression, I believe, in great literature that is lacking here. First, we acknowledge that life includes suffering. Second, we acknowledge that there are such things as Truth and Beauty. Third, we examine paths that lead from the suffering toward the aforementioned Beauty and Truth. Here, instead, we are dragged through the sordid, both the everyday and the extraordinary meanness, often drawn out for dramatic value, and provided at the work’s conclusion with a trite “I suppose it all worked out right in the end” statement of some sort. Why is Turgenev’s “Spring Torrents” a great work and this not, though they treat similar subject matter, namely entrapment and deception? Why is Duddy Kravitz at least a good work, and this not?“Livvy Higgs” tells the story, through a series of flashbacks, of the life of the titular “heroine.” The elderly Higgs, because this is Canada and we need to demonstrate that we are familiar with Canadian literature, has been compared, poorly, and mostly by book jacket blurb providers, with “The Stone Angel’s” Hagar Shipley. The elderly Livvy, however, exists only as a more or less unnecessary frame for the predictably tortuous tale of bad fathers, woebegone mothers, cunning extended relations and shocking misdeeds. I have no complaints with Morrisey’s admittedly lucid and occasionally lyric (but oddly not lovely) prose. Her characters, however, seem to exist only to add new patina of shabbiness to an already shabby story. For a “strong woman” character, Livvy Higgs fails - she is constantly misled and in need of some variety of rescue, and seems to arrive at some sort of amorphous redemptive aphorism only at the novel’s end which may or may not be the end of her life. The novel’s structure is a little confusing: we are introduced to a cranky shadow of a woman, living in the ruins of a life lived apparently without much in the way of any joy or warmth, other than Livvy’s multiple cats (“crazy cat lady - ho, ho!”), yet by novel’s end we are expected to believe that her moderately horrific life has somehow produced a sainted wisdom and strength that has made her the pillar of warmth that she clearly wasn’t on page one. The novel concludes in a great gout of exposition that just doesn’t end - there is not one dark secret here, but a multitude that seems to take in even British treatment of Irish convicts - somehow relevant 3 generations before Livvy’s tale of woe. Instead of a shocking exposé we are forced through a tedious history lesson that does little to clarify Livvy’s situation, as oblivious to it as she’s been. If you are planning to read the novel, stop here; if not, I include Livvy’s great realization (or generalization, as the case may be), occurring on no less than the second to last page of the novel (there has been a lot of deception to squeeze in, apparently): “A thought comes to me, it comes strong and hard, that evil is swallowed by repentance, that only the sin of it carries on, and sin is little more than a smoky thought, clearing itself with the breath of prayer.”What?! Newfoundland gothic, indeed.Again, the intention of my review isn’t to be mean spirited, but to decry a direction in literature that I believe best-seller tables and Canadian housekeeping magazine summer reading lists need to abandon. They won’t. This novel reads like a long dark Thanksgiving conversation that everyone wishes they hadn’t had. I won’t even set in on the mysandry. A critic recently quipped “Why does this film hate women?” This novel serves as it’s own long argument for why it hates men.When I finished the text, I asked myself an exasperated “why?” and began furiously scribbling notes. What was the point? Those who don’t think they understand suffering will sit on their muskoka chairs, sip sommelier-recommended wine and read this shabby tale while their husbands and sons linger on Bay Street, and then discuss the book fervently: “wasn’t it horrible, those days?” And we’ll legitimize our experience by talking about the “lovely prose,” and the “bearing witness,” and be left with one more sad story, as though we don’t have any of our own, or don’t live in a world of turmoil enough. Those days are these days, and have ever been the days of men and women who live in a world of inequity, loss and injustice. But alternatives exist! I’ve little interest in disingenuously chewing the bones. The music of the spheres sounds high and bright somewhere far above the plane that this text can’t even seem to imagine. Final Grade: DNext up: “How to Live, or a life of Montaigne in one question and twenty attempts at an answer” (2010) - Sarah Bakewell

  • Joanne
    2019-03-18 23:41

    It took a while for me to get into this book. I'd pick it up, put it back down, while trying to decide whether to keep on reading it. I'm very glad I did. It worked it's way into my heart page by page, as the elderly Liv drifts back and forth in time, remembering her childhood and youth. The child of a loveless marriage, she loses her mother to an early death and is left behind with a cold, unpleasant father and a devious, manipulative grandmother who between them carry some pretty ugly secrets. Liv prevails, and in late life forms an emotional attachment to her next door neighbour Gen, a struggling single mother with a big heart. During a bad snowstorm, Liv drifts in and out of lucidity while experiencing a series of small medical incidents. During this time, she reviews her life. The ending is quite sweet.This was another enjoyable novel from Donna Morrissey. She's very skilled at portraying human complexities, and this book is a fine example of that.

  • Ellen
    2019-04-15 05:02

    I found many things to like about this book. I really enjoyed the clever way that Morrissey blended the past with the present. I liked the multi-generational story and the descriptions of the people and place. I liked the writing style - quite readable. The reason for only 3 stars is basically the final resolution. I was expecting so much more from the "deception". It really fell flat for me, or I didn't quite get it, but either way, it was disappointing. I also found the character of the next door neighbour - Gen - at best annoying and at worst - ridiculous. (honestly, SHE was studying to be a social worker?) and Henri's character by the end, a little hard to take.While the book was "fine", not sure I'd race out and get another by this author.

  • Colleen Hymers
    2019-03-28 05:59

    Donna Morrissey has quickly established herself as a must read author for me. I can't believe it took me so long to discover her! But now that I have, I intend to read everything! I haven't felt this kind of love for an author since Jane Austen, and that's saying something. A four star rating but only because I wanted more. MORE! Morrissey has a gift when it comes to character development, and so when it came to the present day relationship between Livvy and Gen, I wanted more time with them. Gen comes with her own history (and demons) and I kept thinking Morrissey would flesh that out a bit more. But wow, everything else about this story is perfect. I loved the slipping through time. Seamless. God, this woman can tell a tale!

  • John Hanson
    2019-04-19 02:44

    The book is an enigma. I was mostly pulled forward; though it was slow and often dreary. A passage on page 260 sums up much of the story -- "Gawd-damn it, Liv, I don't know nothing about you. I don't know if you're shy or just plain not interested." Well there you have it, my feeling about much of the book. Morrissey writes to the negative spaces. She paints pictures with words that fill in the events around the heart of the story, but she never comes out and says "Ducky, this is what she's about." The impacts are predictable: my feelings of empathy were slow to build, and in the end, I feel something is missing. Yet while intellectually I feel I should be able to walk away and say "meh," Livvy Higgs haunts me. She will haunt me as I try to sleep tonight.Morrissey's writing is fine enough. It doesn't weigh us down in description and trifle prose, yet it is not quite organically dramatic enough. The conflict is remote, almost subconscious. It is slow and muddked. Too often I wondered why certain passages needed to be written, and they seemed to run on forever. Yet her scene endings sparkle and make it all tie together. "Ahhh, okay, that's why we went there and did that." Want to explore scene endings? Donna is a master.Theme is written overtly; just pay attention to italics: "We're all drunk on something, luv, some a bit more than others." Why slap us in the face with thematic statements and aphorisms? Because the story is weak and doesn't explicitly show it in action? I kept asking this question and never satisfied myself. Yes, I get the themes, I think.Some of the history gnaws at me. WWII Halifax and we have running water and automatic washing machines. Creed lives in a bungalow next to Point Pleasant Park, the land of Victorian Homes. To me bungalows are post-war creations and foreign even today in old Halifax. Maybe I need to visit there more.Gen's situation seemed excessive to me. Crawls to a basement door handcuffed in a snowstorm? Sensationalism? I mock it.The ending did not hit home. It was cryptic. I invest 260 pages of effort reading a story and it drifts away with a smile. It's a contemporary short story ending that nobody really ever understands, but because it is so cryptic, so MFA, it must be good. Seriously, I'd like to close a book knowing what the transformation was.To summarize, I am glad I read this story. I somehow feel enriched by it, sad and gloomy but enriched nonetheless.

  • PEI Public Library Service
    2019-03-30 03:49

    The Deception of Livvy Higgs by Donna Morrissey follows the life of an ailing 80-year old woman from her childhood in an outport on the French Shore in Newfoundland to her adulthood in the city of Halifax. During a two-day period at the end of her life Livvy Higgs suffers small heart attacks. She moves back and forth in her memories shifting from her sad childhood to her present day problems all the while trying to solve the mystery of a long ago alliance between her father and maternal grandmother as well as attempting to find out what is currently happening with her neighbor, Gen.The author creates a feeling of real fragility in the character of the young and old Livvy with her expressive, visual prose. With disquieting and moving scenes Morrissey portrays Livvy allowing the character to become alive in the reader's mind. By contrast, even at the end of the book, I was still unable to truly visualize Livvy's father. But that is perhaps exactly the way the author hoped the reader would feel underlining Livvy's inability in establishing close relationships as a consequence of the coldness of her father.The background of the story highlights the loneliness of a Newfoundland outport in the 1930's and unveils the extreme busyness of the port of Halifax during the Second World War. The lies that began in Livvy's childhood follow her right to Halifax. It is only at the end of the book when the circle of life is almost complete that she realizes that life is not about cocooning yourself because of one's scarred childhood but about opening up to those who care. The book made me wonder how often all of us fall into a trap of thinking that something is an immutable truth, even worse, how often our minds mold secrets, lies and other unpleasant experiences into something that prevents us from enjoying life.Borrow a copy:

  • Abcdarian
    2019-03-25 02:50

    Maybe this one was just too deep for me, but though it had Morrissey's usual excellent writing and I thought at first I would love it, I found the dénouement very unsatisfying and the promising characters mired in seemingly endless layers of deceptions.

  • Anna Macdonald
    2019-03-31 02:49

    Enjoyed this. Thank you, Heather!

  • Krista
    2019-04-03 06:55

    I am convinced that if Donna Morrissey wrote the blurbs on the back of cereal boxes, that I would think it was amazing. I loved this book, just like I loved every other book of hers. Lovely story.

  • Daniel Kukwa
    2019-04-08 06:40

    The parts of this novel set in Newfoundland and wartime Halifax are exquisitely written, and make for some incredibly evocative & gripping storytelling. However, I wasn't enamored with the present-day story-line, and felt irritated every time the plot cycled back to the modern setting. This is also a terribly dark and cynical story, and there isn't much in the way of genuine happiness to be found in the lives the characters, making for a very grim and relentless atmosphere. There's more than enough here to grab hold of one's imagination, but it definitely falls under my personal classification of "something I admire more than love".

  • M.A.
    2019-04-07 23:49

    Every time I read one of Morrissey's books, I feel emotionally bereft and find myself asking, "what just happened"? I had trouble with some of the flashbacks as time merged and I wasn't sure where I was sometimes, perhaps like 80 year old Livvy as she struggled with her memories. The history of NFLD and Halifax before, during and after WWII was interesting. I enjoyed the two voices of Livvy: young and old. The cover of the edition of the book I have shows a faceless young woman dressed up with a case in her hand. Is it Grandmother Creed during her travelling days?

  • Denise
    2019-04-07 06:46

    While I always enjoy Donna Morrisey's writing, I found this story a bit frustrating. The character of Livvy just somehow did not connect with me. I did not find myself sympathizing , liking , or disliking her. She simply .... was. And the character of Gen was just too bizarre to be taken seriously. On the whole, I did enjoy the read. But I would not highly recommend it to friends. It was okay.

  • C
    2019-04-01 04:50

    Donna Morrissey is an amazing story teller and this book is no exception. I was drawn in within the first few pages and enjoyed every last word. Set in western Newfoundland and in Halifax during WWII, there are details of Halifax's crucial involvement in the war that are not normally included in general fiction, but add so much to the vivid setting of this story.Loved it!

  • Lester
    2019-04-07 02:45

    Thank you AGAIN Donna Morrissey. Your stories are taking me on a trip within my road trip!!New 'endearment' from this story...Macushlah...The title is a transliteration of the Irish mo chuisle meaning "my pulse" as used in the phrase a chuisle mo chroí which means "pulse of my heart", and thus mo chuisle has come to mean "darling" or "sweetheart".I like this!!

  • Ammie Parsons
    2019-03-27 01:37

    I liked this book more so at the end. It took me a long time to get into it but once I did I couldn't put it down. I did laugh out loud a few times at the Newfoundland Dialect, and it did sometimes make me feel as though I was there! Overall worth the read, just not my favorite Donna Morrissey novel.

  • Mar
    2019-04-03 07:50

    Elderly woman relives pivotal childhood experiences.

  • Louise
    2019-04-06 02:56

    I just love Donna Morrissey and everything she has written. This one is no exception.

  • Paula Dembeck
    2019-04-11 03:59

    This story opens as eighty year old Livvy Higgs descends the steps from her Halifax home to feed the pigeons. It is very cold and a storm is approaching. As she has become more frail, Livvy has found herself requiring more help from her neighbor Gen, a single mother with a son Ronny. Livvy hates being dependent on others, but has been forced to begrudgingly accept the help she is offered. Livvy’s story evolves over this stormy blustery weekend. As she sits in her chair by the window, she feels strong pains in her chest and hears the distant voice of a young girl calling for her mother. Livvy falls into dreaming and is pulled back into her childhood and the disorienting memories of secrets she has kept locked away for years. It seems that the ghosts from her past have come to visit.Durwin, Livvy’s father was the only shopkeeper in Sables D’or, a small outport community on the French coast of Newfoundland. Livvy’s mother Cecile was born and raised in Halifax and only spoke English, so she could not work in the store and was isolated from most of the community. She did have a friendship with Mister and Missus Louis, who had a large sprawling house full of children and who were warm and welcoming. But Cecile had to keep these visits secret, as her husband had a long held grievance with the family. He insisted that Mister Louis had murdered his father by purposefully luring his ship unto the rocks one late foggy night. The boat was smashed and five men aboard including his father Captain Higgs, were drowned. Durwin was the only one who survived the experience. As Livvy and Cecile wander the beaches, Livvy listens to her mother’s endless complaints. She rails against her husband and her own mother, Grandmother Creed. She accuses Livvy’s father of being thoroughly selfish, caring only for himself. And she has harsh words for her mother, who she accuses of being “slippery” and “sly as a fox”. She says the two of them were “up to something” for which they “will pay in hell”. But Livvy has no idea what that something was. When Livvy’s mother dies suddenly, she is left alone with her angry father and the memories of her mother’s bitterness. She struggles in school, feels lonely and finds comfort only in walking the shores. For a short time, she seeks refuge with Mister and Missus Louis, but when her father finds out, he forces Livvy to leave and live with her Grandmother Creed in Halifax. There Livvy tries to unravel the stories and sort out the lies from the truths in everything she has either overheard or been told since she was a little girl. Morrissey lets Livvy tell her story in her own words or through the voice of someone looking at the scene. This works well as the story moves back and forth from Halifax in 2009 to the 1930s and 40s in Newfoundland, as nuggets of truth are found over time. In modern day Halifax, Livvy comes out of her long buried memories several times, usually disoriented and hungry. During one of these periods, she encounters her neighbor Gen who has arrived at her door in the middle of the night, cold and asking for help. Strangely, her feet are bound in chains and there are terrible burns on her wrists. The two women wait out the winter storm huddled in Livvy’s house, and as Livvy continues to move in and out of consciousness, fatigue and her disturbing dreams, the two women share their secrets. Gen, the reader and Livvy all have a sense that death is not far off for Livvy, and like others in the same situation, she has been reviewing her life with its dark truths, betrayals and doubts, trying to make sense of her life. Morrisey has created a very sympathetic character in Livvy, a young girl who created a happy life for herself despite all the bitterness that surrounded her childhood. Like her other stories based in Newfoundland, Morrissey has a way with this particular landscape. She uses strong spare prose to effortlessly describe the ruggedness of the coastline and the beauty of the windswept beaches and dunes. She also includes delightful and distinct Newfoundland expressions in the dialogue she uses for the war of words between the French and the English, including the necessary curses that give it its island colour. This is an engaging read and a moving story which serves to remind us that there is often a thin line between secrets and lies. We all harbor grudges and remembrances, and memories do not always hold accurate facts. We often embroider what we keep in our memories, creating something as we want it to be, rather than what in fact it actually was in true history.

  • guiltlessreader
    2019-03-22 05:45

    Originally posted on my blog Guiltless Reading My two cents: I entered the giveaway for this at GoodReads because I felt the need to better acquaint myself with Canadian authors. This is my first time reading Donna Morrissey. She doesn't disappoint with this lovely combination of historical fiction and family saga.Livvy Higgs is - a harmless, rather forgetful octogenarian - who living alone, seems better with family or in a home. Looking out for her is her neighbour, Gen, a single mother studying to be a social worker.When Livvy's health takes a turn with for the worse, she hallucinates and revisits her painful past, thus starting a shifting in the book from past and present and back again.Growing up in a rather lonely childhood, Livvy remembers her martyred mother, her austere father, and a scheming grandmother, and her seeking solace in her neighbour Missus Louis and her family. Most important of all, she distinctly remembers a seeming conspiracy between her father and her Grandmother Creed -- a secret that weighs on Livvy heavily as she sees her mother suffering as a consequence. The Higgs family is a shipping family in Newfoundland in the mid-thirties. As Livvy's past unfolds, we become privvy to their lives embroiled in politics and the sordid secrets of the Maritime shipping industry. This is among the best-told stories I have read in a while, coherent overall yet surprising in how I see the emotional unravelling of Livvy as she learns of the lifelong deception and a betrayal that is difficult to come to terms with. Her "truth" metamorphoses into yet another "truth," highlighting that how we make sense of people at a certain time in our lives ... can be totally be disproven as we gain a better understanding of ourselves, the circumstances, and of other people's secret selves. I have no doubt that this story will resonate with many, as well as appeal to Canadian historical fiction fans. Verdict: A page-turning family saga that reveals the deception that many of us inevitably live with.

  • Terri Durling
    2019-03-23 01:05

    I was drawn into this book at the start and it held me until close to the end. Morrison has a writing style I like very much. Sentences like "swallowed by the ambulance, it's white doors closing like teeth behind her" and "iced window pane ... They glimmer like tears" are what good writing is about as you get an instant visual. The story of Livvy Higgs goes back and forth from her early beginnings on the French shores of Newfoundland to old age in a house on Halifax. For the most part, the switching of times is relatively smooth except for the odd occasion. In fact, the transition usually coincides with a situation the elderly Livvy is in. The fact that the settings are in Atlantic Canada is noteworthy and her descriptions of life in theses areas and especially the winter season are excellent. For me, there was a flashback to my own childhood when Livvy witnesses her father drowning her pet cat, Tabs, although not quite as traumatic. Etna is an interesting character with her difficult background and cleanliness neurosis. Gen however seems a bit out there - handcuffed in the back yard - come on! Towards the end as the mystery starts to unfold, I am disappointed as it is somewhat of a letdown and not told very well as it fades away and leaves me not understanding what the story was really about. I actually felt sorry for grandmother Creed who always tried hard to be good to Livvy who never ever warmed up to her or appreciate what she did for her. I did not really get the relationship between her and the son-in-law (Livvy's father). I love fashion so got a bit of a chuckle out if Grandmother Creed's desire to always be dressed for the occasion.

  • Julia
    2019-04-18 01:59

    I have read all of Morrissey's previous books and was surprised to accidentally come across this 2012 publication. I didn't know it existed. Morrissey writes beautifully and her stories are written with such feeling. This was another heart breaking account of life in Newfoundland.The story is narrated by Livvy Higgs, an 80 year old woman in the year 2009. Livvy has been experiencing small heart attacks for a couple of days and during this time, we travel back with her to the French Shore of Newfoundland during the mid 30's and when the maritime shipping industry was big. We are also introduced to life during wartorn Halifax during the battle of the Atlantic in WWII, when Livvy was a child and growing up with a stern, hateful and greedy father who treated his wife poorly. Livvy lost her mother at a young age and grieved constantly for the love she missed so intensely. Her father threw her out of the house when he realized she was becoming interested in a young man who was of french decent. Livvy was forced to live with her grandmother who had mysteriously aligned herself with Livvy's father, despite their mutual hatred.It is with her grandmother, that she begins to discover bits and pieces of her own history and what scandals her father was involved in during the shipping days and why he despises the french so intensely. Just a really interesting story that held my attention and emotions all the way through.

  • Sharlene
    2019-03-25 06:59

    I received this book as the result of a Goodreads giveaway.This book is a beautifully woven tale set in the maritimes. A place close to my heart, as I was born in them. I was amazed at how often I had to stop reading because I found myself daydreaming about them. Truth be told it is because Morrissey is able to capture the aura of the area in her written words. Bravo!I loved the main character, Livvy...what a queer duck one can become after discovering so many deceptions that in the end, would directly affect her. One really found themself rooting for her to have her moment.Supporting characters will have you double guessing who they really are and what they may be up to.The plot is solid and believable. I'm pretty sure that many readers will connect to Livvy in some way...haven't we all be fooled? Doesn't our own family have skeletons in their closet? Don't we find things come around full circle?I enjoyed the way that the story bounces from the past to the present in a very easy to follow way. Not an easy feat, as I have read several that were hard to read, and this one shows how it can be successfully done.I won't ruin the story, but I will predict that we will have a winner here when September comes and this book hits the bookstores. Wonderfully written!

  • Charlotte
    2019-04-01 06:55

    I was pleasantly surprised by my reaction to this book. In general, I do not like novels written in the first person, because I want to experience the story vicariously with the main character, not live the story. A fine distinction, perhaps, but there you have it. The Deception of Livvy Higgs is written in Livvy's voice, though, but perhaps because she is herself being shown the story by her younger self (much of the book is a flashback to Livvy's past), the first person voice didn't turn me aside from liking this one.This is a complicated, emotional novel. It touches on the complex, often dysfunctional relationships children can have with their parents, and how the lies we tell ourselves can impact others. Livvy has a difficult relationship with her father, and later her grandmother, because of how close she is to her mother, and yet her older self later comes to realize that her relationship with her mother was not as ideal as it seemed to her then younger self.A very well-written novel, my second attempt at reading best-selling fiction, and a much more successful outcome this time.

  • Brian
    2019-04-13 03:48

    The somewhat doddering Livvy Higgs of Donna Morrissey's recent The Deception of Livvy Higgs has her life "flash" slowly before her eyes as she faces the possibility of her own demise. The "flash" constitutes nearly the entire book, so much so that the simple unravelling of the character's life that so appealed to me at the start, by the end, made me wonder if this weren't more of a character study than a novel. As anything more, it's pretty thin. In the end, I'm left with a moral that practicing to deceive weaves tangled webs (and I'm not so sure the deceptions unravelled by Livvy mattered half as much to her ultimate happiness as they did to the misery of the perpetrators) and an emaciated excuse for a plotline that goes something like: uneasy neighbours maintain their uneasy friendship--probably. While the simplicity of the writing charmed me completely, I do wonder if the backstory will deceive readers in search of a novel.