Friday, 14 November 2014

Downhill Chance


   Donna Morrissey grew up in Newfoundland.  She now lives in Halifax but I have heard her speak and she has kept her Newfoundland expressions and dialect.  There is a lovely lilt to her voice and she is blunt and real and fun.

   Her first book, "Kit's Law" was written in 1999 and won several awards.
   I loved that book!  It was about three generations of women in Newfoundland. When Nan, the grandmother died, Kit was left with her retarded mother.  Kit was fourteen and it was interesting to read about the different reactions in the community to a retarded mother raising a teenager.
   The minister wanted Kit moved to an orphanage, but the doctor helped them stay in their home together.  Sid, the minister's son, was very kind and caring to Kit and her mother.  He helped out in useful ways, like chopping wood for them.  In fact, Sid witnessed a murder and took the blame.  Shine, a moonshine runner, had attempted to rape Kit and her mother Josie killed Shine with an axe.  Sid took the blame and was sent to jail.  When he had served his sentence, he married Kit.  Happy ever after?  Not quite.  Sid discovered that he was Kit's brother.  Whoops! That means that the minister.....
   Well, it was a fascinating story and I loved it when I read it in 2004. 
   Ten years later, I got around to reading her second book, "Downhill Chance".  What a disappointment!  The dialect is so strong that it ruins the story.  The sentences are awkward and confusing.  I suppose that some isolated communities did use that awkward grammar, but my friend who also grew up in Newfoundland has always used the English language perfectly.  Perhaps an expression or two thrown into the book would have been fun but constant use of the dialect was bothersome.
   The novel was long and did not keep my interest.
   This book was written in 2002 and Donna has published three more books since then.  Will I continue to read this author?  Probably not, but I will always wonder what I'm missing.

1 comment:

  1. Betty, I am so sorry about your loss (note you left at my blog). I can imagine, but only partially. I have two adult children, and a mom thinks about these possibilities. (My son currently lives halfway around the world from me, and it is hard on me. when I don't hear from him, I worry.) I hope you find some books that are very helpful.