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On Canada's Atlantic coast at the edge of the great Newfoundland fishing banks of the 1950s Sylvanus Now is a handsome and willful fisherman His youthful desires are simple he wants a suit to lure a girl—the fine boned beauty Adelaide—and he knows exactly how much fish he has to catch to pay for it Adelaide however has other dreams She longs to escape the sea the fish and the stultifying community but her need for refuge from her own troubled family leads her to Sylvanus and life in the neighboring portThrough this story of love loss and facing the inevitabilities of life in a floundering community the sea is a potent presence modernization ravaging its shores and bringing it to the cusp of cataclysmic change Ultimately Sylvanus Now is a story of redemption against all odds in a world vanished but brought vividly back to life in Morrissey's caring hands uill and uire


10 thoughts on “Sylvanus Now

  1. says:

    The novel is set in the remote and often ferocious world of the outports of Newfoundland in a place where the craggy exposed hills are merely used to look for lost men at sea and where burials are an all too freuent occurrence Although the story is centered around the emotional intricacies between two people Sylvanus and his wife Adelaide  the novel is concerned mostly with a transitional world in which the traditional fishing methods are exchanged for trawlers and giant factory ships and the local fishermen are forced to adapt to changing times Throughout their grief and personal tragedies Sylvanus and Adelaide attempt to stay true to themselves and their traditions but as the outside world inevitably begins to interfere with their reclusive lives they are both faced with dramatic changes to their existence Although their world is a stark and forbidding place there are comforting pauses to be had in the monotonous repetitions and a great deal of time to ponder the implicit conundrums of the intellect the immense tragedy of loss but also of hope and love The strength of the novel is that the descriptions of the area and the people are beautifully poetic and feels remarkably authentic and that the main characters are  extremely well crafted Sylvanus and Adelaide are fraught with anguish and complex internal conflicts that instantly makes them relatable and deeply human Their troubled but powerful relationship is thoroughly clouded in the mystery of unspoken words and enigmatic actions and the reader is drawn into a stark unforgiving world that is as turbulent and deep as the ocean upon which most of the story relySylvanus Now is a powerful and poignant depiction of the complexities of a troubled relationship against the loss of a now vanished world a world  that will one day exist only in our memory


  2. says:

    I have just read a novel of such unspeakable beauty that I am overwhelmed Donna Morrissey's Sylvanus Now is breathtaking right from the first vision of Sylvanus jigging fish right forearm up left forearm down left forearm up right forearm down; to the vision of Adelaide's eye sparkling blue It's a novel about the changing of the fishery in Newfoundland when large trawlers came in to rape the seas and the governments abandoned both the sea and the careful tenders of her in favour of cheap fish and way too much of it It's a story of a people forced to change their ways of life and it seems as fresh now as when it was written as we all cope with a changing economy and hang on the American election with bated breath wondering what our future in Canada holds tied as we are to the tails of the American Bald Eagle a carrion eater and the Chinese Tiger endangered by environmental changeDonna Morrissey has won many awards for her writing and they are well deserved Her power in a sentence is vast Her ability to evoke the feelings of the people she describes complicated and earthy and thoughtful and hidden as they are is astonishingI can't believe I hadn't read her beforeIt's funny the reaction I have when reading such writing I relax into the book knowing I am in the hands of a master knowing the book will take me on a ride and enclose me in its world I stay awake eyelids flipping up and down like a blind in the hands of a misbehaving preschooler unwilling to let the world go reading just that one page With lesser books I stay alert less involved easier to distract likely to put it down even if it is a good book The great books show me their hearts I can't help but respondAnd the feeling lingers After Sylvanus Now I want to go out and see the sea inhale it feel its call see the salt bleached houses run the wind through my hair


  3. says:

    65 starsSylvanus Now is one of the best Newfoundland books I've read and I've read uite a few Everything about this book made me completely fall in love with it This is the first of Donna Morrissey's books that I've read but I will certainly be checking out her other novels after reading and enjoying this one The story of Sylvanus Now is so beautiful and rich Donna's writing is flawless and she perfectly captures the spirit of outport NL; at times I felt as if she had been writing about my little community Everything was so similar to my way of life and so relatable Her characters truly do accurately represent the people of small communities around the province As the story progressed I found myself relating and to Adelaide; our personalities are so eerily similar and rarely do I find a book with a main character I can identify with so well I could also see a lot of my family members woven within the personalities of the other residents of Cooney Arm and Ragged Rock I always appreciate it when an author makes the characters and the story so easy to follow and relate toThis is a book that really tugs at the heartstrings of any Newfoundlander especially those of us who've spent our lives in a tiny outport fishing village And for someone only in their 20's like me or even their 30's it's an excellent look at the way of life for previous generations Not only is this novel a heart wrenching love story it's also a portrait of life in NL as the fish stocks began depleting Advancements in the fishery were making it harder and harder for people to get by the way they always have This is heavily reflected in the love story of Sylvanus and Adelaide as their strength as a couple and as individuals was constantly being tested; they were feeling pressure from the government their families and most of all from themselves The way their relationship would fluctuate between good and bad made for a very riveting and touching story as they fought to overcome each and every obstacleUp until they found each other and even sometimes throughout their relationship and marriage Sylvanus and Adelaide were two people who usually preferred their own lonesome company over the company of others Yet despite their desires for aloneness they developed a love and a need for each other that was too strong to be denied Donna Morrissey has done a remarkable job of crafting these characters and their stories in such a way that makes them so easy to relate to and so easy to sympathize withThis book took me on an emotional rollercoaster and was filled with numerous thought provoking tidbits I love that in a book; I love when an author's words make me feel things so strongly and deeply and that's just what Morrissey has done here I love this book so much I immediately want to read it again and again I will never get tired of it and I look forward to reading of Donna's sensational work I highly recommend this book to anyone especially Newfoundlanders who would really appreciate it as much as I do


  4. says:

    Sylvanus Now takes place in the 1950s on Canada's Atlantic coast Sylvanus Now is a Newfoundland fisherman and all he wants is a new suit so he can catch himself a wifeAdelaide is smart and beautiful with ice blue eyes She excels in school but her mother takes her out of school to work the fish flakes which Adelaide absolutely abhors Due to lack of money to care for all the children Adelaide's mother has born Adelaide is forced to help provide for and care for them Sylvanus becomes infatuated with Adelaide and decides to make her his wife She is cool and aloof towards Sylvanus but after a melt down at home she is than willing to marry Sylvanus especially since he promises her that she would not have to have anything to do with the fishing industry and she could have a home to herselfTimes have never been easy for Canada's Atlantic fishermen and with the freezer factories and other huge boats over fishing the waters and scraping the ocean's floors lifeless there is less fish for Sylvanus to catch on his own Not only is the ocean becoming lifeless but Adelaide and Sylvanus' babies keep dieing at birthThe government has a plan to relocate the Newfoundlanders since the fish industry is decimated forcing Sylvanus and Adelaide to make a decision to stay and fight for their lifestyle or to relocate The decision they make makes Sylvanus a lesser god but protects what gave their life meaningSylvanus Now is beautifully written I was able to picture the Atlantic Ocean and Sylvanus fishing on it and the big freezer factories decimating our Canadian waters Definitely a great read for those interested in what over fishing has done to our oceans and for anyone yearning to know about Atlantic Canada


  5. says:

    A Canadian masterpieceDonna Morrissey's Sylvanus Now introduces us to a wholly dedicated Newfoundland fisherman in the late 1950s and early 1960s Sylvanus's wants are few He wants to be alone in his boat on the ocean jigging for cod and he wants Adelaide for a wife Adelaide doesn't want to be a wife and she detests anything to do with fish She wants to get an education at leave her outport communityMorrissey's tale is breathtaking beautiful It sounds a simple story but she tells it in such a way that these two people matter than anything else in the world Sylvanus's love for his life at sea is lyrical and hauntingly touching because of the wholesale greed by trawlers and factory ships harvesting and wiping out the cod Then there is the government resettlement scheme Sylvanu's mother often in the background is a force of nature and nurture UnforgettableI can't wait to read What They Wanted which continues the story


  6. says:

    This is wonderful historical fiction In 1950's Newfoundland a way of life for generations of fishermen is being replaced by government Canadian re organization and relocation of the sparse and hardy populace A young couple who are each a bit different from the rest of the villagers find love loss and ultimately peace This is the third novel by Donna Morrissey Downhill Chance and Kit's Law All are set in Newfoundland and are beautifully written Her novels are full of a strong sense of time and place with finely drawn characters and emotional impact


  7. says:

    Straight out of Newfoundland you'll feel yourself living in that place and doubtlessly searching your own heart Another excellent read


  8. says:

    Loved this book Great story well written and riveting Can't wait to read What They Wanted but I have to buy it first


  9. says:

    First of my Newfoundland reads The first part moved uickly for me Didn’t love ending Looking forward to book 2 Descriptive


  10. says:

    This first book about the Now family is beautifully written The author is skilled at evoking every day Newfoundland especially the rural outport villages We meet Sylvanus and Adelaide Now in their younger years as they struggle to start a family and maintain a way of life in a fishing outport that is uickly disappearing The problem I have with the book is that I just can't find Addie a very sympathetic character She's a dreamer who wants out of the life she's always had she hates the ocean hates caring for her younger siblings longs to be a missionary in Africa yet she marries Sylvanus who is very traditional and has expectations of a normal life of fishing and children Then she spends the next decade in a fugue of depression and anger I wanted to slap her silly at timesI'm glad I've read other books about this family before going back to this one or I never would have finished it