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Sylvanus Now By Donna Morrissey

sylvanus-now-by-donna-morrissey-200Adelaide is the oldest of a seemingly endless line of children. Her harried mother expects Adelaide to help care for the children–Adelaide, who excelled at school and wanted to continue. Newfoundland village

But in an outport village, in Newfoundland in the 1950s, the choice was not hers to make. Adelaide was out to work salting fish with the other women. These were the days of plenty–plenty of fish and plenty of back-breaking work. It didn’t seem to be a choice, either, when she agreed to marry Sylvanus Now.

She married him to get away from her mother and the care of yet another baby–and moved to an even smaller outport, close by boat but not often travelled. Their marriage is one of growing love, and of loss.

Personal loss for Adelaide and loss of his livelihood, and his identity, for Sylvanus, as the fish are disappearing.

The boats are coming from across the sea, some with freezers on board–and they are raping the sea.

The men who have made their living as independent fishermen, feeding their families and having some fish to sell for goods, are finding there is less fish each year.

The government’s solution is to move the people from the outports–some are ready to leave and others know it is the only home they will ever have and choose to stay.

It is a wonderful novel, perfectly capturing the Newfoundland dialect and rough geography.


It is their determination to survive, when confronted with the harshness and grief of their existence, which will make the reader desperately care for the characters of Sylvanus and Adelaide and their families, as they struggle to make sense of how their remote world is so rapidly changing.

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