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The Deception of Livvy Higgs

3.73  ·  Rating Details  ·  388 Ratings  ·  89 Reviews
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 du ...more
Hardcover, 288 pages
Published September 18th 2012 by Viking Canada
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Luanne Ollivier
Sep 19, 2012 Luanne Ollivier rated it it was amazing
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
Penguin Random House Canada
Oct 17, 2012 Penguin Random House Canada rated it it was amazing
Shelves: penguin-reviews
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 yo ...more
Nov 04, 2015 Doreen rated it really liked it
Shelves: personal-library
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
PEI Public Library Service
May 06, 2016 PEI Public Library Service rated it it was amazing
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 grandmot ...more
Bjorn Larsen
Jul 12, 2015 Bjorn Larsen rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Just Read: The Deception of Livvy Higgs (2013) - Donna Morrisey

Why 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.
John Hanson
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 abou ...more
Anna Macdonald
Jan 27, 2016 Anna Macdonald rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2016
Enjoyed this. Thank you, Heather!
Terri Durling
Jan 20, 2016 Terri Durling rated it liked it
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 switc ...more
Steve Thompson
Feb 10, 2013 Steve Thompson rated it it was amazing
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.
Sep 17, 2012 Allison rated it really liked it
Shelves: fiction, canadian
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.
Nov 10, 2012 Abcdarian rated it liked it
Shelves: canadian, fiction
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.
Mar 03, 2014 Denise rated it it was ok
I just thought this novel was ok. I only really cared for the character Livvy...and once in awhile, I didn't mind Henri....the rest of the them...pfft! I thought the character of Gen (the next door neighbour to Livvy) was made to be a very uncaring person...not the sort you would want to be with as you are spending your last moments on earth and revisiting your own sad life story. I don't know what you were suppose to feel when the book only sympathy was for Livvy and she seemed to ha ...more
Apr 28, 2013 Krista rated it it was amazing
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.
Becky Davison
Jul 01, 2014 Becky Davison rated it really liked it
I'd actually give this a 4.5.

I devoured this book in three sittings.

A story of Livvy’s life, told near the end, as memories of her youth return to her in her sleep, the story unfolds over a few days. It’s a captivating tale of her family, how Livvy uncovers the secret history and how it shapes the entirety of her life.

The book felt short in comparison to my recent read of The Goldfinch (270 pages vs 780) and I was left wanting more of Livvy’s adult life, more story. That being said The Decept
Feb 10, 2016 Wendybrum rated it really liked it
I wanted to really like this book - because I find Morrissey's writing to be so eloquent and descriptive. BUT... the story was one of sadness, a lifetime of lies, deception, misery... just doom and gloom for the characters. Livvy is a survivor and a strong woman but her life has just been one sadness after another. The one true joy in her life is Henri, who is also taken from her.

I found much of the book a challenge to get through, but persevered and feel that the ending gives Livvy and the read
Jun 09, 2014 Liadra rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2014
I first fell in love with Donna Morrisey with Kit's Law. This book was a little harder to get into due to the narrative structure, but well worth keeping on. Livvy's story, as she meanders in and out of cognizance is fascinating. There's always the question at the back of your mind: What /is/ the deception? Sure, you get hints at the beginning of the story. Old wives tales. Stories told to scare little children. You wonder.. but then you forget. You get caught up in all the things that are unfol ...more
Paula Dembeck
Sep 09, 2015 Paula Dembeck rated it really liked it
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 s
Jan 26, 2013 Charlotte rated it really liked it
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 as
Jun 12, 2013 Julia rated it really liked it
Shelves: canadian-author
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 Newf
Jul 24, 2012 Sharlene rated it really liked it
Shelves: first-reads
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 d
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Jul 11, 2013 Brian added it
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 ...more
Mar 23, 2015 Evi rated it liked it
I'll give it a strong 3.5 star.

Livvy Higgs is a doddering elderly woman living in Halifax. For two traumatic days, she suffers a series of small heart attacks. As she floats in and out of consciousness, the ghost of her younger self leads her back through a past devastated by lies and secrets.

Morrissey did a terrific job of weaving the two stories of past and present together, almost as if you were dreaming along with Livvy.

I loved Livvy, but the other characters were a bit lacking, especially
Feb 20, 2016 Amy rated it liked it
Hmm, what to say about this book...

I found the modern day sections with Gen unbelievable, annoying, and unnecessary. I would have much preferred a book about young Livvy and nothing else. Despite Livvy being the main character, she wasn't very well developed. I didn't get to know her at all other than her suspicions of her father and grandmother, and her sympathy towards her mother.

The best part of this book was that it was set in the maritimes!
Margaret1358 Joyce
Jun 15, 2014 Margaret1358 Joyce rated it really liked it
The trajectory of this haunting tale is essentially spiritual-the remembered life of the now-80-year old protagonist, Livvy-somewhat of an eccentric, now living in Halifax, Nova Scotia, but formerly of Sables D'Or, Newfoundland. The tale is a marvelous achievement in atmospheric lyricism and redemptive memory sequences. A worthwhile read by an incredible Canadian writer.
Jul 31, 2015 Christine rated it liked it
This was better than some of her more recent books, but it still missed the mark for me. While I enjoyed reading it, once I got to the end I realized there was really no resolution and nothing uplifting about Livvy's story. A story of secrets, deception and hardship, I found it kind of depressing. This will probably be the last of Donna Morrissey's books I will read.
Aug 18, 2014 Wisewebwoman rated it did not like it
Shelves: could-not-finish
I've tried before with Donna Morrissey. And now I've tried again. I could not invest any emotion in Livvy, the book wandered back and forth between present and past. But not in a good way. Could not get my head around the mother-in-law in collusion with her son-in-law (Livvy's father)and Livvy's mother portrayed as a free spirit, sort of, wanting to work in her husband's shop. Maybe the book should have been about the French neighbours.

Putdownable. I could not care.
Dorothyanne Brown
Sep 28, 2013 Dorothyanne Brown rated it really liked it
Donna Morrissey is a woman of charm and grace. She can make a cat laugh. But in behind that charming, cheery exterior is some deep deep thinking and emotion. This book was a tough read. Initially I had trouble getting into the setting and characters, but give it a chance - Morrissey's writing tendrils creep in and wrap tightly around your heart.
Family secrets are the theme here, and the damage done because of them.It isn't hard to identify with the dark struggles and the feelings of abandonment.
Nov 01, 2012 Sheila rated it liked it
Livvy Higgs is an elderly woman, reflecting back to her life in Newfoundland, when she was young during the early 1930's. She seems to have always been a angry, difficult individual. Livvy's own mother, Cecile, poisoned her against both Livvy's father and her maternal grandmother. Cecile died when Livvy was a young girl and after a falling out, Livvy is sent to Halifax to live with her grandmother, Cecile's mother. She is suspicious of her grandmother's stories, tainted by Cecile's frequent rant ...more
Jul 16, 2015 Amy rated it really liked it
Recommended to Amy by: ???
This was a sad and lovely story, set in Halifax and Newfoundland. Well written, with an easily understandable moving back and forth from old age to memories of being a young woman. Character of Livvy and her father were well developed.
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Donna Morrissey is the award-winning author of Kit’s Law, Downhill Chance, What They Wanted, and Sylvanus Now, which was shortlisted for the Commonwealth Writers’ Prize. She recently wrote a children’s book, Cross Katie Kross, illustrated by her daughter, Bridget. Morrissey grew up in The Beaches, a small fishing outport in Newfoundland & Labrador and now lives in Halifax, Nova Scotia.
More about Donna Morrissey...

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