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Sylvanus Now

3.81  ·  Rating Details  ·  597 Ratings  ·  58 Reviews
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 f ...more
Paperback, 336 pages
Published April 17th 2006 by W. W. Norton & Company (first published September 1st 2004)
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 944)
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Dorothyanne Brown
Nov 06, 2012 Dorothyanne Brown rated it it was amazing
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 chea ...more
Apr 10, 2015 Krystle rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
6/5 stars!

Sylvanus Now is one of the best Newfoundland books I've read, and I've read quite 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 abou
Oct 10, 2008 Pauline rated it really liked it
"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 wife.

Adelaide 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 infat
Aug 31, 2007 Karen rated it it was amazing
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 ...more
Jan 13, 2009 Sharon rated it it was amazing
Straight out of Newfoundland, you'll feel yourself living in that place and doubtlessly searching your own heart. Another excellent read!
Aug 06, 2013 Tina rated it it was amazing
Sylvanus Now by Donna Morrissey

When was the last time you read a book that was so beautifully written that you took the time to reread passages? “She’d seen the soft green of the first seedling push its head above ground and quiver upon the slightest breath.” “Sylvanus Now” is not only the title but the name of the main character, a stubborn man , who wants to live a simple life of fishing in a tiny village on the coast of Newfoundland. He figures out exactly how much fish he must catch and prep
Mar 24, 2009 Michael rated it really liked it
I admire novelists who are able to capture the living soul of a culture. One of the best I’ve found in that regard is Canadian, east coast novelist Donna Morrissey. Her novels are vivid portraits of maritime Canada which probe the deep set values of the people who inhabit it. She also recreates the east coast dialect convincingly.

“Sylvanus Now” portrays a culture whose ingrained way of life is being pushed aside by the advance of technology. We watch as Sylvanus Now proudly and stubbornly resist
3.5 stars

It is the 1950s in Newfoundland. Adelaide has grown up taking care of all her younger siblings, but hates hearing them scream and longs for time to herself. Sylvanus becomes a fisherman, but as technology and times change, he clings to the old ways. It is the beginning of the decline of the fisheries.

It started off quite slow and I wasn't sure if I was going to like it. About a third of the way in, I suddenly found it much more interesting. I can't say the pace picked up or anything, b
Apr 02, 2015 Belinda rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
The very best part of this book is the authors special talent for capturing the lyrical value and the uniqueness of the Newfoundland tongue without butchering the written word as some less talented authors tend to attempt when they want to mimic a different dialect (for lack of a better term).

The main characters were intriguing and their overall storyline resonated with me, however the background characters were quite one dimensional and there were a few jumps of time within chapters which just
Marjana Simic
Jan 25, 2011 Marjana Simic rated it liked it
After reading ‘Downhill Chance’ by one of Atlantic Canada’s best authors, Donna Morrissey, I was left pondering the novel for quite some time. A couple of years later, I ran into Sylvanus Now, her third book, by pure accident. Knowing how thoroughly she crafts her characters, I was convinced this book would live up to my expectations. Once again, my instinct proved me right.

Set in the 1950′s fishing community of Atlantic Canada, the story is an unlikely one. It follows the lives of a young coupl
Sometimes a book may not have an action packed plot-line, but the words on the page transport the reader into the day-to-day world of the story so eloquently, that one feels as if they have been there. I know what the wind from the point of a tiny town on Newfoundland tastes like. I've heard the crash of the waves, and the sting of the salt as the fish are set to dry. I've lived with the people of that town, through their sorrows, and seen their hopes.

I was fascinated to learn about the coastal
Ronald Kelland
Aug 10, 2013 Ronald Kelland rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I grew up in Alberta, but I come from St. John's, so I therefore have no personal connection to outport Newfoundland life. Despite this, Morrissey's novels of rural Newfoundland always bring me to a comfortable, nostalgic place. This may seem odd, because Morrissey's characters usually have to deal with terrible heartaches, problems and pain. This book is no exception in that regard. Set against the backdrop of resettlement and a modernizing fishery, a young couple find each other because they d ...more
Nov 18, 2010 Mrsgaskell rated it liked it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Apr 11, 2009 Sheri rated it really liked it
Shelves: canadian-authors
I'm going to start my reviews halfway through a book because I don't remember alot of what impressed me as important by the end.
Sylvanus is the strong and silent type. He loves to go fishing, his life's work, and likes his time alone. Then he spots a beautiful young thing and is totally smitten by her. She is trapped in a house taking care of the constant brood of children that her mother continues to bear and is devastated when she has to give up school, which she loves and excels in, to work
May 06, 2015 Vionna rated it really liked it
This is a very powerful novel about the fishing outports in Newfoundland during the1950s and 1960s. We follows the lives of the people living there through their hardships especially the denuding of the Grand Banks of the cod and halibut by foreign countries. The ocean also plays a very important part of their lives. It can let you fish peacefully one minute and then throw your ship against rocks another. The characters were memorable.
Apr 10, 2009 Louise rated it did not like it
Shelves: fiction
Didn't like this story, it wasn't nearly as good as all the hype I'd heard about it.

"The time is the 1950's, and the place is Canada's Atlantic coast at the edge of the great Newfoundland fishing banks. Sylvanus Now is a young fisherman of great charm and strength. 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
Mar 18, 2015 Evi rated it really liked it
I continue my journey through Newfoundland and the stories of Donna Morrissey. Sylvanus Now did not disappoint. With Morrissey's words you can feel the bite of the wind off the water and smell the cod waiting to dry on the flakes.

Sylvanus Now and his wife, Adelaide, struggle to save their way of life as the large fishing trawlers threaten to suck not only fish from the sea but the life from a community.
Jan 27, 2015 Christine rated it liked it
I was excited to read another Donna Morrissey book, but I found this one a little boring. It was a good account of the demise of the cod stocks in Newfoundland and the plight of the fishermen whose lives changed drastically as a result. As historical fiction it was pretty good, but it wasn't the great read that Kit's Law was.
Jan 20, 2016 Roni added it
I am a big fan of Donna Morrissey and books about Newfoundland. I picked up Kit's Law in the Halifax airport years ago and was hooked. I just finished this book and it did not disappoint. She captures the feeling of the rocky shores and hard scrabble life in the fishing villages.
Meghan Crowley
Sep 26, 2014 Meghan Crowley rated it it was amazing
Wow! I have no good reason for taking this long to read Sylvanus Now--it was published in 2005. I'm incredibly happy to have finally put on my shelf. The social/political landscape in this NFLD outport is described with such authenticity and care, I was moved until the novel's end.
May 18, 2015 Veronica rated it really liked it
This is a touching story about two young people in 1950's and 1960's Newfoundland who marry and survive by fishing. It is a tale of their struggles together and the struggles of the cod industry and the resettlement offers made by the government of that time. Well written.
Peggy Walt
Apr 17, 2015 Peggy Walt rated it really liked it
Re-read this with my book club; it had been a number of years since I'd read it. Enjoyed it very much. Donna's depiction of a fading way of life in the Newfoundland Outports is impeccable and I loved the language.
Aug 05, 2015 Joan rated it really liked it
Shelves: fiction
Morrissey writes with beautiful imagery and metaphor - a love story based in the declining years of the Newfoundland fishery and relocation from the outports.
Jun 16, 2015 Peggy rated it really liked it
This book was a departure of what I normally read, it was beautifully written. The story captured my attention from the first page and held it until the last. I will certainly recommend this to my friends.
Athena Nicole
Aug 21, 2013 Athena Nicole rated it really liked it
I picked this book up several years ago and started reading it. I had to stop because I was afraid of where the book was going, having then recently had my own brush with depression. When I picked it up again this summer, I was ready for this story of bitter disappointment and resiliency of spirit. The story is harshly beautiful. I would recommend the book to those who understand the pain of loss, but who are a little removed from it at the point of reading. Caution: This book has the potential ...more
Jul 22, 2014 Mary rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: canadiana
A tale of outport newfoundland and life drying fish. While the sense of time and place is gripping, I preferred Downhill Chance.
Mar 13, 2011 C rated it really liked it
Hooked me like a jigger - I love Donna Morrissey.
The love story of Sylvanus & Adelaide in a small outport in Newfoundland trying to make a happy life in the 50's and 60's during the steep and severe decline of the Newfoundland fishing industry. It was saddening and maddening to read about the government's reaction to foreign fishing trawlers overfishing Newfoundland's fertile shores. A melancholy read, but thoroughly enjoyable - excellent writing and imaginative description made me feel lik
Feb 01, 2016 Sarah rated it really liked it
Loved this story!
Nov 22, 2012 Stacy rated it really liked it
I had to read this, having read the sequel. I wish I had read it before What They Wanted, since it would have helped me to understand the family dynamic. This book also takes place entirely in Nfld., so there is so much more in it about the land, the fishing industry, the folklore, the language. Morissey is incredibly talented in relating the whole Nfld. ethic. What stays with you after everything else, is the beauty. You may not have actually seen and experienced the Island, but you feel as tho ...more
Alex DK
Mar 27, 2015 Alex DK rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Enjoyed this Newfoundland based story, read for the library book club.
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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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