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The Deception of Livvy Higgs

3.73  ·  Rating details ·  622 ratings  ·  120 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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Average rating 3.73  · 
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Jan 22, 2018 rated it really liked it
This compelling and tragic story is told by 80-year-old Livvy Higgs. Current health issues evoke long-dormant memories for the woman living in Halifax. She remembers her childhood in Sables d'Or on the French Shore of Newfoundland and her life in Halifax during the war.

None of the adults in Livvy's life come out well. Her mother tells the child, "Your father's a paltry white bastard...and I'm a stupid cow." Livvy's father tells her little. Her Grandmother Creed is another complicated adult not t
Luanne Ollivier
Sep 19, 2012 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 fac
In THE DECEPTION OF LIVVY HIGGS, Donna Morrissey introduces readers to an unforgettable character whose formidable strength is rooted in the harsh but beguiling landscape of the East Coast.

Halifax 2009. Over two traumatic days, LIVVY Higgs is besieged by a series of small heart attacks. The ghost of her younger self leads her back to the French Shore of Newfoundland during the mid-thirties heyday of the Maritime shipping industry, through war torn Halifax during the Battle of the Atlantic, and
Penguin Random House Canada
Jul 13, 2012 rated it it was amazing
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
Bjorn Larsen
Jun 26, 2015 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.
Barbara Carter
Mar 01, 2019 rated it really liked it

This book was published in 2012. It being on my list to read for quite some time.
But memoir and other non-fiction always takes priority.
I’ve read all of Donna Morrissey’s previous books, and this one is definitely a favourite.
I like the realness and depth of her characters. It’s as close to memoir as I feel fiction can come. The dialogue always so wonderful and real, spoken by unforgettable characters
This book is about uncovering secrets and lies, and ghosts of the past.
Her words just say it so
Sep 14, 2012 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
Sep 14, 2012 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. ...more
J. Stephen
Feb 10, 2013 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.
Mar 26, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: canada
It took a while for me to get into this book. I'd pick it up, put it back down, while trying to decide whether to keep on reading it. I'm very glad I did. It worked it's way into my heart page by page, as the elderly Liv drifts back and forth in time, remembering her childhood and youth.
The child of a loveless marriage, she loses her mother to an early death and is left behind with a cold, unpleasant father and a devious, manipulative grandmother who between them carry some pretty ugly secrets.
Jul 07, 2017 rated it liked it
I found many things to like about this book. I really enjoyed the clever way that Morrissey blended the past with the present. I liked the multi-generational story and the descriptions of the people and place. I liked the writing style - quite readable.
The reason for only 3 stars is basically the final resolution. I was expecting so much more from the "deception". It really fell flat for me, or I didn't quite get it, but either way, it was disappointing. I also found the character of the next d
Sep 21, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: canlit
Donna Morrissey has quickly established herself as a must read author for me. I can't believe it took me so long to discover her! But now that I have, I intend to read everything! I haven't felt this kind of love for an author since Jane Austen, and that's saying something. A four star rating but only because I wanted more. MORE! Morrissey has a gift when it comes to character development, and so when it came to the present day relationship between Livvy and Gen, I wanted more time with them. Ge ...more
Carol McKnight
Jul 27, 2019 rated it did not like it
Life is too short to try to finish a book that I really didn’t enjoy. So I didn’t , finish that is. I struggled to get halfway through, then thought, no I didn’t retire to read boring books. I picked this up because it was a Canadian author and generally, I have been very impressed with their writing. But not this time.
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
Nov 08, 2012 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. ...more
Feb 16, 2013 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.
Anna Macdonald
Jan 27, 2016 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2016
Enjoyed this. Thank you, Heather!
May 18, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: canadian
I just love Donna Morrissey and everything she has written. This one is no exception.
In her old age and her approaching death, Livvy Higgs is reliving her difficult childhood. It is hard to tell if the replay of her life gives her new insights, and that bothered me. It seems that her mother never was able to get past her childhood (I guess her mother never really had a chance to do so), and there is some sense that Livvy has not either. Livvy seems to have remained rather isolated. It is difficult to imagine how a person like Livvy is able to interpret almost everything in a neg ...more
Daniel Kukwa
Mar 09, 2017 rated it liked it
Shelves: canadian-lit
The parts of this novel set in Newfoundland and wartime Halifax are exquisitely written, and make for some incredibly evocative & gripping storytelling. However, I wasn't enamored with the present-day story-line, and felt irritated every time the plot cycled back to the modern setting. This is also a terribly dark and cynical story, and there isn't much in the way of genuine happiness to be found in the lives the characters, making for a very grim and relentless atmosphere. There's more than eno ...more
My main motivation for reading this book was because I have really enjoyed others by this author and find the setting of her books in Newfoundland meaningful since I lived there for 20 years. While this wasn't my favourite Donna Morrissey novel and it took me a little bit to get into it, I did like it. As always, I find that Morrissey creates characters who are very real and interesting, as is the main character Livvy; I also really liked her neighbour and son so you are drawn in and want to kno ...more
Nov 02, 2017 rated it liked it
Every time I read one of Morrissey's books, I feel emotionally bereft and find myself asking, "what just happened"? I had trouble with some of the flashbacks as time merged and I wasn't sure where I was sometimes, perhaps like 80 year old Livvy as she struggled with her memories. The history of NFLD and Halifax before, during and after WWII was interesting. I enjoyed the two voices of Livvy: young and old. The cover of the edition of the book I have shows a faceless young woman dressed up with a ...more
May 31, 2017 rated it liked it
While I always enjoy Donna Morrisey's writing, I found this story a bit frustrating. The character of Livvy just somehow did not connect with me. I did not find myself sympathizing , liking , or disliking her. She simply .... was. And the character of Gen was just too bizarre to be taken seriously. On the whole, I did enjoy the read. But I would not highly recommend it to friends. It was okay. ...more
Mar 12, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Donna Morrissey is an amazing story teller and this book is no exception. I was drawn in within the first few pages and enjoyed every last word.
Set in western Newfoundland and in Halifax during WWII, there are details of Halifax's crucial involvement in the war that are not normally included in general fiction, but add so much to the vivid setting of this story.
Loved it!
Oct 20, 2017 rated it really liked it
Thank you AGAIN Donna Morrissey. Your stories are taking me on a trip within my road trip!!

New 'endearment' from this story...
The title is a transliteration of the Irish mo chuisle meaning "my pulse" as used in the phrase a chuisle mo chroí which means "pulse of my heart", and thus mo chuisle has come to mean "darling" or "sweetheart".

I like this!!
Ammie Parsons
Nov 24, 2017 rated it liked it
Shelves: the-book-witches
I liked this book more so at the end. It took me a long time to get into it but once I did I couldn't put it down. I did laugh out loud a few times at the Newfoundland Dialect, and it did sometimes make me feel as though I was there! Overall worth the read, just not my favorite Donna Morrissey novel. ...more
Denise Loveless
Jul 27, 2018 rated it it was ok
I am torn about this book because at first I did not like it but the more I read the more Livvy stayed on my mind. Secrets, it is all about secrets that continually affect your life and the decisions you make.
Oct 01, 2020 rated it it was ok
I did not like the author's style...far too many descriptive words and long-winded sentences. It was very difficult to get into it and find the thread of a plot but eventually it improved although for all the hype I certainly wouldn't recommend it or read it again. ...more
Tanya Cameron
Apr 11, 2021 rated it liked it
Tough to get through the first half, but picked up eventually. Didn't like the jumping between past and present, the confusion was a deterrent rather than a smart writing style. Some cool historical facts, but kept worrying about the cats through most of the book. ...more
Aug 25, 2017 rated it liked it
Elderly woman relives pivotal childhood experiences.
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Donna Morrissey has written six nationally bestselling novels. She has received awards in Canada, the U.S., and England. Her novel Sylvanus Now was shortlisted for the Commonwealth Writers’ Prize, and she was nominated for a Gemini for best writing for the film Clothesline Patch. Her fiction has been translated into several different languages. Born and raised in Newfoundland, she now lives in Hal

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