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Sylvanus Now

(Sylvanus Now)

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3.88  ·  Rating details ·  950 ratings  ·  102 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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Average rating 3.88  · 
Rating details
 ·  950 ratings  ·  102 reviews


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D.A. Brown
Nov 06, 2012 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
Lars Jerlach
May 18, 2017 rated it really liked it
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 frequent 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
...more
Krystle
Apr 08, 2015 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
...more
Pauline
Jun 28, 2008 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
...more
Ann
Dec 11, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
A Canadian masterpiece!

Donna 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 community.

Morrissey's tale is breathtaking beautiful. It sounds a simple story, but she tells it in su
...more
Karen
Aug 31, 2007 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
Sharon
Jan 13, 2009 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! ...more
Orla Hegarty
I've tried this author with another book before and it didn't 'stick'. This one did. I've been living in outport Newfoundland for 7 years now and loved the historical fiction in this story. I look forward to finishing this series. ...more
Susan Khaladkar
Mar 17, 2017 rated it really liked it
Loved this book. Great story, well written and riveting. Can't wait to read What They Wanted but I have to buy it first. ...more
Tammy
Feb 08, 2020 rated it really liked it
First of my Newfoundland reads. The first part moved quickly for me. Didn’t love ending. Looking forward to book 2. Descriptive.
Joanne
Mar 14, 2017 rated it liked it
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 quickly 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 oce
...more
Paula Dembeck
Jun 10, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Atlantic Canadian writer Donna Morrissey has set her third novel against the background of the failing cod fishery in 1950s Newfoundland. Fishing was the mainstay of the island, the work that for hundreds of years had fed and supported families living in scattered and isolated fishing villages along the huge island’s coast. Getting around the island was difficult so fishermen settled as close to their fishing grounds as they could, clustering in small groups in scattered outport settlements. The ...more
Kris - My Novelesque Life
Nov 02, 2016 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: fans of canadian fiction
RATING: 4 STARS
(Review Not on Blog)

"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
...more
Michael
Mar 24, 2009 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
...more
Tina
Aug 06, 2013 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
...more
Marianne Last
I felt this book in my bones as I was reading it! The prose is some of the most poetic and elegant I've read in a long time. This book isn't about reading to get to the end, it's about the journey and making every word count. I appreciate that in a book and in an author's skill. ...more
Claire Abbott
May 10, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Words can't do justice to this beauty. ...more
Kathleen McRae
Sep 05, 2017 rated it liked it
Shelves: novel
The writing in this book was evocative and the characters well defined, however, it was a depressing story.
Doreen
Mar 07, 2012 rated it really liked it
Shelves: personal-library
I read this book in 2005 when it was first published. I’ve subsequently read the two other books in the trilogy: What They Wanted and The Fortunate Brother. I recommended Donna Morrissey to my book club and suggested we start with Sylvanus Now since it’s the first in the series. And it gave me an opportunity to re-read it. I think a second reading of it only heightened my appreciation.

Sylvanus Now is a fisherman from the Newfoundland outport community of Cooney Arm. He falls in love with Adelaid
...more
Brett
Sep 06, 2018 rated it really liked it
I read this book in preparation for a hiking trip in Newfoundland this fall. The story takes place in a small fishing village on the coast of NF in the 1950s and beyond. The historical context is the collapse of the cod fishery of NF with the arrival of industrial fishing. This is an ominous presence throughout the book as Sylvanus Now, one of the two main characters, is committed emotionally and economically to traditional fishing* methods. In the midst of this, Sylvanus falls in love with a he ...more
CarolynAnn
3.5 star
I bought this book primarily because I'm a fan of Morrissey's writing even though I didn't find the cover synopsis particularly compelling. I found the story quite slow at the start but certainly enjoyed the descriptions, language and atmosphere she created which transport the reader directly to the outports of Newfoundland. But it didn't take long for me to get caught up in the characters and story and I could certainly feel the great challenges that Newfoundlanders faced as their way o
...more
Nuzhat
Nov 22, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
While this took me a while to get through, I did ultimately enjoy it. I wasn't expecting to relate to the characters as much as I did because of the unfamiliarity of their life in the late 1950s on the shores of Newfoundland. The author captures the harsh environment and how it influences people. I also think this tale of having to make individual compromises because of the changes that the system is imposing because of ignorance and profit can be a foreshadowing of what is currently happening w ...more
Jeanine
Jan 30, 2021 rated it it was amazing
This is a hauntingly beautiful book about a fisher family in a Newfoundland outport in the 1950s. Times are changing in the fishing industry and Sylvanus Now and his family are forced to make decisions that will impact their livelihood.

The story was well written. I felt like I was there; that the characters were real. And that I had been a privileged guest in their home.

If you love books about Newfoundland, or family relationships, or historical fiction, I think you would love this gem of a bo
...more
Annette
Mar 24, 2017 rated it liked it
I liked this story better as it went along. Life for fishermen and the community is difficult expertly explained here. I could feel the cold sea and weather, chilling to the bone. Not a life for me but beautiful in itself I imagine for those where it is home.
Time seems important, the longness of it, the passing, the sorrow with brief contentments . . it seems treacherous at times when waiting for a spouse to come home from the waters, or when one knows he is not returning.
A plain 3.5 stars, so
...more
Lester
Oct 10, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Oh the intricacies of lives!!

Good quote...
"What's you pouting about now-- the flakes or your wife? Bend over, my son, I kicks your arse. Go dig a hole, Jake, we buries him. Where's that shovel? go on home, b'ye, if that's what you're going to do all night, sit there and mope...."

Even better if you have good friends from the East Coast and whilst I am reading Donna Morrissey's books..I can hear my friends talking!!
Thank you again DM for the wonder of your stories.
...more
Daniel Kukwa
Jun 22, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: canadian-lit
Evocative and heartbreaking...which is now all I expect from Atlantic Canadian writers. What keeps the reader going to the end of the novel is a small, shining thread of hope running through the story. It refuses to diminish, even during the darkest events. Hold on to it tightly, and you might be surprised at the outcome.
Florence O'Neill
Jun 21, 2018 rated it it was amazing
This was a capital L Love Story, about strong commitment and devotion. Set in outport Newfoundland at the time of the downturn in the fishery, it highlights the strength of character of the people and their struggle to maintain their way of life. Sylvanus and Adelaide epitomize integrity and real love.
Milly
Apr 21, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Beautifully written. Fascinating characters as well as a history of cod fishing in Newfoundland. I enjoyed every page but be sure to have a dictionary of Newfoundland English by your side (or on your screen) unless you are a native of Newfoundland.
So many new and wonderful words. Very happy to have discovered Donna Morrissey.
Denise
Jul 13, 2020 rated it really liked it
I really enjoy the work of Donna Morrissey. Sylvanus Now is a fine book, well worth reading. Set in Outport Newfoundland in the 1950's and 1960's, the book is a story about the coming of age not just of the main character of Sylvanus Now, but of his bride Addie and, indeed, the province of Newfoundland as well. A charming story. ...more
Rennie
Jul 18, 2020 rated it really liked it
Characters got this story 4 stars. You could not help but care about them flaws and all. The decline and fall of the fishing industry in NFLD was a major feature of this book and I have to admit I skimmed some of that detail but it was a powerful story that I suspect I will remember for some time.
Note: Some of the narrative is written in a dialect that can be a bit challenging. It does contribute to the sense of place though and is not done to the point of being annoying.
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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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