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Downhill Chance

3.86  ·  Rating details ·  609 ratings  ·  44 reviews
With Kit’s Law, Donna Morrissey established herself as a gifted storyteller. Her chronicle of life in a remote Newfoundland outport was acclaimed by critics and embraced by readers worldwide. Downhill Chance is a captivating successor to Morrissey’s first novel. Set in a pair of isolated fishing communities in Newfoundland during and after the Second World War, this is the ...more
Paperback, 448 pages
Published July 15th 2003 by Mariner Books (first published January 1st 2002)
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Average rating 3.86  · 
Rating details
 ·  609 ratings  ·  44 reviews

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Jul 27, 2019 rated it it was amazing
“Downhill Chance” is one of Donna Morrissey’s longer novels and that’s a very good thing. Morrissey is one of my favourite writers. I always want more as I read her works, so the more pages the better.

“Downhill Chance” is the story of two Newfoundland families whose fates are linked by marriage, by tragedy and by the ravages of WW2. Both families are haunted by dark secrets that reverberate from one generation to the next. Clair Gales is the compelling heroine who anchors all the other character
Oct 12, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I am really going to miss this book; the people really got under my skin. Imagine having these folk in tiny outports being the centre of a book about WWll and about the Confederation issue. The events are huge in Canadian history, yet the way they play out in these little lives and the horrible results in some cases, become much bigger to the reader.
I felt some confusion as to where we were in the narrative, as Morrisey switches back and forth in time, almost in the same sentence sometimes and
Feb 12, 2012 rated it really liked it
This is a beautifully written novel that describes ,in Newfoundland argot, the hard life of the outports where men extract a difficult & dangerous living from fishing, logging, and hunting, while the women support them with affection & household chores. It takes place during the late 1930's & ends some times after confederation(1948). It deals with 2 small outports & interweaves 3 families through friendship, jealousy, tragedy & death, marriage & childbirth.
The main characters are well describe
Aug 23, 2010 rated it it was amazing
Luke turned to him. "Courage?" he asked incredulously. "I ran like chickenshit." ...more
Oct 17, 2010 rated it really liked it
Different. I've never read or heard anything about Newfoundland. I thought it was an excellently told story, especially because it still comes to mind a long time after reading it. ...more
Lori Bosworth
Jul 07, 2019 rated it really liked it
I love reading Canadian fiction set in Newfoundland. It's so interesting to read about the vastly different lifestyle and culture that is greatly influenced by the weather. I also love the Newfoundland dialect reflecting the folksy warmth of its people. I can't believe it took me almost three years to read this book! I picked it up, read a few chapters and then would put it down in favour of a book offering more excitement...but I should have powered through because this story greatly picks up s ...more
Glenna Morrison
Aug 12, 2018 rated it really liked it
Donna Morrissey has a knack for creating characters who pull you into their lives by the end of page one. She quickly constructs her setting with such vivid descriptions that before you are aware of it, you are living the events alongside the characters. Downhill Chance is set in outport Newfoundland in the 1940s. It depicts the hard scrabble life in a small community cut off from the rest of the world and living through desperate times. It is a story of the tragedy of war not only for the soldi ...more
Peter B
Oct 29, 2020 rated it really liked it
The story of a family torn apart by the decision of a father and respected member of the community to fight in World War II when the rest of the men decided not to serve. The family is destroyed by the town and by their relations who use and abuse them.
When the father returns he is tormented by his experience. We later learn that he cared so much for his fellows that he constantly put himself at greatest risk and that he accidentally killed one of the other Newfoundlanders he was helping.
The pro
Linda Saunders
Nov 16, 2020 rated it really liked it

I must confess that I have been a fan since I read Kit’s Law, many years ago,
and was surprised to find that this one has escaped me til now.
I found “Downhill Chance” both beautifully written and compelling.

Donna Morrissey’s stories aren’t for the faint of heart... they’re gritty, graphic, expansive and chock a block full of thought provoking snippets about life. Especially life on The Rock... where Newfoundlanders have been surviving and thriving by their wits, their skills and more importantly
Kelly  Anne
May 08, 2020 rated it liked it
Shelves: 2020
3½ Stars
I read this book immediately after reading the author’s previous publication ‘Kit’s Law’. As with that book ‘Downhill Chance’ didn’t really grab my interest until well into the story. I liked more of the characters in this one than in the previous books and the portrayal of the mental anguish inflicted on a soldier returning from WWII is well done. There are similarities between the two books; both main characters leave a small outport full of petty, small-minded, cruel people to find so
Aug 07, 2018 rated it it was amazing
I picked up this book in a used book store, because I had read another book by the same author. I was not disappointed! This is another amazing story about life in the desolate areas along the Newfoundland coast, and how the characters in the book find meaning, and hope, and love in the midst of their hard lives and tragedy. A very good read!
Ramona Jennex
Aug 27, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Donna Morrissey is a superb storyteller! Not only does she give her characters an authentic voice, she grounds her reader with a deep sense of place within a rich story.
I had to stop to ponder some of the comments her characters made throughout the book (An example- "fate resides within time as life within the seed that impregnates it." )
I highly recommend Downhill Chance!
Oct 27, 2017 rated it it was ok
I didn't care much for this book and found it extremely slow going. The second half of the book was better than the first - but not by much. I only persevered with this book as I couldn't not finish it having already given on a different book this year! ...more
Susan Quenneville
Nov 01, 2017 rated it it was amazing
A complicated yet fascinating read about life in a small Newfoundland town filled with superstition, abuse, and the ravages of the War. The story has a lovely ending with reconciliation between sisters due to the determination of nine-year old Hannah.
May 25, 2018 rated it really liked it
Nobody writes family like Donna Morrissey, and once again she has produced gripping story of the power of fear, shame and love.

On top of the story itself, she invokes the geography of time and place so beautifully and terribly that I dreamt it every night.
Apr 04, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Donna Morrissey is an extremely talented storyteller. Written beautifully ,Downhill Chance takes us to Newfoundland, immersing us into the lives of two families, the Osmonds and Gales. Morrissey's narrative had me feeling like I was living the story, not just reading about it.

Excellent read.
May 25, 2019 rated it really liked it
What a great story. Written during and after WW2, it paints an interesting picture of life in Newfoundland's outports--the families and friends and how they search for answers and understanding of life. ...more
Paulette Gauthier
Aug 24, 2020 rated it it was amazing
After reading Kit’s Law I couldn’t wait to read Downhill Chance. I was not disappointed and really enjoyed this book. There were many layers to the story and many of the characters had their secrets and their burden to bear. I’m looking forward to reading her next book.
Oct 10, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Now I know what touten is....'a type of traditional pancake commonly made in Newfoundland'..yum!
Thankx Donna Morrissey.
Jacques Richer
May 03, 2018 rated it did not like it
Ok Donna, I don’t have a newfi vocab. Nor do I understand the outpost mentality that you do but could you be kinder to us mainlanders and explain to us what the hell is going on in your novel!!!
Nov 11, 2010 rated it did not like it
I almost didn't finish this book, but struggled through it. I found that it was a chore to keep up with the storyline. The author had moments of lovely writing interspersed throughout, but I found it wasted on this book because of the general negative theme. The dialect didn't really seem accurate and there were situations that didn't jive with the Canadian way of life. For instance, at one point someone was drinking iced tea for breakfast. My mother being a Canadian, I know that wouldn't have t ...more
Jan 04, 2010 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: Norma
Recommended to Diane by: Tom Fleming
I could almost not stop reading this book. Beautiful writing and compelling story. It is so strange for me when a setting far far from my own tells me a truth and makes me feel that the author is speaking in my own voice even.(It happened even more strongly with the first Nadine Gordimer book I read) The story is set in remote Newfoundland around the time of WW II. Most of the story is told from the perspective of two young girls - Clair and then later, her daughter Hannah. It deals with confron ...more
Mar 04, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is my second Donna Morrissey novel and she did not disappoint. Again she takes the reader off on a journey to the wild Newfoundland landscape and a pair of isolated outport villages in the bleak years during and after WWII.

Over at Rocky Head, Prude Osmond reads her tea leaves and predicts dark days ahead. At the Basin, an hour's boat ride away, Job Gale decides to join the war, leaving behind his wife, Sare and two daughters, Clair and Missy.

At the core of the book is the unravelling of se
It was a hard one to get into but I persisted to the end and that is saying something . Too much foolishiness about fairies and such and I hope that is not her best book . Some of the things the chatacters were doing was bizarre and unreal and therefore unbelivable , so that takes away from the story as such . And it was hard to follow the story through . Ah , just not one of the real good reads but okay to past away the time as I see it .
This novel about forgiveness of oneself and others delivers a real sense of what it was like to live in rural coastal Newfoundland in the 1940's and 50's. The main characters, sisters Clair and Missy, are well drawn, as is Clair's daughter Hannah. The story has such an epic quality to it that I wanted to rated it higher than 3 stars, but it's a bit long-winded and some characters are more caricature than flesh and blood: Prude, the sisters' grandmother and Uncle Sim, for example. ...more
Apr 11, 2011 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: canadian
I wouldn't say it's as good as Kit's Law. In fact it's probably about only half as good but it was still an interesting read. The talk of fairies bugged me a bit, I"m not really the whimsical type. If you like Canadian fiction I would certainly recommend reading this book (probably more enjoyable to women than men). ...more
Nov 18, 2012 rated it really liked it
I really enjoyed this book but did have a difficult time adjusting to the Newfoundland dialect that it is written in. The characters lure you in with their hardships and you just want to keep reading hoping for a good outcome for them. I am on to my last of her three books, Sylvanus now. I enjoy her story telling.
Jul 30, 2015 rated it really liked it
This is a great big book set mainly in two Newfoundland outports during the second world war, when Newfound;and was not yet a province in Canada. The isolation from the rest of the world was thorough. Good writing, steeped in place. Sometimes I felt a little too foreign to completely comprehend, but well worth the effort reqyired.
Mar 04, 2009 rated it it was amazing
If you liked The Shipping News by Annie Proulx you'll love Donna Morrissey's books. This story follows the story of siblings leaving home - small outport town in Newfoundland - for the money to be made in Alberta's oil boom. Wonderfully drawn family, landscape... just a fantastic read. ...more
Jul 27, 2011 rated it liked it
Loved it! Amazing characters, wonderful story. Full of place and scenes. A little too much scene and not enough action at times. Why wait to the end to fill in all the parts missing? But as a second novel, it was darn good.

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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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