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Authors: Donna Morrissey

What They Wanted

BOOK: What They Wanted
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Praise for
What They Wanted

“Morrissey stands out for her descriptive powers, her wonderful turns of phrase and the inner complexities of her characters … she writes of the Newfoundland landscape with the lyricism of a poet … Sometimes a reviewer wants to tell readers everything about a book, about all the layers of complexity, all the beauties and grace, all the revelations, but I’ll restrain my enthusiasm in this case and conclude by saying: Read this book.”

—Lewis DeSoto,
The Globe and Mail

“A compassionate, insightful and gripping look at a family dragged through changing times … grief is so movingly presented that readers will feel it as their own.”

Winnipeg Free Press

“As the plot ratchets up, a harrowing midway ride that has us strapped in our seats, Morrissey reveals the beauty and the terror of two economic realities, worlds apart from us and from each other.”

Toronto Star

“Morrissey’s sentences always surprise and, like salted food, keep you wanting more … At once a sparkling gift from Newfoundland.”

Alberta Views

“Told with [Morrissey’s] familiar firecracker prose and gift for drenching her readers in the sights, sounds, and textures of her settings.”

Quill & Quire

What They Wanted
is Morrissey’s wisest, strongest, and most assured novel to date and it is classic Morrissey. She creates words and images that are dazzling in their originality. The novel pounds with the sound of the sea and the incessant noise of the machines and jimmies that suck the oil out of the depths of Alberta. The last third of the novel is transcendent.”

The Chronicle Herald

“This novel reinforces Donna Morrissey’s reputation as a gifted writer and storyteller. It is rich with descriptive metaphors and dialogue and it is as heartwarming as it is heartbreaking.”

Atlantic Books Today

“Morrissey is also an unapologetically emotional writer, and she succeeds at conveying the moods of men and women caught in a heartbreaking bind between what they want and what they need … Like [Thomas] Hardy, Morrissey writes with an intimate knowledge of the punishing rawness of her setting as well as her characters’ dreams and disappointments.”

The Gazette

“[Morrissey] brings a passionate intelligence to the Canadian literary scene.”

The Vancouver Sun

What They Wanted
is a moving portrayal of a family and a way of life in crisis. Its poignancy in both story and expression will be remembered long after the last page is turned.”

Edmonton Journal

“Morrissey’s depiction of Sylvie’s agony when tragedy descends is the most moving description of shocked grief I have ever encountered. Equally wrenching is Adelaide’s act of confession, by which she delivers her daughter from that dark night. I leave this novel caring about these characters as if they had entered my own life, and hoping—as the last pages hint—to meet them again. Morrissey has an authentic gift not only for creating characters who live off the page, but also for bringing alive the sweep of time and fortune that is bigger than any of us. These forces are not only history and material circumstance, but also the human bonds that, in a tangled and imperfect way, shape our spiritual destiny.”

Literary Review of Canada

“The action on the rig is brutal, complex, highly informed, and utterly compelling and it resolves itself in a finely written piece of industrial nightmare and something of a family reconciliation … A heartfelt picture of one family’s loss and the few gains such sacrifices attain.”

The StarPhoenix

“With rich lyrical language and her distinct voice, Donna Morrissey draws us once again into the beauty, pain, loves, and wrenching losses of her characters.
What They Wanted
is both an extended poem and a gripping tale of a brother and a sister and their journey from their beloved Newfoundland shores into the chaotic and threatening oil fields of Alberta. The world to which we are given entry here was entirely unfamiliar to me before I read Donna Morrissey’s fiction; now it is a part of me.”

—Edeet Ravel, author of

Your Sad Eyes and Unforgettable Mouth

Praise for Donna Morrissey

“Donna Morrissey is terrific, an absolute original.”

            —David Adams Richards, author of
The Lost Highway
The Friends of Meager Fortune

“There’s a sense in Morrissey’s writing that William Faulkner has met Annie Proulx … If her first novel [
Kit’s Law
] is anything to go by, Morrissey is almost certain to set new boundaries in fiction in Canada.”

Atlantic Books Today

“Morrissey’s voice, innocent, wise, funny and boisterous, and so expertly tuned to the music of the Newfoundland dialect, is simply irresistible.”

Books in Canada

“Donna Morrissey is a wonderfully gifted writer. The setting of her books is Newfoundland, but their appeal is universal. She unashamedly cares for her characters and sees them as real people with real lives worth caring and reading about. To read one of her books is to wind up laughing or crying or somehow doing both at once.”

—Wayne Johnston, author of
The Custodian of Paradise

“A Newfoundland Thomas Hardy.”

—The Globe and Mail

“Dazzlingly authentic. Both physical and emotional landscapes are charted with exquisite care.”

—Alistair MacLeod, author of
No Great Mischief

“Morrissey knows of what she writes.”

—Toronto Star

“Comparisons to Annie Proulx are inevitable, but
Kit’s Law
exists in a valley of its own saying, and in the directness of its tone, establishes its own authority.”

—Thomas Keneally, author of
Schindler’s List

“Perhaps Morrissey’s greatest asset as a writer is that ring of truth. From the verisimilitude with which she depicts life in the outports to the note-perfect dialogue to the rich and colloquial narrative voice, Morrissey rarely falters.”

Quill & Quire



is the award-winning author of four novels,
Kit’s Law, Downhill Chance, Sylvanus Now
, and
What They Wanted
, all set in Newfoundland and all subsequently translated into several languages.
Kit’s Law
won the CBA Libris Award, the Winifred Holtby Prize, and the American Library Association’s Alex Award. Both
Downhill Chance
Sylvanus Now
won the Thomas Head Raddall Atlantic Fiction Prize, and
Sylvanus Now
was the winner of the Atlantic Independent Booksellers Choice Award. Her screenplay,
Clothesline Patch
, won a Gemini Award. Morrissey grew up in The Beaches, a small fishing outport in Newfoundland, and now lives in Halifax.


Kit’s Law

Downhill Chance

Sylvanus Now



What They Wanted


Published by the Penguin Group

Penguin Group (Canada), 90 Eglinton Avenue East, Suite 700, Toronto, Ontario, Canada M4P 2Y3

(a division of Pearson Canada Inc.)

Penguin Group (USA) Inc., 375 Hudson Street, New York, New York 10014, U.S.A.

Penguin Books Ltd, 80 Strand, London WC2R 0RL, England

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(a division of Pearson Australia Group Pty Ltd)

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(a division of Pearson New Zealand Ltd)

Penguin Books (South Africa) (Pty) Ltd, 24 Sturdee Avenue, Rosebank, Johannesburg 2196, South Africa

Penguin Books Ltd, Registered Offices: 80 Strand, London WC2R 0RL, England

First published in Viking Canada hardcover by Penguin Group (Canada),

a division of Pearson Canada Inc., 2008

Published in this edition, 2009

1   2   3   4   5   6   7   8   9   10 (WEB)

Copyright © Donna Morrissey, 2008

All rights reserved. Without limiting the rights under copyright reserved above, no part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in or introduced into a retrieval system, or transmitted in any form or by any means (electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording or otherwise), without the prior written permission of both the copyright owner and the above publisher of this book.

Publisher’s note:This book is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places and incidents either are the product of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously, and any resemblance to actual persons living or dead, events, or locales is entirely coincidental.

Manufactured in Canada.


Morrissey, Donna, 1956-

What they wanted / Donna Morrissey.

ISBN 978-0-14-301427-0

I. Title.

PS8576.O74164W43 2009      C813’. 54      C2009-903398-4

Except in the United States of America, this book is sold subject to the condition that it shall not, by way of trade or otherwise, be lent, re-sold, hired out, or otherwise circulated without the publisher’s prior consent in any form of binding or cover other than that in which it is published and without a similar condition including this condition being imposed on the subsequent purchaser.

Visit the Penguin Group (Canada) website at

Special and corporate bulk purchase rates available; please see
or call 1-800-810-3104, ext. 477 or 474

For our beloved brother, Ford








BOOK: What They Wanted
11.74Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub

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