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Fiction Family Life

The Fortunate Brother

by (author) Donna Morrissey

Penguin Group Canada
Initial publish date
Sep 2016
Family Life, Literary, Sagas
  • Paperback / softback

    Publish Date
    Sep 2016
    List Price

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Winner of the 2017 Arthur Ellis Awards for Excellence in Canadian Crime Writing, Best Novel
Winner of the 2017 Thomas Raddall Atlantic Fiction Award
A powerful tale of a family reeling from the tragic loss of a son, while facing a mysterious murder on their doorstep--told by one of Canada's most beloved voices

After being uprooted from their fishing outport, the Now family is further devastated by the tragic loss of their eldest son, Chris, who died working on an Alberta oil rig. Kyle Now is still mourning his older brother when the murder of a local bully changes everything. The victim's blood is found on the family's pier, and suspicion falls first on an alienated wife, and then finally on the troubled Now family.
     But behind this new turmoil, Chris's death continues to plague the family. Father Sylvanus Now drowns his sorrow in a bottle, while mother Addie is facing breast cancer. And the children fight their own battles as the tension persists between Kyle and his sister, Sylvie, over her role in their brother's death.
     A cast of vivid characters surrounds the Now family, some intriguing, others comical--all masterfully crafted. As the murder mystery unfolds, other deeper secrets are revealed. Wise in the ways of the heart, The Fortunate Brother is a moving family drama from beloved storyteller Donna Morrissey.

About the author

Donna Morrissey (b. 1956) grew up in the isolated western Newfoundland community of The Beaches, where, she says, "There were twelve families and we didn't talk to six of them." She studied at Memorial University in St. John's, lived in various other parts of Canada, and makes her home in Halifax. Her first novel, Kit's Law (Penguin, 1999), the source of "Grieving Nan," won the National Booksellers Association Libris Award and garnered international praise.

Donna Morrissey's profile page


  • Winner, Thomas Head Raddall Atlantic Fiction Award
  • Winner, Arthur Ellis Award for Best Novel

Excerpt: The Fortunate Brother (by (author) Donna Morrissey)

His father  was sitting at the table by the window, drinking coffee, when he came out of the shower. Addie was laying a plate of beans and runny egg yolks before him and Kyle’s stomach curdled and he lunged for the door. Holding on to the grump, he spewed into the water, his ribs spearing through his side like knives. He looked up, seeing two men in a boat paddling offshore from the outcropping of rock and cliff that blocked his view of Hampden. Hooker’s father, Bill, and his grandfather. They were standing now, tensed, looking ashore towards the rock face. Their voices grew louder, alarmed. Bill grabbed the oars and, still standing, rowed furiously towards the cliff, vanishing behind the outcropping.
Kyle heard his mother coming to the door, calling him, but he eased himself down over the wharf onto the beach and trekked across the shoreline towards the outcropping. As much to escape her attentions as to satisfy his curiosity.

During high tide the only way around the outcropping was by boat. This morning the tide was out. He climbed across wet rock made more slippery by tide-abandoned kelp. He’d been climbing around here since he was a kid, shortcutting it to Hampden. The front of the outcropping spanned a few hundred feet of rugged rock face, a small inlet forged into its centre. Hooker’s grandfather was holding the boat steady near a clutch of rocks before the inlet. Bill was out of the boat and hunched over, looking down at something amongst the rocks, his face scrunched up as though tasting some- thing nasty. Straddling the rocks opposite Bill was Clar’s dog, whin- ing and pawing at the head of a large pool of water left over by the tide. Something greenish was floating in it.
“What’s going on?” called Kyle. No one looked at him. He came closer and then went down on one knee, his breath sticking in his throat. Clar Gillard. Half submerged. Flat on his back, arms and legs strewn out as though he were basking in sun-warmed waters. Blue jeans suctioned like skin to his legs. Greeny brown seaweed shifting with the water over his chest and bobbing around a face that was grey and frozen like clay on a winter’s morning. His mouth was stretched open, his eyes wide and emptied. Clar Gillard did not look pretty in death.

“Teeth marks on his shoulder,” said Bill. “Looks like the dog dragged him ashore.”

“His truck’s over on the wharf,” said the old man. “Was there all night.”

“He must’ve fallen overboard,” said Bill. “Drunk, I suppose.” “Don’t think he could swim,” said the old man. They both looked to Kyle as if he might know.

“He ain’t never gonna learn now,” said Kyle.

Editorial Reviews

Winner of the 2017 Arthur Ellis Awards for Excellence in Canadian Crime Writing, Best Novel
Winner of the 2017 Thomas Raddall Atlantic Fiction Award

“Donna Morrissey is one of our country’s finest writers. And this novel might very well be her most powerful to date … I can’t recommend this book highly enough.” —Joseph Boyden, author of The Orenda
“If you are ‘away’ and have never been to Newfoundland nor met the Now family, read The Fortunate Brother. You will feel you have. —Roberta Rich, author of The Midwife of Venice
“Donna Morrissey is a fine storyteller with a deep love of her people.” Kurt Palka, author of The Piano Maker

"This hauntingly beautiful novel lingers in the imagination like the sight of a storm-churned ocean, and confirms that Morrissey is one of Canada's greatest storytellers." —Vincent Lam, praising The Deception of Livvy Higgs
“[Morrissey’s] honed her craft and taken heed of some justified criticism to produce substantive, elegiac, and, in the case of her latest, suspenseful work…. Morrissey is a terrific mood-setter, something she does not via political, stylistic, or cultural references but through the expertly rendered dialogue whose rhythms and staccato ‘gawd-damns’ function as the novel’s soundtrack. The latter, along with her descriptive abilities, are Morrissey’s signal strengths and the undisputed stars of this novel.” —The Globe and Mail
“Donna Morrissey, born in Newfoundland and now living in Nova Scotia, is one of our most talented Canadian writers. She has consistently written powerful stories of Newfoundlanders struggling with the difficulties of living in an outport village, and the addiction and abuse that sometimes occurs in such isolated places. She writes beautifully about, often, very sad situations…. Ultimately The Fortunate Brother is a story of loss, grief and mourning—and hope.” —Parry Sound North Star

“Donna Morrissey is an absolute terrific original.” –David Adams Richards

“Irresistible… Masterful… The rich, rocky terrain of Newfoundland has borne a native storyteller with talent to burn in Donna Morrissey.” –Dublin Sunday Tribune

“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

“Everything is hyper-vivid in Morrissey’s world, not excluding emotions, dreams and unresolved conflicts… Morrissey reveals the beauty and the terror of two economic realities, worlds apart from us and from each other.” –Toronto Star

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