In this powerful debut novel from one of the most gifted storytellers to emerge from Canada since Carol Shields, we find “all the old-fashioned virtues: a vivid sense of place, an intricate and suspenseful plot, and a feisty heroine whom we can’t help rooting for on every page” (Margot Livesey). Kit Pitman is fourteen and lives in a ramshackle cottage on the outer banks of Newfoundland, where isolation is all she knows. The only visitors are fogbound fishermen and an occasional young man brought ashore to keep the bloodlines clean. But Kit’s isolation is compounded by the mystery that surrounds her family and her illegitimate birth. Her mother, Josie, is mentally retarded and often runs wild among the clapboard houses that dot the shore. Meanwhile, her grandmother Lizzie staunchly guards them both from the disapproving glances pious townsfolk cast their way. But when Lizzie dies suddenly, Kit and her childlike mother are left vulnerable to life’s harsh realities and to unexpected dangers that repeatedly threaten to break them apart. A wrenching story ensues, as Morrissey depicts with exceptional grace the way the lines between mother and daughter in this unlikely relationship, although blurred, are deeply felt. KIT'S LAW is a novel of extraordinary, almost mythical power and marks the debut of an enormous new talent.
About the Author
Donna Morrissey was born in The Beaches, a small village on the northwest coast of Newfoundland that had neither roads nor electricity until the 1960s a place not unlike Haire’s Hollow, which she depicts in Kit’s Law. When she was sixteen, Morrissey left The Beaches and struck out across Canada, working odd jobs from bartending to cooking in oil rig camps to processing fish in fish plants. She went on to earn a degree in social work at Memorial University in St. Johns. It was not until she was in her late thirties that Morrissey began writing short stories, at the urging of a friend, a Jungian analyst, who insisted she was a writer. Eventually she adapted her first two stories into screenplays, which both went on to win the Atlantic Film Festival Award; one aired recently on CBC. Kit’s Law is Morrissey’s first novel, the winner of the Canadian Booksellers Association First-Time Author of the Year Award and shortlisted for many prizes, including the Atlantic Fiction Award and the Chapters/Books in Canada First Novel Award. Morrissey lives in Halifax, Nova Scotia.
It was a bright, sunny day, and cold clear up to the sun. And the sea was blue-black against the white of the snow. Closing one eye, I peered down over the gully through the largest piece of yellow. It tinted golden the wings of the seagulls gliding over the sea, but for the first time that I could remember, I took no heart from my childish game, and flicked the pieces of glass back into the box.
Around lunchtime, I heard Josie get out of bed, her step slow, heavy, its quickness buried along with Nan. Worried that she might go into Haire’s Hollow again, I jumped out of bed and ran to the kitchen window. She was ploughing her way through the snow down into the gully. I watched her for a minute, her body heaving from side to side like a wearied old woman whose thoughts were so burdened that likely the snow was hardening and turning to ice beneath her feet. Pulling my coat on over Nan’s nightdress and shoving my feet into a pair of rubber boots, I followed her.
Copyright © 1999 by Donna Morrissey
"Kit is a heroine whom we immediately warm to . . . KIT'S LAW is a charmer." (Starred review)
"Startling, vivid, and expertly crafted, this novel introduces an exciting writer whose career needs to be followed closely." Booklist, ALA, Starred Review
"A Dickensian brawl of a novel . . . never a dull moment! The reader is willingly swept along in the tide." St. Louis Post-Dispatch