The Deception of Livvy Higgs
“If there’s one thing life has taught me,” muses 80-year-old Livvy Higgs to herself as she catches her neighbour, Gen, sneaking through her bushes looking for a ‘lost’ hockey puck, “it’s how to spot lies.”
Although Livvy may be adept at spotting lies, she has spent her entire adult life trying to figure out the truth concealed by them. The truth about her mother’s incongruous emigration to a small French-speaking fishing village on the coast of Newfoundland, the truth behind her parents seemingly loveless yet interminable marriage, and her father’s inexplicable alliance with her maternal grandmother when clearly neither can stand the other. With flashes back to the 1940s and the help of Gen in the present day, Livvy begins to piece together the secrets of the past and finally lay her burdens down. Donna Morrissey, herself raised in The Beaches, a small fishing outport in Newfoundland, brings local knowledge and colour to her descriptions of Livvy’s life. The unique expressions and cadence of the language spoken and the tensions which existed between the English, the Irish and the French inhabitants of this remote area as well as its raw geographical beauty immerse the reader in Livvy’s childhood world.
Morrissey is also adept at evoking the atmosphere of her adopted home, Halifax, Nova Scotia, with some of her best passages describing the city in the midst of World War II when it became an important jumping off point for troops and navel convoys heading across the Atlantic. She paints a vivid picture of not only those who went to fight but also those who stayed behind to maintain supplies lines and security inspections for those who went to fight. And what happened when it all came to a screeching halt in 1945, suddenly leaving a small Canadian city with a restless population the size of Detroit.