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Kit's Law [Paperback]

Donna Morrissey
5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)

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Book Description

19 April 2001
In a wild gully beside a village on the rocky shores of Newfoundland lives 14-year old Kit. Her grandmother Lizzie is her anchor and her solace. Kit's mother Josie, mentally disabled, inarticulate, and child-like, is their burden. Kit's father is unknown - one of the numerous men in the town who have sexually used and abused Josie. Kit, stigmatized as the Gully Tramp's Girl, can fend off the town's cruel snobs and oily do-gooders, as long as Lizzie is alive. But when Lizzie dies suddenly, Kit's fragile world is shaken. She is determined to remain at home to care for Josie, but she has few allies - the villagers want to put Josie in an institution and send Kit to an orphanage. And there is another menace in Haire's Hollow - the violent rapist and killer known as Shine. It is he who sets in motion the train of events that lead to tragedy.


Product details

  • Paperback: 400 pages
  • Publisher: Sceptre; New edition edition (19 April 2001)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0340769122
  • ISBN-13: 978-0340769126
  • Product Dimensions: 19.2 x 13 x 2.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 810,453 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Review

Donna Morrissey has created in KIT'S LAW an extraordinary trinity of women . . . Comparisons to Annie Proulx are inevitable, but KIT's LAW exists in the valley of its own saying, and in the directness of its tone, establishes its own authority (Thomas Keneally)

'Donna Morrissey has created in KIT'S LAW an extraordinary trinity of women, and charted for our vast entertainment their piquant and heroic adjustments in relation to those who have power in Newfoundland's Haire's Hollow - men such as the starchy Reverend Ropson, his son Sid, the local doctor, and the murdering, raping jailbird Shine. Comparisons to Annie Proulx are inevitable, but KIT's LAW exists in the valley of its own saying, and in the directness of its tone, establishes its own authority' Thomas Keneally

'Donna Morrissey's novel, Kit's Law, lures you in with a soft, poetic beginning, then wrenches you into the harsh realities of life for 14-year old Kit Pitman, who lives in an isolated Newfoundland outport. Morrissey understands the music of the language here and captures everything from the soft sonorous undertone of the sea to the shrill high notes of the self-righteous citizens who make life difficult for a young girl trying to come to grips with a complex identity. The novel carries a potent emotional impact that stays with you long after you walk away from the story. It doesn't read like a writer's first novel. It sounds as if Morrissey has been honing her craft for decades. Kit's Law is a wonderful addition to the great canon of Newfoundland literature."' Lesley Choyce, author of World Enough and Nova Scotia: Shaped by the Sea

A stunning debut novel from a very talented writer (The Telegram, St. John's, Newfoundland)

KIT'S LAW offers the reader all the old-fashioned virtues: a vivid sense of place, larger than life characters, an intricate and suspenseful plot and a feisty heroine whom we can't help rooting for on every page. Donna Morrissey has written a terrific novel (Margot Livesey)

'Kit's Law has those timeless, mythic qualities you find in Hardy. Donna Morrissey takes the old and makes it new in a miraculous way. As do all good novels.' Eric McCormack, author of the Governor General-nominated First Blast of the Trumpet

An incredible debut novel that reaches the pit of the stomach with an authentic tone and a cast of character that fall into the category of unforgettable (Sunday Business Post)

'....a lively narrative with an unquestionable sense of authenticity...' Toronto Star

'Sleeper hit of the season...a work of strong rhythms and pungent flavours, plus an old-fashioned gothic-melodrama plot...Wally Lamb in a sou'wester...Morrissey gives us a strong setting and a strong novel...' Globe and Mail

Powerful descriptions...vividly imagined (The Independent on Sunday)

'. . . debut novel by Morrissey simply stunning. The strength of Morrissey's novel lies in the true voices of her characters, the strong story line, and the vitality of the setting and

the people. Kit's law is a stunning debut novel from a very talented writer' The Telegram, St. John's, Newfoundland



Set in a remote Newfoundland village in the 1950s, this beautiful first novel balances raunchy folk humor, riveting suspense, and family tragedy with a young girl's profound first love...With a poet's attention to sound, Morrissey combines wonderful, rich characters and compelling family intrigue with a powerful, almost meditative sense of place. Startling, vivid, and expertly crafted, this novel introduces an exciting writer whose career needs to be followed closely. (Booklist)

'The novel establishes its setting - 1950's outport Newfoundland - ...quickly, credibly, and with poetic language...' 'There are echoes of Thomas Hardy here, the clash between fate and free will, and rampant coincidence' W.P. Kinsella, Quill & Quire

Suffused with a wonder for the natural world like Thomas Hardy's, and the tart forthrightness of Marilynne Robinson, this atmospheric coming-of-age story marks the promising debut of Canadian scriptwriter Morrissey...Kit is a fresh, delicately nuanced first-person narrator, who almost imperceptibly blossoms from a wary, joyless preadolescent into a "full-blooded" woman, falling disastrously in love with Sidney. Like her beloved grandmother, Kit is valiant and impulsive, but most fetching is her voice whether describing Josie's "smell of rotting dogberries" or the big Newfoundland skies which Morrissey captures with thrilling verve and precision. (Publisher's Weekly)

Kit is a heroine whom we immediately warm to . . . KIT'S LAW is a charmer. (Kirkus Reviews)

'This novel feels like it comes from a different time...a place where the anonymous, fast-paced 20th century with its innovations and renovations has little influence. Morrissey as represented that timelessness with a novel that reminds us of older stories in which the haracters are easy to identify as heroine, or villain, or victim. Stories in which personal tragedy is not an embellished coincidence on a TV talk show, but a life-shattering, momentous event. Stories in which relationships can be passionate, and secretive and stormy. Her style may not be to everyone's taste, but it's provocative, and it makes for a helluva good read' The Daily News, Halifax

'....enough happens in the first hundred pages of Kit's Law to sustain novels three times as long. So much for the sleepy outport. And urbanite readers may find their cherished ideas about village life challenged. ....a fast-paced charmer of a yarn' The Coast, Halifax

Debut novelist Morrissey has narrative skills to die for and uses language that's direct, sure and salty (RTE Guide)

'Morrissey [is] a born storyteller...soon readers will be thanking her for writing one of the strongest debuts to come out of the Atlantic region in some time. Set in Newfoundland in

1950's, Kit's Law is a unique coming of age story; emotionally tense and unravelled at the frantic pace of a crime thriller' Daily News, Halifax, Nova Scotia



'This accomplished first novel deserves wider attention. The plot rollicks along at a captivating pace and twists so quickly I forgot to try and predict the outcome . . . Vividly imagined' Kate Figes, Independent on Sunday

'Suffused with a wonder for the natural world like Thomas Hardy's, and the tart forthrightness of Marilynne Robinson, this atmospheric coming-of-age story marks the promising debut of Canadian scriptwriter Morrissey. It's Newfoundland in the 1950s, but it feels like 1850 in Haire's Hollow, a tiny, remote outpost community. There, 12-year-old Kit Pitman lives in a gully shack with feisty grandmother Lizzy and mentally retarded mother Josie, an often drunk near-vagrant scorned by townsfolk as "the gully tramp." Lizzy tigerishly protects her girls, but when she suddenly dies, local women join forces with the vitriolic Reverend Ropson in a campaign to ship Kit and Josie away. Defended by kindly Doctor Hodgins, Kit and Josie are allowed to remain in the gully shack with frequent visits from babysitters and spies, most notably the minister's teenage son, Sidney. But they are never safe, as a psychopathic murderer named Shine roams Haire's Hollow, and Josie persists in meeting him. Some of Morrissey's secondary characters (like the minister and the doctor) are hackneyed and predictable, but Kit is a fresh, delicately nuanced first-person narrator, who almost imperceptibly blossoms from a wary, joyless preadolescent into a "full-blooded" woman, falling disastrously in love with Sidney. Like her beloved grandmother, Kit is valiant and impulsive, but most fetching is her voice whether describing Josie's "smell of rotting dogberries" or the big Newfoundland skies which Morrissey captures with thrilling verve and precision.' Publisher's Weekly

'Set in a remote Newfoundland village in the 1950s, this beautiful first novel balances raunchy folk humor, riveting suspense, and family tragedy with a young girl's profound first love. Fourteen-year-old Kit Pitman lives in a weather-beaten coastal cottage with her mentally disabled mother, Josie, and her fiercely protective grandmother, Nan--a "shadow big enough to blot out all of Haire's Hollow." Both childlike and sexually promiscuous, Josie scandalizes the villagers, but Nan holds the family together until her abrupt death. When a group of locals tries to place Kit into foster care, she fights to keep her beloved gully-side home; with few friends, she cherishes quiet and isolation. Household help comes from her ailing aunt and from the reverend's son, Sid, with whom Kit falls deeply in love as the plot accelerates to a thriller's pace. Kit and Sid's ultimately doomed affair is unraveled first by a violent act of self-defense and then by impossible family secrets. With a poet's attention to sound, Morrissey combines wonderful, rich characters and compelling family intrigue with a powerful, almost meditative sense of place. Startling, vivid, and expertly crafted, this novel introduces an exciting writer whose career needs to be followed closely.' Booklist

Book Description

A stunning debut novel with a vivid Newfoundland setting, raw, unforgettable characters and a powerful story.

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Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
By A Customer
Format:Paperback
This is a marvellous book, similiar in places to Annie Proulx and so much better than many other books that are hyped and pushed down our throats. Wonderfully, gripping and humane it is the story of a girl who must care for her wayward and simple mother when she is hardly old enough to care for herself.
Although gentle in style the story propels forward to what you fear will be an inevitable conclusion but Donna Morrissey has plenty of surprises in store, not all of which are unpleasant.
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5.0 out of 5 stars New to Me.......Donna Morissey 19 Nov 2011
Format:Hardcover
Donna Morissey is a new writer to me. In, "Kit's Law,"She writes about the lives of a family in Newfoundland and like any other family they have their problems. Morrissey pulls no punches and what you read, emotionally, is what you get.

I lived in Eastern Canada for two years and never made it to Newfoundland but I knew that life there could be tough and at times, I found Morrissey's writing brutally honest but she could also bring me to tears as I felt Kit's pain and the way life treated her and her Mother.

Morrissey was born in Newfoundland; so she knows the life she is writing about.

She is so talented as a writer; the storyline is like the waves of the Atlantic......it lifts you up as it roars up the beach......then the waves draw back, softly dragging the shingle and gently putting you down.

For a first novel it is brilliantly written and I feel quite confident that her second novel, "Downhill Chance," will win a new band of reading fans.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Amazon.com: 4.3 out of 5 stars  16 reviews
12 of 14 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Not Enough Story 28 Aug 2001
By A Customer - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
I hate to be the lone dissenting voice here, but... I'm sorry, I just did not think it was that great. Donna Morrissey writes well. Her descriptions, such as those of the desolate coastal village, are lovely, and the dialect her characters speak in is charming, but those things alone do not make a good novel. There is just not enough happening here. The Shine murder is the only real plot, and there are only fifty pages or so covering his stalking of Kit and Josie, the murder, and the trial. I don't necessarily require complex plotlines to enjoy a book, but if you're going to have this little going on, you need to have well developed characters to carry it along. Most of Morrisey's characters are too one dimensional, either all good (Sid, Loret, and the doctor) or all bad (the Reverend and his wife) and lack believability. Lizzy and Josie are more interesting, but Lizzy is killed off after fifty pages, and with the exception of a few scenes, Josie is mainly reduced to running around and irritating everyone else with her childishness and promiscuity. Kit is the only character that develops much, but she is rather overshadowed by the larger than life secondary characters. The "shocking" relevation about Sid just made me roll my eyes and wonder how many VC Andrews novels the author read before beginning her book. It was at that point that I pretty much just skimmed the rest of the book. I do think that this author has promise, and I'd probably give another novel from her a chance. Now to move on to my next read and duck the hate mail and "unhelpful" reviewer votes that will surely be coming my way! :-)
5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Liked it? - Yes, Loved It ? - Sorry, No. 18 Mar 2002
By J. Fercho - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
While I ultimately enjoyed reading this book, I...had difficulty with the "one-dimentionalness" of many of the characters. To portray so many of them as all good or all bad only adds to their sterotypical nature (the "evil" moonshiner, the doctor with a heart of gold) It was unfortunate that the character of Lizzy died off so early in the novel as she appeared to be more complex than many. Our main character Kit is interesting and sympathtic, her mother I'm sorry to say was just plain annoying, whatever her mental handicaps. I'm afraid to say the "revelation" of Kit's paternity was no surprise at all...don't skewer me for what seems like a lot of criticisms. There are many wonderful aspects about this book, and I look forward to reading another novel by Donna Morressey.
4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Kit's Law took me home 18 Sep 2001
By Melanie Walker - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
I recently completed Kit's Law, and, like many who have read the book, once I started I could not stop. I am a 23-year-old Newfoundlander living in Ottawa. I have always been very proud to be a Newfoundlander, and have always know that being a Newfoundlander meant that I was part of something special. I have always had a great appreciation and interest in the rich culture and heritage of my province. However, this interest deepened when I moved away from the province in June of 2000 after graduating from MUN. Ms. Morrisey's book helped to bring me back to the small outport I grew up in through the wonderful story of Kit's braveness, and the strong development of characters in the story who were comparable to those I remember from back home. I felt connected to Kit somehow, although I am not sure how exactly. Most likely it was through Ms. Morrisey's amazing writing style which made the book such a charming piece of work to read. I am anxiously awaiting Ms. Morrisey's next book. I recommend Kit's Law to anyone looking for an amazing and well-written story.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Riveting 20 Jun 2001
By Brendan Jude - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
I have just come from listening to Donna Morrissey read from her acclaimed novel "Kit's Law" and all I can tell you is that she was riveting. Without a doubt the finest author I have heard read from his/her work, Morrissey demands to be heard; she's funny, intelligent, persuasive, but most of all she seems genuinely enthralled at being able to present her work in front of others. If she's in town for a signing, be sure to go to hear her read from her novel. I can't wait until she comes back to Massachusetts.
3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Great Read, but ... 3 Aug 2001
By A Customer - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
This is a great story, with many compelling characters and such a riveting storyline that you cannot put it down until you've finished it. Unfortunately however, if it had not come so highly recommneded I never would have made it throught he first 50 or so pages, which I found confusing, cluttered and dense reading. Once I got beyond that however, the novel seemed to settle down and focus -- and then I couldn't wait to see what was going to happen next in the Hollow, or how Kit would come to terms with her mother, her "first love" or Doc, to name just a few. Tears will be shed if you stick with it! Also, I can't decide (and my wife and I are still discussing/disagreeing) on whether the last two pages of the novel should be torn out. They almost seem an "add on" or, unlike the rest of the story, not completed integrated with the complexities of Kit's life. Maybe I just LIKE to left wondering? In any event, make no mistake, this IS a GREAT read! With the passage of time, this became a 5 star book!
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