Newfoundland Books

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Newfoundland Books

aug 18, 2009, 10:53 am

This is a thread for listing and discussing books with a Newfoundland setting.

aug 18, 2009, 10:08 pm

A few months ago I really enjoyed The Shipping News. I haven't counted it though because I'm hoping to read something written by a Newfoundlander.

aug 18, 2009, 10:54 pm

Ooh! I recommend Rare Birds for a good laugh.

Redigeret: aug 21, 2009, 1:08 pm

#2 Don't know if I'd recommend it, but Colony of Unrequited Dreams was written by Newfoundlander Wayne Johnston - although I don't think he lives there anymore. He has written other stuff, too, but CUD was set on Newfoundland.

edit - the book's not as awful as I made it sound - just big and not to my usual taste.

Redigeret: aug 25, 2009, 3:15 pm

#4 sjmccreary, I loved Colony of Unrequited Dreams!
(hmmm, I haven't joined here yet... but am tempted!)

Edited to get rid of unrequired dreams. Note to self: do not post on LT at 7 am without coffee in veins.

aug 25, 2009, 4:10 pm

I had a dream about my dentist last night, who is a very creepy individual. It was clearly an unrequired dream.

And now back to Newfoundland...

aug 25, 2009, 4:27 pm

LOL. Right, back to getting kids dressed...

aug 25, 2009, 9:57 pm

RWG, if he's creepy, I hope it was an unrequited dream!

sep 18, 2009, 1:29 pm

One Newfoundland book I recall reading is one about Gander, Newfoundland on 9/11 and the spirit of the people as they rallied to take care of all the people who unexpectedly found themselves there, that day.

It is: The Day the World Came to Town: 9/11 in Gander, Newfoundland by Jim DeFede.

sep 26, 2009, 7:36 pm

Since I'm reading it right now, I'd better add Barnacle Love by Anthony de Sa to this list.

sep 27, 2009, 6:09 pm

#9 - I'd love to read that - I will have to look for it somewhere.

My cleaning Lady swears by the book Death on the Ice which takes place in Newfoundland. I'll have to figure out how to add a touchstone here.


sep 27, 2009, 6:10 pm

Cool - THAT was easy!

Redigeret: dec 2, 2009, 4:49 pm

Can anyone comment or recommend any of the following that I have short-listed: February by Lisa Lynne Moore, 'Bishop's Road' (no touchstone) by Catherine Safer, The Big why by Michael Winter, The Ryans by Wayne Johnston, Absent by Sherri Vanderveen or any by Donna Morrissey? They all sound good but I'd appreciate any opinions.

edited to correct typo

dec 2, 2009, 9:53 pm

I have a lot of Morrissey on my shelves, but have not read any of it yet -- so I'd appreciate any opinions also!

jan 11, 2010, 8:22 pm

One of the 'hot reviews' today (by member avaland) is for a book set in Newfoundland - Galore by Michael Crummey. Sounds interesting.

feb 20, 2010, 9:45 am

My daughter just finished a young-adult book set in Newfoundland: The Nine Live of Travis Keating by Jill Maclean. This is on the 2010 Ontario Library Association's Silver Birch nominees list.

feb 21, 2010, 12:11 pm

#15 - I love Michael Crummey's other stuff (particularly River Thieves) but I really didn't like Galore. I found it really confusing and well, boring to be perfectly frank. I seem to be in the minority though so take that with a grain of salt.

jun 2, 2010, 10:52 am

The Boat that Wouldn't Float by Farley Mowat is apparently also set in Newfoundland. I was lucky enough to be gifted with a copy in a box of Canadian books, so will put it on my Canadian TBR pile :)

jun 2, 2010, 8:59 pm

If you like mysteries the following are set in Newfoundland:

Thomas Rendell Curran
• Eric Stride: police inspector with the Newfoundland Constabulary, in late 1940s St. John’s, Newfoundland, before confederation with Canada
Titles: Undertow and The Rossiter File

Nick Wilkshire, Foreign Affairs and Sleeper

Gordon Inglis, Death and breakfast


The Divine Ryans by Wayne Johnston, a funny tale about a funeral home in St. John's

jun 2, 2010, 11:29 pm

Thanks pmMarshall!! :)

jun 7, 2010, 8:52 pm

Come, Thou Tortoise by Jessica Grant is set in Newfoundland. This book is on the Ontario Library Association's 2010 Evergreen list.

jun 8, 2010, 4:26 am

I thought of a couple of more Nfld. books. If you like Agatha Christie you should enjoy these biographies by Anne Hart The Life and Times of Miss Jane Marple and The Life & Times of Hercule Poirot. Hart was a librarian at Memorial University in St. John's and loved Christie's work. I don't think they are in print anymore but you can buy them at

Two other good Nfld. books areA winter's tale : the wreck of the Florizel and Death on the Ice by Cassie Brown.

Redigeret: jun 19, 2010, 3:10 pm

In Sask, starting to go through a box of books I had to leave behind last time I visited family due to lack of space (Forgot I owned Mercy among the Children!

Another Newfoundland book I found at garage sales last year: The Outport People by Claire Mowat (Farley's wife) a fictional memoir (not sure how that works!) of their life in an isolated town in Newfoundland (No roads, cars or telephones). Sounds interesting!

jun 19, 2010, 12:57 pm

The Outport People sounds interesting. And now you have added one to MY wishlist Bcteagirl! It's supposed to work the other way around....

BTW, your bookmooch books arrived yesterday. Thanks for the speedy delivery!

jun 19, 2010, 3:09 pm

Glad to hear it. :) One wishlist addition deserves another heheh ;) Will keep my eyes out for a second copy for you :)

jun 19, 2010, 11:08 pm

> 23 Mercy among the Children takes place in New Brunswick and is by a NB author, David Adams Richards. I couldn't tell from your post if you thought it was a Newfoundland book.

jun 20, 2010, 12:40 am

No, I do realize it is in NB.. I think it is only my second NB book, so was thrilled to find that I did indeed own it :) A hardcover-exlibrary, so I must have purchased it at a library sale here last summer. But thanks Marshall, if I was off I would want to know :)

Redigeret: jul 29, 2010, 1:12 pm

February is another book set in Newfoundland.. it deals with grief and apparently does a good job of describing Newfoundland as well.

Since there has been some discussion of youth/teen/preteen books set in the various provinces I thought when I ran across them I would mention them.
Tales From Cooks Cove One For Sorrow is a young adult book set in Newfoundland.

Latitudes of Meltis one I have recently added to my wishlist.

jul 29, 2010, 10:58 am

I just remembered a book I read years go set in Witless Bay Newfoundland called The bird artist. It has a lot of interesting characters in it and was a little quirky but good to read.

jul 29, 2010, 12:51 pm

I was in Witless Bay a few weeks ago and went on a superb boat trip - birdwatching and whale-spotting - a brilliant day. I must keep an eye out for The Bird Artist, though I did pick up his The Haunting of L. recently and haven't gotten around to that one yet.

Redigeret: sep 5, 2010, 3:02 pm

I'm mid-way through Come, Thou Tortoise by Jessica Grant, which is priceless. Quirky, eccentric, engaging characters and lots of word play. First book I've read since childhood where a tortoise was among the characters. A bit more character driven than plot driven, but very sweet and humourous. Recommended!!

{set in St. John's, NF}

sep 5, 2010, 8:08 pm

Sounds lovely. I've placed a hold on it at the local library. Thanks for the tip starfishian.

sep 5, 2010, 9:13 pm

I had been wondering whether or not I would like this book, your review makes me think perhaps I would! :)

sep 5, 2010, 9:22 pm

I just finished February by Lisa Moore, and loved it. It's set in Newfoundland and centres around the sinking of the Ocean Ranger in 1982.

sep 11, 2010, 6:12 pm

One link I am finding useful is Redisland, they list and sometimes do a quick review or synopsis of books set in Newfoundland.. both new and old books.The books on the top of the page are older books right now, but if you scroll down there is a 2003 title as well. So a great site to pick up on some older Newfoundland books you may not have found otherwise. This may even be a link someone here gave me recently, I couldn't remember where I got it from, so am posting it here :P

nov 3, 2010, 2:48 pm

I just finished the wonderful Annabel, by Kathleen Winter. The first 300 pages are set in the Labrador part of Newfoundland and Labrador, and the last 160 pages are set mostly in St. John's.

nov 3, 2010, 6:44 pm

I really enjoyed Annabel too. Glad you like it too. I wonder if it will win any awards... not too long now for the Giller Prize.

nov 3, 2010, 9:23 pm

I hope it wins!
You can play the Guess the Giller contest here, and you might win a Kindle.

I guessed Annabel, as I also really enjoyed the book :)

nov 19, 2010, 10:33 pm

I grabbed a new to me Newfoundland book of bookmooch a little while ago, and it arrived today. The Wreckage by Micheal Crummey. Full description at link, here is a bit of it:

"Having achieved considerable success with his first novel, River Thieves, Michael Crummey has written a book that is equally stunning and compelling. The Wreckage is a truly epic, yet twisted, romance that unfolds over decades and continents. It engages readers on the austere shores of Newfoundland’s fishing villages and drags them across to Japanese POW camps during some of the worst events of the Second World War. Haunting, lyrical, and deeply intimate, Crummey’s language fully exposes his characters’ vulnerabilities as they struggle to come to terms with their guilt and regret over decisions made during their impulsive youths.

In the fishing villages of Newfoundland we come across an itinerant Wish Furey. He’s a drifter and a projectionist, traveling from island to island bringing films to isolated communities. A Catholic in a staunchly Protestant community, working with an alcoholic, gambling partner, Wish is immediately labeled an outsider. On Little Fogo Island, he spots a desirable young woman in the audience and embarks on an unwavering mission to possess her."

nov 21, 2010, 10:48 am

I really liked The Wreckage by Crummey (and River Thieves for that matter) but hated Galore. I was excited when it came out because I enjoyed his other stuff so much but it was a huge struggle to finish that one.

jan 6, 2011, 3:55 pm

I usually don't dis books from my hometown but Latitudes of Melt was a huge disappointment to me. I think it was because the author jumped around, and I wasn't getting what I wanted. Perhaps you will have a different experience, and i'd love to hear how it went.

jan 6, 2011, 4:06 pm

I haven't seen anyone list Donovan's Station yet.. by Robin McGrath

also.. in non-fiction if you have an interest in "The Old Hag" - a dream that makes you think you are awake but you are frozen and unable to move - then you might like The Terror That Comes in the Night by David J Hufford.

and for those interested the fairy traditions you might like Strange Terrain: the fairy world in Newfoundland by Barbara Rieti

If I think of any others i'll post them.

jan 6, 2011, 4:08 pm

Thanks for the new books and the review of Latitudes of Melt arrwa! This will be great for people looking to find different Newfoundland books :)

jan 6, 2011, 8:52 pm

If you are looking for a funny Newfoundland book about funeral parlors try Wayne Johnston's The Divine Ryans.

jan 7, 2011, 9:14 am

>42 arrwa: I read (and reviewed) Donovan's Station. I enjoyed it very much. It opened up a view of Newfoundland pioneers that I hadn't experienced before. The setting was well done - an elderly woman being cared for by young members of the family and reflecting on her life. I have often thought of it since.

jan 9, 2011, 3:55 pm

Echoes Over Water, by Stephen Cline, is a novel set partially in Newfoundland in both modern and early European contact periods. Based on Celtic sailing legends. See for reviews and description.

feb 3, 2011, 6:43 pm

I thought of another one: Random Passage by Bernice Morgan. It is a historical novel set in the 1800's about a family coming to Newfoundland and the struggles and joys that they dealt with.

feb 3, 2011, 7:19 pm

#47 - I recently found a copy of Random Passage. I'd been looking for it for over a year. Someone somewhere here at LT raved about it. I'll report back after I've read it.

feb 6, 2011, 1:18 am

I don't think Gaff Topsails by Patrick Kavanagh has been mentioned. Brings the landscape to life.

feb 25, 2011, 2:38 pm

I just finished February by Lisa Moore, and loved it. It's set in Newfoundland and centres around the sinking of the Ocean Ranger in 1982.

I just finished February too. I found it achingly beautiful, but not depressing. Highly recommended, unless you're the sort of reader who requires a strong plot.

mar 23, 2012, 9:02 am

I just discovered this group the other day and find it an interesting challenge. I have already joined several other LT groups.

Last month, serendipitously I read February by Lisa Moore as part of the 12 12 Challenge.

I like what >50 Nickelini: nickelini says: it was 'achingly beautiful'

My review can be found here:

mar 23, 2012, 9:15 am

And, I just also realized that I am in the middle of Come, Thou Tortoise by Jessica Grant. This book is being discussed at my local library book club. I do not belong to the club but thought it looked interesting so decided to check it out. Loving it. I will post a review when I am done.

feb 3, 2014, 9:31 pm

Someone at the start mentioned they weren't sure if Wayne Johnston still lived in Nfld or not.

I was his youngest sister's roommate for a few years in the mid-90s. Yes, he grew up in Nfld, but has lived in Ontario for a very long time. His earlier books were mostly humour and my favourite of his funny ones was:
The Story of Bobby O'Malley

That was his first novel and it remained my favourite by him until I later read:
The Navigator of New York.

I guess Navigator isn't set (for very long) in Nfld, from what I'm remembering, so it may not be one to pick for this, but The Story of Bobby O'Malley is set there. It was fun! (Of course, I had some extra insight, as Stephanie was able to fill me in on the stuff that really happened to various members of her family that made it into the book!)

feb 4, 2014, 1:40 am

I would add Eiriksdottir by Joan Clark, and would suggest Death on the Ice Cassie Brown as mentioned in #11.

jun 12, 2014, 10:39 pm

I liked Latitudes of Melt as it reminded me of people I met when I was stationed at Argentia in the U.S. Navy in the 1960's.

Redigeret: mar 1, 2017, 11:28 pm

February / Lisa Moore
2.5 stars

In 1982, an oil rig sank off the coast of Newfoundland. This book follows Helen, now a young widow, as her husband, Cal, had been working on the oil rig. Helen is left to care for four children.

It wasn’t a boring story, but the book flipped all over the place in time, mostly between 2008 and other years, looking back. Each section did introduce the year, but it was really all over the place, I thought. I didn’t care about characters, and I didn’t believe the outcome of John’s (John is one of Helen’s children, an adult in 2008) storyline. Also, what is wrong with using quotation marks?

mar 2, 2017, 11:28 am

Ah, quotation marks. They do seem to be a line many refuse to cross! I'll admit that I don't think I even noticed when I read February, which I liked more than you did. I still need to get to Wayne Johnston.

mar 2, 2017, 7:14 pm

>57 RidgewayGirl: It seems that most people liked February more than I did! I hope you enjoy Wayne when you get to him!

mar 2, 2017, 8:05 pm

I found February depressing and difficult to like. An example of the stereotypical 'Canadian Literature'

mar 2, 2017, 10:43 pm

>59 raidergirl3: I have to admit that I'm not as much "into" "literary" stuff, either, and is seems like that's how a lot of Canadian authors write.

mar 2, 2017, 11:09 pm

I see how you used quotation marks there. Nicely played, lol.

mar 3, 2017, 8:29 pm

>60 LibraryCin: hahaha! That wasn't even on purpose! Well, it was, just not for that reason!

maj 22, 2017, 5:26 pm

Tsunami: The Newfoundland Tidal Wave Disaster / Maura Hanrahan
4 stars

In 1929, Newfoundland was still its own country; it wouldn’t join Canada for another 20 years. In November of that year, under the ocean closeby, there was an earthquake, followed shortly after by a tsunami that hit the small island nation – three successive waves that hit the shores of the Burin Peninsula the worst. Many small fishing communities in that area lost food and fuel that was meant to get them through the upcoming winter, they lost homes, livelihoods, and 27 people’s lives, many women and children. The following day, as communication lines were still down, a blizzard hit the area.

The author describes people and families as they feel the tremor, wonder what’s happened, then relax when it ends... then, as the waves first arrive. Later, she follows one nurse, Nurse Dorothy Cherry, as she travels (with two local men to accompany her) through the blizzard between the small communities to offer help. Later, the word finally gets out to a wider world, and more help arrives in the form of clothes, building supplies, food, coal.

This is a disaster I hadn’t known about. This book is mostly facts, but the author does add in dialogue and even invents some background for some key people when she couldn’t find out enough. There is a note at the end of the book to explain this. Very interesting and heartbreaking, in some cases.

okt 10, 2017, 12:14 am

A World Elsewhere / Wayne Johnston
3 stars

Landish Druken is from Newfoundland and, while attending Princeton, meets George Vanderluyden. They have a falling out, but years later, Vanderluyden has since built a mansion, is married, and has a daughter. He takes in Landish and the boy Landish has taken in, Deacon.

I have to admit to being quite distracted as I read the first 2/3 of the book, so I know I missed some things. For the first 1/3 of the book, I kept reading Landish’s last name as “Drunken”. Oops! It got better (though still wasn’t terribly exciting) for the last 1/3 of the book, when I was able to better focus on it. There were a few twists at the end.

I actually smiled at the dedication and the acknowledgments: I knew his parents and it was dedicated “in loving memory” of them. I was a good friend of his youngest sister so have met some of her siblings, as well (all mentioned in the acknowledgments), though I’ve never met Wayne. Of course, that’s just a personal reaction to those parts of the book that really don’t have to do with the book itself!

apr 23, 2018, 9:50 pm

Where I Belong: Small Town to Great Big Sea / Alan Doyle
5 stars

Alan Doyle grew up to become lead singer of Great Big Sea. He grew up in a small town, just outside St. John’s, Newfoundland with 3 siblings and a very musical family; in fact, they were known as “The Doyles from Petty Harbour” and everyone knew they were musical. The book is told as a series of stories, and include stories of his family and friends, music, religion (Catholic vs. Protestant), fishing, and more.

I listened to the audio, read by Alan himself. I loved it! The accent and the phrases, and he’s so funny! I laughed out loud many times (people on transit probably stealing odd glances toward me?)! Oh, what a great storyteller! Listening to the audio, he actually played a recording of a brief conversation with his mom, and when there were lyrics in the text of the book, he sang them. Sigh…

I had a roommate/best friend in my 20s who was from Newfoundland (in fact, from The Goulds, near Petty Harbour, where Alan went to high school) – the accent and phrases and funny stories all made me think of her. He’s only a few years older than me and my friend, so I recognized many things/places that she talked about, as well. Oh, I even remember her mentioning the high school band he was in – I think she showed me a yearbook photo of them with the FA on the drums (for First Attempt).

I really don’t think people would need the personal (or in my case, secondary) references to enjoy this, though. I highly recommend the audio!

jul 7, 2019, 5:04 pm

The Day the World Came to Town: 9/11 in Gander, Newfoundland / Jim DeFede
4.25 stars

Gander, Newfoundland has about 10,000 people. It was once a hub for airliners to stop to refuel, so it has lots of space for large aircraft. On 9/11, when the terrorists took down the Twin Towers in New York, air space in all of the United States was closed. Flights already in the air were ordered to land as soon as possible. 38 planes chose to, or were ordered to, land in Gander, adding 7,000 people in to the community who ended up staying for a few days before being able to get back on flights to continue on (or go back).

When Gander declared a state of emergency, people were housed at schools, churches, and anywhere else that had room, while flight crews took over all the hotel rooms. The people in Gander donated hours of their time, items from their homes, food, and places to stay for some of the stranded passengers. Friendships (and maybe even at least one romance) were formed.

The book was published in 2002, about a year after the events of the day. Some of the people the book followed included: a husband and wife returning from Kazakhstan with a little girl they’d just adopted; there was the parents of a missing firefighter in New York; there was royalty; there was a couple of higher-up people in well-known companies; there were a few Jewish people, in a town where most of the people had never met a Jewish person before, and more. I hadn’t thought about the animals that were on those planes, in the cargo hold!

I’m Canadian. I grew up in a small town, and can see people reacting as the people of Gander did, doing everything they could do to help. 9/11 itself is an emotional topic, though I have no close personal connections to New York. This was emotional, it made me feel proud to be Canadian, to read about everything the people in Gander had done.

I listened to the audio book, so I missed out on some photos that were included in the book. Overall, a really good (and emotional) account of what some of the people who were flying that day went through when they landed in a small isolated town in Eastern Canada.

nov 1, 2019, 12:31 pm

The Innocents by Michael Crummey

Two children are left orphans at the agest of 9 and 11 in a remote cove on the northern coast of Newfoundland some time in the 1800s. The only contact they have with the outside world is the twice yearly visit of a ship that brings provisions in the spring and takes away their harvest of salted cod in the fall and leaves some provisions. The sister and brother are determined to stay in their cove to be near the bodies of their infant sister and mother and father but it is a hard task for ones so young. They have no book learning but they are quite smart and figure out most things they need to do to survive. The elements and sickness are two things they can't do anything about and those things do take their toll. They are also struggling with the usual hormonal urges and their feelings for each other.

I thought this book was excellent.

Redigeret: nov 1, 2019, 9:43 pm

>67 gypsysmom: That sounds really good! I think it's going to be a BB for me!

mar 6, 2020, 9:49 pm

Small Game Hunting at the Local Coward Gun Club by Megan Gail Coles

One of the contenders in CBC's Canada Reads 2020. It is a very tough read; in fact I am sure it could be triggering for anyone who has experienced abuse and violence. Nevertheless I think it is an important book for people to read to see how women end up in those types of relationships.

mar 7, 2020, 12:36 am

>69 gypsysmom: Good enough for me. I'm adding it to the tbr! (From the description after it was chosen for Canada Reads, I thought I would, anyway, but good to see a review.)

sep 25, 2022, 3:25 pm

The Innocents / Michael Crummey
2 stars

When Ada and Evered’s parent both die, they are still young. It’s the 19th century and they live in an isolated area in Newfoundland. They do what they can to survive.

I listened to the audio. It was slow-moving and I couldn’t get interested, though the Newfoundland accents and phrases are fun. I missed much of what happened in the book, but I didn’t really care, either. I’m not sure how old the kids were when their parents died and not sure how old they were at the end of the book, either. It was a bit ugly as they became teenagers with no one else around, though. When I saw this book was nominated for a few awards, that explained it for me (my not liking it).

dec 16, 2022, 3:54 pm

All Together Now / Alan Doyle
4.25 stars

Alan Doyle, lead singer of Great Big Sea, was missing performing when COVID hit. In the summer of 2020, he wrote some stories, as if he’s in a pub telling friends, and published it in this book.

I listened to the audio read by him, and I think that’s the way this story should be “read”. He is telling the stories as if he’s in a pub, and one of them, in particular (my favourite) – I just don’t see how it would translate on paper. It was the story of “dying laughing” and I was! The way he tells it – with his own laughter (fake laughter, but he does it so well...) – is just incredible and the laughter is so infectious! Other stories focused on Newfoundland itself, as well as some of his travels with GBS and the other famous people they met. It’s fun to hear how starstruck a star themselves can be sometimes. One of the stories just didn’t interest me much, but the rest were really good, so 4 stars, overall, for the book, but the extra ¼ star (as I do) for an amazing audio book.

dec 16, 2022, 6:50 pm

>72 LibraryCin: That sounds like fun

dec 16, 2022, 9:13 pm

>73 Nickelini: He's written three books now, and I've listened to two of them. (Where I Belong was 5 stars for me.) I really wanted to listen to his other book, as well, but my library doesn't have it, unfortunately. I did pick up the print in a little free library and will have to read it that way.

apr 15, 2023, 4:01 pm

The Son of a Certain Woman / Wayne Johnston
3 stars

Percy was born with FSS (Famous Someone Syndrome), where his hands, feet, and lips are all oversized; he also has an extremely large wine-red/purple “stain” on his face. He lives in St. John’s, Nfld with his beautiful single mom and her boarder, who also teaches at Percy’s school. A frequent visitor to their house is his mom’s friend, Medina. He also realizes there will never be a girl/woman who will love him or have sex with him; he figures his only hope is his mother. The story follows Percy from about 5 years old to 15.

Ok, as distasteful as that is, the story itself wasn’t bad. Initially, it reminded me of John Irving. It was pretty slow, though. It did pick up for me as I continued on, so I temporarily thought I might rate is just a bit higher, until something at the end of the book brought my rating back down to “ok”. It was apparently set in the 1950s and 60s, but I don’t recall if that was explicitly stated in the book. There was some humour and plenty of criticism of the Catholic Church.