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The Corrigan Women

The Corrigan Women

M.T. Dohaney has been described as Newfoundland's answer to Frank McCourt. Her first novel, The Corrigan Women, a richly textured portrayal of outport life, is a contemporary classic. Long out-of-print, this first novel in the trilogy that ends with the critically acclaimed A Fit Month for Dying, is now available once again.

This intense family drama opens in pre-Confederation Newfoundland, on the eve of the First World War. Fifteen-year-old Bertha Ryan leaves home to work as the hired girl in the troubled Corrigan household in a larger village, called the Cove. There, she is browbeaten by her employer and raped by the deranged son. Pregnant and terrified, Bertha marries her assailant's brother, with whom she is in love. But the war intervenes, and when her husband returns, he is shell-shocked and nothing is the same.

Bertha's daughter Carmel fares no better. During the Second World War, she marries a charming, handsome American soldier stationed at the nearby base and later she discovers that he is already married. The weight of the accumulated shame eventually falls upon Carmel's daughter Tessie, who reaches adulthood caught in the crossfire between the ways of the Cove and the world beyond Newfoundland.

With characteristic wit and compassion, Dohaney depicts a trio of resilient women who face life with dignity, courage and irrepressible humour. When The Corrigan Women first appeared in 1988, readers kept asking M.T. Dohaney, "Well, what happened? Did Bertha keep visiting the grave?" Dohaney would reply, "I don't know. The Corrigan Women is fiction." "But she must have told you." "No, Bertha is fictional, and that was 1918, long before my time." And so it went, until the immediacy of The Corrigan Women and the characters that would not stay on the page drove Dohaney to write two more Corrigan Women novels in this highly acclaimed now popular trilogy.


M.T. (Jean) Dohaney was born in the small village of Point Verde, Placentia Bay, Newfoundland. She moved to Fredericton in 1954, where she completed her BA in English at the University of New Brunswick. She holds both a MA and PhD in literature from the University of Maine and Boston University, respectively. In 1988, she released her first book, The Corrigan Women, which was followed by To Scatter Stones in 1992, A Marriage of Masks in 1996 and A Fit Month for Dying in 2000.

"In its rich and sometimes violent emotional texture, The Corrigan Women belongs in a class with such works as Alistair MacLeod's Lost Salt Gift of Blood." — New Maritimes

"A study in independence and fortitude ... successful in illuminating the inner lives of burdened women." — Books in Canada

"[Dohaney] will stitch this tale upon your heart." — Halifax Daily News

"If Dohaney never writes another novel, she can rest assured that her first has been worthwhile ... a convincing account of life in any Newfoundland cove." — Globe and Mail

"A tightly woven, sympathetically written story ... an excellent first novel." — Newfoundland Sunday Herald

240 pages
Pub date: August 19, 2004