This is the House that Luke Built by Violet Browne

“Rose doesn’t know the things she will learn, that lie dormant for now, while she goes through the motions. She only knows that Luke is gone and she is longing for him already. As indelibly as if it were carved into her skin.”

When Rose’s husband Luke disappears in a storm while fishing the Grand Banks off Newfoundland, she is left to pick up the shattered pieces of her life and fill in the hole he left for her young children. Once every year, Rose returns – if only in her mind – to the house her husband never completed, where he waits for her with open arms. And every year, she finds ways to gradually reinvent herself, to become more than just a mother, just a high school drop out. Rose is a woman struggling with the hand life has dealt her: lonely widowhood and mothering traumatized young children. Yet she gradually finds the woman she wants to be and the humorous side of dating again while well past the first bloom of youth. It is also a story of the bonds of families, of parents and children, of siblings and choices. Spiralling in and out of Rose’s dreams, and back and forth through time, This Is the House That Luke Built concludes with a satisfaction that life does continue in unexpected ways.

Violet Browne’s debut novel is as sturdy and spare as the fishermen of Newfoundland, her prose as cool and deep as the seas they fish, as stark and hauntingly beautiful as the province itself. Her words draw the reader into a mesmerizing tale, literary realism leaking a ghostly fable.

She should know her subject: Browne also lost her husband to the sea, and she pours her heart and her hard-won wisdom into this book. At times raw with emotion that is blazing in its authenticity, it is also brilliant and funny. This is so much more than merely a story; it is a truth Browne has lived, a dissertation on the ebb and flow of grief. She leads us on the journey from its raw beginning to reinventing oneself after a loss, to learning to really live again, and not without warmth and hope and a generous dose of humour.


Violet Browne is a writer from Placentia Bay, NL, who now lives in St. John’s. She holds an MA in creative writing from Memorial University and works for the Registered Nurses’ Union of Newfoundland and Labrador. This Is the House That Luke Built, Browne’s first novel, is based on her own experiences after losing her husband at sea.

  • Publisher ‏ : ‎ Goose Lane Editions (Feb. 7 2023)
  • Language ‏ : ‎ English
  • Paperback ‏ : ‎ 224 pages
  • ISBN-10 ‏ : ‎ 1773102834
  • ISBN-13 ‏ : ‎ 978-1773102832

Heather McBriarty is an author, lecturer and Medical Radiation Technologist based in Saint John, NB. Her love of reading and books began early in life, as did her love of writing, but it was the discovery of old family correspondence that led to her first non-fiction book, Somewhere in Flanders: Letters from the Front, and a passion for the First World War. She has delivered lectures to the Royal Nova Scotia Historical Society, NB Genealogy Society, and Western Front Association (Central Ontario Branch), among others, on the war. Heather’s first novel of the “Great War”, Amid the Splintered Trees, was launched in November 2021.

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