The Son of A Certain Woman

The Son of A Certain Woman

A Novel

Book - 2013
Average Rating:
Rate this:
Percy Joyce, born in St. John's, Newfoundland, in the fifties is an outsider from childhood, set apart by a congenital disfigurement. Taunted and bullied, he is also isolated by his intelligence and wit, and his unique circumstances: an unbaptized boy raised by a single mother in a fiercely Catholic society. Soon on the cusp of teenagehood, Percy is filled with yearning, wild with hormones, and longing for what he can't have--wanting to be let in...and let out. At the top of his wish list is his disturbingly alluring mother, Penelope, whose sex appeal fairly leaps off the page. Every man in St. John's lusts after her, including her sister-in-law Medina, her paying border, Pops MacDougall, with whom she carries on an affair of convenience--and Percy.
Publisher: Toronto : Alfred A. Knopf Canada, 2013.
ISBN: 9780345807892
Branch Call Number: FIC Johns
Characteristics: 435 pages ; 24 cm.


From the critics

Community Activity


Add a Comment

Feb 20, 2016

What the Catholic Church might deem a unholy quartet, this family certainly is dysfunctional. I know he's a teenage boy but the sexual fantasy gets a bit much.

Jun 03, 2015

Not the book I expected. All these people are run by the church. One's a bi-whore who, after the end of the book will probably commit incest. Her lover is illiterate and her living in boarder is manipulated to marry her for money she'll get, but continuing her, as they say, Lizzy ways. If this was suppose to be a comedy, well he missed the mark. And the end is just... well read and see...

According to Baltimore Catechism once a soul is baptized ALL sins are washed away from before the time of baptism so Johnston has that wrong, the big confession scene would never happen. Otherwise the book is well written but puerile, with an orgasmic ending that could only happen in a teenage boy's wet dream.

Jun 07, 2014

A superb bit of writing;
I cried and then laughed till I cried.
A powerful, funny and moving novel.

May 15, 2014

WJ has laid out a criticism of the Roman Catholic church in a novel full of off beat characters. I laughed a lot but in the end felt let down with, what I felt, was a weak ending.

LMOH Apr 19, 2014

Very funny!

Mar 22, 2014

I returned this book before completing 100 pages--what a disappointment from such a fine author.

brianreynolds Oct 22, 2013

In The Son of a Certain Woman, Wayne Johnston takes the reader back to a fear-filled time (and place) when the Catholic Church wielded close to absolute power over its adherents, when deviation from sexual "norms" was a criminal offence. Set in the St. John's of the mid-twentieth century, Son recounts the struggle of a poor, self-educated, single mother against the clergy and the awkward adolescence of her only son in a society that represses him at every turn. It's a marvellously entertaining, entirely intriguing piece of writing from the opening pages up to (but not including) the farcical ending. With elements of both romance (Penelope is as heroic a figure as any western gunslinger in her battle with the church) and comedy (poor Percy's battle to bed or befriend or be normal is as poignant and clumsy as any young man's) the story is saved from amazingness only by an absurd ending that deflates any semblance that the contentious issues under discussion might be serious. The writing is delicious. I still recommend it.

Oct 20, 2013

I enjoyed this book way more than I thought I would, considering the theme. It was downright laugh out loud funny in spots. There was plenty of unrequited adolescent hormonal action, justified by the protagonist's disfigurement. It has a strange but logical conclusion, if one supports the idea of personal triumph over religious power. Wayne Johnson is a wonderful writer and this choice of theme is courageous.

Age Suitability

Add Age Suitability

There are no age suitabilities for this title yet.


Add a Summary

There are no summaries for this title yet.


Add Notices

There are no notices for this title yet.


Add a Quote

There are no quotes for this title yet.

Explore Further

Browse by Call Number

Subject Headings


Find it at OPL

To Top