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Portrait Photo - Eric Fefferman

Winners and Losers

Winners and Losers (Tales of Life, Law, Love and Loss) is a collection of linked short stories that turns a dazzling searchlight on the inner workings of the legal profession, told from the viewpoint of a feisty narrator finding her way through a hostile and competitive law environment.

By the end of Winners and Losers, the reader will have undergone a sprawling journey through a lifetime in practice, where the pit-bull litigator is tenderized through the clients, the work, the failure of her own marriage, by single mothering. Because the protagonist doesn’t judge, because she lays out the evidence in her search for the truth in a circling, coyote-like fashion, the reader lives that tracking inquiry along with her.

Winners and Losers does for the legal profession what Vincent Lam did for the medical world in Bloodletting & Miraculous Cures. Madott’s stories pose the big questions about life, recognize the ceiling price to truth, taste the bitterness of loss and damaged faith in the justice system – all systems being artifice and betrayal for those who care too much. What emerges from the flame of these stories is an unforgettable portrait of a woman of resilience, strength and integrity, who surrenders herself, not to the law, but to the people she serves and loves.

Spring 2023. To order: Guernica Editions, Chapters and Amazon.

“Darlene Madott writes stories for grown-ups: astute, piercing, and elegant. The professional life of Francesca, a successful yet reluctant lawyer, is the thread that links the stories in Winners and Losers. But Madott gives us much more than a look behind-the-scenes; she explores loss, humiliation, deception, and betrayal, as well as accomplishment, triumph, and the intensity of mother-love. Legal concepts evolve into metaphors that illuminate unexpected connections and new depths of meaning. So many of these subtle shifts left me breathless in admiration. These short stories reminded me of why I love the genre. They need to be read and reread.”

Caterina Edwards, author of Finding Rosa and The Sicilian Wife.

Winners and Losers, published by Guernica Editions was selected as one of 10 Best Canadian Short Story Collections by The Miramichi Reader. Thank you to all my editors and special thanks to my readers. Click here to learn more.

Review by Jocelyn Reekie:

“In her latest collection of linked short stories, Winners and Losers, Darlene Maddott shifts the point of view between first person and limited third person, and time between present and past, past and future, future and present, to tell the story of Francesca Malotti—a single mother of one son; a Canadian lawyer who practices Law for more than three decades; and a friend, adversary, companion, wife, and divorcee whose personal intelligence, ignorance, failures, successes, strengths and weaknesses are mirrored in the messiness that is Law as it is practiced in Canada...”

The Author Reads from Winners and Losers.

“What often made her advocacy successful in Court was not that she was more learned than her “learned friend,” but that she believed in what she advocated – in this case, the importance of a parent’s presence in the daily life of a child, a presence that is all that stands between any child and the darkness.”


“The first time she held Marco in her arms, three days after his birth, she looked into his face, the light in his eyes. He gave her a sudden smile, as if to say, “All will be well, Momma, don’t worry.””

“This collection is Darlene Madott’s voice at its richest and wisest. The genesis of the material is her life at the bar. Family litigation is about good people doing bad things, not always intentionally and not even always with knowledge. Madott has toiled, clear-eyed and observant, in the vineyards of matrimonial discontent for several decades. Captains of industry, widows and orphans, the naïve and the scoundrelly – she has been their champion, and she has seen the darkest places of the heart. These stories explore those dark places and the transformative power of adversity, for good and bad. They are also about the pull of blood, the sinew of old love, and about courage and healing. For those who labour at the law, there will be many “I have been there” moments. For those who don’t, this collection gives a front row seat onto the field of battle.

Wailan Low, Superior Court Judge, Ontario

“There are lessons here, about what matters and what lasts, but they are not tacked on at the end of the story, they emerge slowly and arrive as our own discoveries about what it means to be human, in this time, in this place.

George Amabile, Award-Winning Poet

“Each story chimes with a grace note. Never has the genre of legal drama weaved gender, culture, heritage, despair and the mysteries of the soul. Great insight and just beautiful writing.”

Jerry Ciccoritti, Film Director "The Many Trials of One Jane Doe"

“I loved Darlene Madott’s passion and insight. Only someone who has spent a lifetime in the legal trenches could write stories and characters so original and compelling.”

Bernard Zukerman, Producer of CBC’s reboot of Street Legal
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