Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “Gaff Topsails” as Want to Read:
Gaff Topsails
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

Gaff Topsails

3.64  ·  Rating Details ·  45 Ratings  ·  9 Reviews
It is June 24, 1948 -- the Feast of St. John the Baptist, the Bringer of Light, is being commemorated with bonfires ignited on the headlands. Father MacMurrough, newly arrived and desperately lonely, reflects on a failed love affair. Michael Barron, a young mute, falls in love and is puzzled by the way that his life -- like the tremendous iceberg he and his friends explore ...more
Paperback, 464 pages
Published March 1st 1999 by Penguin Books (first published April 1st 1998)
More Details... edit details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about Gaff Topsails, please sign up.

Be the first to ask a question about Gaff Topsails

Anne of Green Gables by L.M. MontgomeryThe Shipping News by Annie ProulxThe Blind Assassin by Margaret AtwoodAlias Grace by Margaret AtwoodLife of Pi by Yann Martel
Oh, Canada!
772 books — 314 voters
The Shipping News by Annie ProulxThe Colony of Unrequited Dreams by Wayne JohnstonAnnabel by Kathleen WinterRandom Passage by Bernice MorganKit's Law by Donna Morrissey
Newfoundland Reads
153 books — 48 voters

More lists with this book...

Community Reviews

(showing 1-30)
filter  |  sort: default (?)  |  Rating Details
James Murphy
May 13, 2010 James Murphy rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I think this is an incredible novel. Patrick Kavanagh is something of a Joycean, at least enough of one to have helped translate Ulysses into Mandarin. If James Joyce had written a novel about Newfoundland, this could've been what it looked like. Kavanagh has taken one day--as in Ulysses--and threaded his many characters through it. It's 24 June 1948, the Feast of the Nativity of John the Baptist. It's also Sweetheart's Day, a local fete, the longest day of the year and 1st day of summer (we're ...more
Paula Dembeck
Jun 02, 2016 Paula Dembeck rated it liked it
This book is set in a small Irish Catholic fishing village on the coast of Newfoundland during a single day -- June 24, 1948. It is the day that celebrates the feast of John the Baptist and during this day, the author traces the life and thoughts of a small group of people who live in the village.

Father MacMurrough is a lonely priest, a restless middle aged man who has recently arrived on the island. He has come from the New Guinea missions and although he hoped to be posted to China, he has be
Aug 29, 2013 Dark-Draco rated it liked it
If you liked 'The Shipping News' by Annie Proulx, then you'll enjoy this. The whole story takes place on Midsummers day, 1948, in a small village in Newfoundland. The villagers wake to find an iceberg stranded in the bay and their stories all come to life aginst its backdrop. There's the priest, a newcomer not sure that he likes his new life, or life at all. Michael, mute and a dreamer, climbing the iceberg and falling in love. Mad Jonny the Light, a hero and yet dispised by the town. Hestia, th ...more
Aug 03, 2009 Gphatty rated it it was amazing
Wonderful, heady, thoughtful book. Full of rich prose and a genuine love of language that just doesn't exist in most novels these days. I could have sworn it was a novel from the early 1900's, but instead, I now believe that Kavanagh truly paid attention to the stories of people who grew up during that time. He has the nuances down; the colloquialsisms; the pervading ties to Christianity. I feel like I'm back in my mother's Ireland, listening by the fireside to the old folks tell tales, and not ...more
Aug 29, 2013 Keira rated it liked it
I think three and a half stars would be appropriate. It took me a while to get used to the shifting perspectives, but once I did, the story took off. It has a definite sense of place and time - I haven't read Joyce, so I can't comment on the similarities, but every character has a very distinct voice of their own & you really get to know the history that shapes them and the desires that pull them.
Esther Marie
Dec 23, 2010 Esther Marie rated it it was ok
Shelves: 2010
If James Joyce and John McGahern had a very strange child, that child would be Patrick Kavanagh, The Novelist. This book is simply odd. Kavanagh has too much love for naturalistic imagery to go completely crazy and Joycean, and so "Gaff Topsails" is schizophrenic, and yet basically very boring.
Jul 11, 2012 Heather rated it liked it
Kavanagh is attempting to paint a big picture of outport Newfoundland, in a similar vein to Michael Crummey with Galore, but is not as powerful. However, he did it first, and thus he should be commended. Overall, an interesting story.
Chantal rated it liked it
Jun 30, 2014
Elizabeth Young
Elizabeth Young rated it really liked it
Jan 30, 2011
Heather Simons
Heather Simons rated it liked it
Jul 13, 2008
Trent rated it it was amazing
Sep 22, 2012
Bob Lefebvre
Bob Lefebvre rated it liked it
Sep 22, 2016
Shonna Froebel
Sep 07, 2016 Shonna Froebel rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: canadian, fiction
Another good Newfoundland story
Les. rated it liked it
May 09, 2009
Andrew rated it it was amazing
Oct 06, 2009
Deirdre rated it liked it
Aug 12, 2013
Matthew McCarthy
Matthew McCarthy rated it it was ok
Jun 16, 2015
Mitch McGowan
Mitch McGowan rated it liked it
Jun 15, 2012
Sherry rated it it was amazing
Feb 28, 2013
Sasha Danielle
Sasha Danielle rated it it was amazing
Nov 28, 2014
Troycarlson rated it it was amazing
Jan 17, 2013
Lisa rated it it was amazing
May 15, 2011
John rated it liked it
Aug 14, 2012
Rebeccah rated it liked it
Jun 26, 2012
Cormorant Books
Cormorant Books rated it it was amazing
Apr 17, 2015
Bill Schafer
Bill Schafer rated it liked it
Apr 15, 2014
Chris rated it really liked it
Dec 29, 2012
Robert rated it liked it
Apr 28, 2008
Ashlyn P
Ashlyn P rated it really liked it
Jul 27, 2016
Emily Cait
Emily Cait rated it liked it
May 29, 2012
« previous 1 next »
There are no discussion topics on this book yet. Be the first to start one »
Patrick Kavanagh was an Irish poet and novelist. Regarded as one of the foremost poets of the 20th century, his best known works include the novel Tarry Flynn and the poems "On Raglan Road" and "The Great Hunger". He is known for accounts of Irish life through reference to the everyday and commonplace.

When the Irish Times compiled a list of favourite Irish poems in 2000, ten of his poems were in t
More about Patrick Kavanagh...

Share This Book

No trivia or quizzes yet. Add some now »