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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)
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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
...more
Dark-Draco
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
Gphatty
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
Keira
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.
Heather
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.
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Shonna Froebel
Sep 07, 2016 Shonna Froebel rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: canadian, fiction
Another good Newfoundland story
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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
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