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The Blackwater Lightship

3.85  ·  Rating details ·  4,403 Ratings  ·  407 Reviews
A deeply resonant story about three generations of an estranged family reuniting to mourn an untimely death. It is the early 1990s, and Helen O’Doherty, her mother Lily, and her grandmother Dora, have come together in a crumbling old house along Ireland’s coastal southeast to tend Helen’s adored brother Declan, who is dying of AIDS. With two of Declan’s friends, the six of ...more
Paperback, 280 pages
Published August 3rd 2001 by Emblem Editions (first published 1999)
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It's the story of an Irish family that is as fractured as it could possibly be, brought reluctantly together by the tragedy of a son/brother dying of Aids. Heartbreaking and devastating, and it will leave you drained at the end.

4.5 stars for what may be Toibin's best novel.
Γιώργος Κατσούλας
Τι γίνεται όταν ο Μπεργκμαν συναντά Τον Τσέχωφ?Δράμα μεγατόνων.Μονάχα αυτοί οι μακροσυρτοι μονόλογοι να έλειπαν και θα μιλούσαμε για ένα λιτό αριστούργημα που δημιουργεί μια αποπνικτική ατμόσφαιρα με ελάχιστες μεταφορές και παρομοιώσεις
Jul 12, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
Declan, approaching 30, is dying of AIDS in Southern Ireland. His father had died young too, of cancer. He wants to see that part of the coast he remembers as a child when he and his sister Helen stayed with their grandparents, throughout their father's prolonged final illness at hospital in Dublin. It is in these waters that the Blackwater Lightship once shone, a secondary source of light alongside the more powerful Tusker lighthouse.

His mettlesome granny, Dora, now widowed, is host in her remo
Jul 11, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: owned
Μυθιστόρημα εσωτερικού χώρου, που διαπραγματεύεται τις διαπροσωπικές σχέσεις 3 γυναικών, κόρης - μητέρας - γιαγιάς, της Ελεν, της Λιλι και της κυρίας Ντεβερο κατά σειρά.
Οι γυναίκες αυτές καλούνται να συνυπάρξουν στον ίδιο χώρο και να διαχειριστούν τις συγκρούσεις τους για χάρη του αδερφού (- γιου- εγγονού), Ντεκλαν, που πεθαίνει από Aids.
Με πρώτη ανάγνωση φαίνεται αρκετά επιφανειακό. Ολοκληρώνοντάς το, νόμιζα πως χρειαζόταν να ειπωθεί κάτι ακόμα, πως οι διαλυμένες σχέσεις που παρουσιάζον
There are three contemporary authors writing in English whom I find extraordinarily engaging: Cormac McCarthy, Tim Winton and Colm Tóibín . They are all stylistically brilliant and all three weave worlds that address significant issues regarding the human condition. All, also, have received significant recognition for the quality of their production. Among that recognition, McCarthy by Pulitzer; Winton and Tóibín , by Man Booker.

Cormac McCarthy’s writing is probably the more unconventional. He i
Barry Pierce
In The Story of the Night, Colm Tóibín told the stories of men living with AIDS in New York in the late 80s. In The Blackwater Lightship, he transposes this storyline to Ireland in the late 90s, a vastly different setting. Helen, a school principal, discovers that her brother Declan is in hospital with AIDS. She has to work out how to tell their mother and grandmother about his diagnoses which he's apparently had "for years". Published just six years after Ireland's decision to decriminalise hom ...more
Oct 22, 2017 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Όταν διάβασα μια κριτική για το «Καραβοφάναρο στο μαύρο νερό» αισθάνθηκα πως το βιβλίο αυτό θα γινόταν από τα αγαπημένα μου για το 2017. Περιέργως το έπιασα με πολύ θετικότητα – κάτι που το δεν το κάνω συχνά – και στην αρχή ήμουν πολύ ενθουσιασμένη, η εισαγωγή στην ιστορία ήταν ελκυστική. Όσο όμως περνούσε η ώρα και οι σελίδες που άφηνα πίσω μου πλήθαιναν αισθανόμουν πως κάτι έλειπε από την ανάγνωση και είχα αρχίσει να γίνομαι πιο νευρική. Όταν πέρασα την μέση του μυθιστορήματος αντιλήφθηκα πως ...more
An understated account of how a broken family begins to heal itself in the context of the return of a son dying of AIDS.

Helen, a teacher in the Dublin area, helps install her beloved brother Declan into the care of her mother and grandmother in a seashore village in southeastern Ireland. The occasion makes her deal with the nearly decade-long estrangement dating from the time when her father got cancer and her mother effectively took him away from her and her brother during his months of illnes
Sep 16, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
In 1993, homosexuality was decriminalized in Ireland; and it is also important to note that at this time, the world was in the midst of the AIDS epidemic. This is the backdrop against which The Blackwater Lightship by Colm Toibin takes place.

It was the end of another school year and Helen, a school principal in Dublin, was looking forward to a holiday with her husband and two young children. That holiday, however, would have to wait. Paul, a longtime friend of Helen's brother Declan, arrived on
Baxevanidou Faye
Το Καραβοφάναρο στο μαύρο νερό λοιπόν Αυτό το βιβλίο με συγκλόνισε και τείνει να γίνει ένα από τα αγαπημένα μου για το 2017 αν όχι το αγαπημένο μου Από πού να ξεκινήσω την κριτική μου δεν ξέρω...... Σίγουρα είναι το καλύτερο του Colm Toibin από αυτά που έχω διαβάσει ως τώρα με δυνατούς γυναικείους χαρακτήρες όπως πάντα Σίγουρα με συγκλόνισε και μάλιστα με έπιασε απροετοίμαστη Δεν ήμουν περίμενα να διαβάσω κάτι τόσο δυνατό Προσοχή όταν λέω δυνατό μην περιμένετε κάτι με δράση Όλη η ιστορία εξελίσσ ...more
Άλλο ένα πολύ καλό και ποιοτικό βιβλίο, αισθητικά και σε περιεχόμενο, από τις εκδόσεις Gutenberg στην εξαιρετική σειρά Aldina. Γραμμένο το 1999, το "Καραβοφάναρο στο Μαύρο Νερό" είναι ένα βιβλίο για τις οικογενειακές σχέσεις, τις διαφορετικές γενιές (γιαγιά-μητέρα-κόρη) και την αντίδρασή τους καθώς και το δέσιμό τους σε μια δύσκολη κατάσταση. Ένα μυθιστόρημα "δωματίου" όπως επισημαίνει και η μεταφράστρια, καθώς εκτυλίσσεται σχεδόν εξ ολοκλήρου στην κουζίνα της γιαγιάς Ντόρα Ντέβερο, μα δεν είναι ...more
Jun 19, 2012 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: fans of low-scale family drama and tragedy
Recommended to Wealhtheow by: Dana DesJardins
Helen lives a predictable, pleasant life, until suddenly a stranger turns up and tells her that her brother is sick--is, in fact, dying of AIDS in a nearby hospital. Declan wants to stay in their grandmother's cottage while he recuperates from his latest hospital stay. His sister, mother, and grandmother are thus thrown together in a small sea-shore cottage, forced into close quarters after a decade of estrangement. Two of his friends come to keep him company and look after his health, causing f ...more
Nov 02, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: re-ir
In the house by a cliff of the southern coast of Ireland, a reluctant family comes together around a brother, son and grandson, who is dying of aids. The three women - sister, mother and grandmother find out about Declan's preference and his illness all at once and try to deal with the facts each in her own way. But the closet seems to be filled with many other skeletons besides Declan's homosexuality. There are memories of the past, the relationships and unresolved conflicts between the three w ...more
Mar 17, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
3.5 stars

Helen is a school principal living in Dublin. She is married with two children. She is preparing to go on Holiday with her family in the beginning of the book. Then she learns that her brother Declan has suffered from AIDS for years without telling her. Declan asks her if she would tell their Mother and Grandmother his diagnosis. Helen, who has been estranged from her Mother and Grandmother for years is put in a position to contact the women but to also deal with past issues especially
<- my cover

Description: It is Ireland in the early 1990s. Helen, her mother Lily, and her grandmother Dora have come together, after a decade of estrangement, to tend to Helen's beloved brother, Declan, who is dying of AIDS. Under the crumbling roof of Dora's old house, Declan's two friends join the women as each waits for the end. The six of them, from different generations and with different beliefs, are forced to plumb the shoals of their own histories and to come to terms with each other
Betsy McTiernan
May 13, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
After Brooklyn and Testament of Mary, Toibin is at the top of my list of feminist writers. This novel focuses on a family and friends brought together by impending death. Helen's brother, Declan, is dying of Aids. He decides he wants to spend a few days at his maternal grandmother's house with Helen, his mother and a couple of friends. Helen has been estranged from her mother and grandmother for over a decade, and Declan had never come out to his family. This big secret bursts out of the closet, ...more
Apr 06, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is is a clear- eyed, beautiful book. Toibin never tries too hard. His characters reveal themselves in conversation that is pitch perfect. The difficult parts of living and dying are not side stepped, but there is humor too because this is about family and all the messiness that entails.
Eirini Proikaki
To Καραβοφάναρο(ωραία λέξη αυτή) είναι ένα μυθιστόρημα που μιλάει για τις οικογενειακές σχέσεις.Ο επερχόμενος θάνατος απο AIDS του αδερφού της Ντέκλαν ,φέρνει κοντά την Έλεν,την μητέρα της και την γιαγιά της και επιδρα καταλυτικά στη σχέση τους.Οι τρεις γυναίκες έχουν αποξενωθεί και η Έλεν έχει τυπικές σχέσεις με την γιαγιά της και έχει να μιλήσει 10 χρόνια με τη μητέρα της.Τώρα που αναγκαστικά πρέπει να συνυπάρξουν στον ίδιο χώρο,δεν μπορούν να αποφύγουν να αντιμετωπίσουν το παρελθόν τους,να κο ...more
Colm Tóibín never writes an easy story to read & there always seems to be some small element that reaches in & speaks directly to me.

Helen is a mom & a wife & a teacher, seems to have a loving marriage. Her husband & 2 sons head out for the start of a vacation & Helen is looking forward to some alone time....a visitor arrives & things change. We see a week or so in the lives of Helen, her mom, her grandmother, her brother & a few other people. In that week we act
Oct 07, 2009 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: gay-lit
This beautiful novel chronicles a week in the lives of its characters as they try to comfort their mutual connection, Declan, a man in his late 20s dying of AIDS and running out of time to see long-standing conflicts be put aside between his sister, mother and grandmother, all of whom are estranged from one other for over a decade because of reasons even they cannot quite articulate or understand. Aided by two friends who've been looking after him long before his family suspected anything was wr ...more
Apr 17, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction, in-en, 2017
Early '90s. Declan is dying and Tóibín masterfully brings together the women in his life (sister, mother, grandmother), forces them to cope with him being gay and having AIDS, throws in a couple of best friends and delivers an absolutely amazing story of hardship, friendship and loss.

I love this guy to the moon and back.
Jan 27, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: own-copy
It is very difficult to find fault with a book like this. The writing is beautiful, being elegant, restrained, sparse and poetic all at once. In fact Colm Toibin says more in one of his perfectly formed precise sentences, than most other authors can say in whole paragraphs.

This is the story of a family that has grown apart over the years, and that is reluctantly brought back together again by a single event. Is not a new premise for a novel, but in Colm’s writing a fresh light is shone on it and
Jim Fonseca
Oct 05, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A young man in Ireland is dying of AIDS and he wants to spend his last days in his grandmother's seaside house where he has fond childhood memories. His gay friends visit and more-or-less live-in while they care for him. His female family members hover over the dying man as well: mother, sister and grandmother. The relatives all have "issues" with each other and the main character's illness serves to bring the interrelations among the three women to the fore. This story is told mainly by the sis ...more
Not a good idea to finish the last 20 pages of this story at 5:00 AM before work! I'm wrecked and I look like hell. The novel was wondrous - I loved it and I'll review later.
Oct 20, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: read-in-2015
3,5 rounded up to 4
Caidyn (BW Book Reviews; he/him/his)
I don’t have any fancy quotes for this, no real insights. All I can say that this was a very rough book for me to read. It was depressing, and if it was any longer, I probably wouldn’t have been able to read it in one sitting like I did. This book was made to be a one-sitting read. So subtle, so quiet. It wasn’t until halfway through I realized that I had to finish this book today, no matter what it did to my emotions.

Ireland, to me, is not a conservative country. Then again, I know it’s Catholi
Dec 31, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
The Black water Lightship is a story about there always being more than two sides to any story, yours and the other persons.

Helen and Declan's Father died when they were young. During his illness they stayed with their Granny and Grandad, were unaware their father was dying or why specifically they were there. Experience comes down to ones perception of any given situation and without meaningful dialogue or clear boundaries to gain understanding, position is taken and can be intractable from al
Ellie M
Oct 16, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2016-grc, 2016
Another Colm Toibin book I've really enjoyed reading. He writes so well, and it's so easy to slip into the world of the characters of the novel.

The setting is early 1990s Ireland and the majority of the novel is set on the coast, in the house of Dora, mother to Lily and grandmother to Helen and Declan. Declan is unwell, seriously so, and wants to spend time at his grandmother's house with his family and close friends around him. It becomes clear that the relationship between the children, Helen
Jun 05, 2010 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I can't say i liked this book. I felt irritated with the women. I thought some of the most interesting characters made their appearance at the beginning at a party and never came back.

As a study of mother-daughter relations over generations it seemed over simplistic.

I felt outside of all the characters especially Declin, woh was pivotal to the reunion.

The beginning captured me, then I felt let down. Maybe I am missing something.
Always Pink
Aug 27, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
An early Toibin – masterfully handeled difficult subject. I bought it on a whim because of its beautiful cover (old faults die hard), so did not know at all what awaited me. Am very grateful to have ordered it so spontaneously, as it would have been unforgiveable to have missed out on this novel by a favourite author, which deservedly made it unto the Booker Shortlist of 1999. Toibin very memorably tells of a time when to be diagnosed with AIDS was a death sentence and how a family then may have ...more
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Colm Toibin was born in Enniscorthy, Co. Wexford in 1955. He studied at University College Dublin and lived in Barcelona between 1975 and 1978. Out of his experience in Barcelona be produced two books, the novel ‘The South’ (shortlisted for the Whitbread First Novel Award and winner of the Irish Times/ Aer Lingus First Fiction Award) and ‘Homage to Barcelona’, both published in 1990. When he retur ...more
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“Imaginings and resonances and pain and small longings and prejudices. They mean nothing against the resolute hardness of the sea. They meant less than the marl and the mud and the dry clay of the cliff that were eaten away by the weather, washed away by the sea. It was not just that they would fade: they hardly existed, they did not matter, they would have no impact on this cold dawn, this deserted remote seascape where the water shone in the early light and shocked her with its sullen beauty. It might have been better, she felt, if there had never been people, if this turning of the world, and the glistening sea, and the morning breeze happened without witnesses, without anyone feeling, or remembering, or dying, or trying to love. She stood at the edge of the cliff until the sun came out from behind the black rainclouds,” 5 likes
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