Emily's Reviews > The Blackwater Lightship

The Blackwater Lightship by Colm Tóibín
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's review
Jun 05, 2012

liked it
bookshelves: ireland, literary-fiction
Recommended to Emily by: Liz

Tóibín is one of my favorite writers, but I'm not particularly enamored with him as a novelist. The Blackwater Lightship is beautifully written and portrays family dynamics in a realistic, interesting way, but the book didn't make a lasting impression.

The center of the story is Declan, who is in the final stages of his battle with AIDS. He chooses to convalesce at his grandmother's house by the sea, bringing together his grandmother, mother, sister, and two gay friends. Everyone at the house loves Declan; their relationships with each other are much more murky. As they all care for him, they must communicate for the first time in years.

There are some beautiful moments in the book, especially those that revolve around the sea and the strand below the grandmother's house. One conversation between Helen, the sister, and Declan's friend Paul was particularly touching. The most tangled lines of communication are between the grandmother, mother, and sister. All three have a different story to tell about why they're no longer close.

Tóibín's strength is that he doesn't hit you over the head. When one character relates stories from his/her past in an effort to connect with the others, it feels organic and natural. The varying perspectives allow you to see fully realized characters, who are neither unlikeable or likable. They're simply people, which is the most refreshing part of this novel.

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Reading Progress

June 5, 2012 – Started Reading
June 5, 2012 – Shelved
June 7, 2012 –
page 149
June 9, 2012 – Finished Reading

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