The Blackwater Lightship

The Blackwater LightshipThe Blackwater Lightship by Colm Tóibín
Published by Scribner on June 5th 2005
Pages: 288
ISBN: 0743203313
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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 her father’s sudden death during her childhood. The women, in fact, have not been invited to Helen’s wedding nor have they met her children. Plus, Declan has no place to stay while he recuperates and he requests to spend his time at his Grandmother’s home. This is where their Mother, Lily was raised and where Helen and Declan were raised after their father died and their Mother abandoned them (in their eyes). This makes for interesting family dynamics.

The women are forced to come together for Declan’s sake. They are joined by Declan’s two friends, Paul and Larry, which make for an interesting mix in the home. Everyone must adjust to each other: the past hurts, misunderstandings, Declan’s illness, the other men in the home, their own personal issues and each other.

Although, Declan has AIDS this book is mainly about family. How do have contact again after not having contact for so long. How do you slide back into a relationship? We see more of the women’s lives. I do wish we saw more of Declan’s life. But this book was really about family relationships, dynamics and healing. That ending though…

I liked this book but I was hoping for better. I loved Brooklyn and was hoping to be as invested in this book as I was in that. I had a hard time connecting to anyone in this book. The characters irritated me with the stubbornness. I do think this is what the Author wanted. He wanted the reader to be as frustrated with these characters as they were with each other. This book was a little slow moving for me at times. At other times I thought this book was brilliant. As always his writing was beautiful but at parts it failed to grab me.


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