Author: Colm Tóibín.
This is my first time reading a novel by our very own Colm Tóibín, who has come into the spotlight lately for the film adaptation of his 2009 novel Brooklyn. I wasn’t disappointed.
I thoroughly enjoyed The Blackwater Lightship as Tóibín follows the lives and tensions between three generations of Irish women; Mrs. Devereux, her daughter Lily, and Lily’s daughter Helen. The three must come together in order to deal with the Declan, Helen’s brother, who is suffering from AIDS.
The novel deals with changes in Irish society, tensions between mothers and daughters, homosexuality and struggles of the past amid the beautiful yet tragic Wexford landscape.
I don’t read a lot of contemporary Irish literature, but I feel like I should since I am Irish. I feel my aversion to it is because those books usually deal with the Church, or pubs, or offices, or other everyday mundane things whereas I like a bit of escapism. But this is the first time a contemporary Irish novel really grasped my attention. I was interested in the theme of homosexuality, and this novel deals with it in a realistic fashion. The gay men that feature are everyday characters that are both entertaining and realistic. We get Paul’s back-story which I adored.
The tension between the three women is written extremely well, and we get that sense of Irish traditions and “What would the neighbours think.” The struggles of the past are brought to the forefront as the three women deal with their feelings. That idea could be applied to any Irish household which is the great thing about this book.
The novel felt like a serious piece of work and I was utterly impressed. I’ll definitely be returning to Colm Tóibín soon.