• Michael Braccia

Book Review: The Blackwater Lightship (Colm Toibin)

Updated: Aug 4, 2019


Colm Toibin – The Blackwater Lightship

A story about family relationships and family tragedy. Helen has not spoken to her mother for a long time, their relationship being strained to breaking point after the loss of her father. There is also an emotional distance between Helen and her grandmother, but the news that her brother is seriously ill stirs something within her. She doesn’t want a reconciliation but feels deep down that it may be inevitable.

Toibin looks into our hearts and our own lives with great skill. He knows that we can all relate, at some level, with the main character Helen. She has her own family, a husband and two young boys, but this event shakes her. She questions her own loyalties and the basis of her own relationships, if only because the plight of her brother brings back the hurt she felt when losing her father.

Toibin knows how to make us think. His books are difficult to put down, and at the same time elicit your own feelings of guilt, shame, loneliness and grief. He knows how to make us listen, and we do.

Michael Braccia


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