By Colm Toibin
The Blackwater Lightship is a powerful piece of work which brings forward the enigmatic relationships between family members. Colm Toibin has skilfully sketched the intricate, nearly non-existent relations between three women: Helen Devereux, her mother Lili and her grandmother Dora, who after years of friction are forced to find some common ground. An uneasy piece caused by their reunion around Helen's adored brother Declan, who is suffering of an incurable disease. Taking his wish in account, they join him in the grandmother's crumbling house with two of his friends. Six different personalities, from different generations, who having no common ideas or beliefs will be forced to listen to each other and why not, soften their view of right and wrong.
A novel full of emotion caused by Declan's illness which accelerates the pace. However, there also is a psychological side to the book shaped by the uneasy relationships, reminders of old sores and pains. Battles that Helen will try to explain to her husband who will find " the conflicts too sharp and deeply embedded for him to fathom."
Different people, each of them hurt by their different stories or, in Helen, Lili and Dora's case their different approach of the same. Throughout what could be qualified of a journey towards sorrow, Colm Toibin will make us realise that friendship and family ties require constant effort, careful handling and are never to be taken for granted.
A beautiful story which is cleverly used by its author to show the evolution of society in Ireland: three generations of women whose way of thinking reflect these changes. A pertinent and powerful language is used which conveys strong emotion to the reader holding his attention till the end.
In my opinion a remarkable read !