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The blackwater lightship
Colm Toibin
Adult Fiction TOIBIN

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From Publishers' Weekly:

One of the young Turks of Irish fiction (The Heather Blazing; The Story of the Night) again examines themes of loss and death in a novel, shortlisted for the Booker Prize. In clipped, stripped-down prose, T¢ib¡n unfolds the family saga of Helen, mother Lily and grandmother Dora, three generations of women whose estrangement is ended by the grief they share. Helen's brother, Declan, is dying of AIDS. Helen receives the news of Declan's illness from Paul, her brother's best friend. Unlike her mother or grandmother, Helen has known for years that Declan is gay, but he has kept his illness a secret, even from her. Declan sends Paul to fetch Helen to the hospital, where he asks her to tell their mother and grandmother about his condition. Declan wants them all to spend a few days together at Granny's seaside house in Cush, Wexford. Years ago, Declan and Helen stayed there while Lily attended to their father, who was dying in a hospital in Dublin. Larry, another friend, completes the cast of characters surrounding Declan during his decline. T¢ib¡n has not written a "dying of AIDS" story here. Instead, by focusing on the relationships of those around Declan, he has created a delicately powerful story of a family's failure to face difficult feelings and their stubborn refusal to admit need. The novel does not take a flamboyant tone, but instead keeps faith with the quiet power of everyday life to imbue its straightforward prose with the essence of drama. (Aug.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

From Library Journal:

When Helen O!Doherty was 11, her father died of cancer, attended by her mother in Dublin while she and younger brother, Declan, were locked away from the truth in their grandparents! house on the Wexford coast. Now in her thirties, the successful school principal and mother of two is still in emotional limbo, and her bitterness toward the adults who made a trap of her innocence lingers. She must, however, confront the past if she is to understand another ever-present tragedy: Declan, who has not officially come out to his family, is dying of AIDS. The rhythm of conversation and argument carries TUibIn!s spare novel (after The Story of the Night, LJ 5/15/97), which was shortlisted for the 1999 Booker Prize for fiction. Sometimes his (thankfully) unobtrusive nature unsettled this reviewer; he refuses to heal Helen!s wounds completely by book!s end and lets her forgive at her own grudgingly human pace. Moreover, TUibIn!s lack of ego is admirable, and he creates a realistic portrait of adults acting like children and children acting like adults. Recommended for fans of contemporary Irish fiction."Heather McCormack, Library Journal (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

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main characters Dora Devereux
Lily's mother.

Lily Devereux
Dora's daughter; Helen and Declan's mother.

Helen Devereux
Lily's estranged daughter; Declan's sister.

Declan Devereux
AIDS patient
Lily's son; Helen's brother.

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