This novel is a tapestry woven from sea, soil, and the souls of a small Irish Catholic parish on the coast of Newfoundland. It is June 24, 1948 - the Feast of St. John the Baptist, the Bringer of Light, commemorated with bonfires ignited on the headlands. Father MacMurrough, newly arrived and desperately lonely, reflects on a failed love affair. Michael Barron, a young mute, falls in love and is puzzled by the way that his life - like the tremendous iceberg he and his friends explore - is turning into a dangerous business. His pious younger brother, Kevin, is terrorized by whispering monsters and imagined sins. Mary, an adolescent dreamer, invokes the pagan superstitions of Midsummer's Day in the hopes of divining her future husband. On a rooftop overlooking the sea, a woman rocks her baby as she waits for her fisherman husband to return home. Meanwhile, Old Johnny, the drunken lighthouse keeper, staggers through the day, haunted by the phantoms of his past. Behind all of them looms the founding father of the village, an Irish castaway, the son of a monk, dead five hundred years. Even in the middle of the twentieth century, something of his spirit survives within every soul in the community.
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LibraryThing ReviewUser Review - LynnB - LibraryThing
Gaff Topsails tells the story of a number of Newfoundlanders on June 24, 1948. As school ends for the summer, and the town gets ready for the annual St. John the Baptist celebration and bonfire, the ... Read full review
GAFF TOPSAILSUser Review - Jane Doe - Kirkus
A wealth of fascinating material and its author's lyrical prose style are the saving graces of this ponderous, overheated first novel from and about Newfoundland. Its actions occur during a single day ... Read full review