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Gaff Topsails

by Patrick Kavanagh

Gaff Topsails

ISBN: 9781896951843

Format: Trade Paperback
Size: 5.5" x 8.5"

Price: $19.95


Publication Date: April 22, 2005



Set on the coast of Newfoundland on June 24, 1948, the Feast of St. John the Baptist, Gaff Topsails is the story of many characters. A middle-aged Irish priest, newly arrived from the New Guinea missions, reflects on a failed love affair. Michael Barron, a mute boy-man, has fallen in love and is puzzled and frightened by the way that his life is turning into a dangerous business. His younger brother, Kevin, is terrorized by whispering monsters that pursue him. An adolescent girl-woman invokes the pagan superstitions of Midsummer’s Day. A woman spends most of her waking hours seated in a rooftop chair, overlooking the sea, waiting for the return of her fisherman-husband. Old Johnny, the mad lighthouse-keeper, remains haunted by a horrifying experience years earlier when his deceit saved others from a terrible death. In the midst of the twentieth century, the spirit of an Irish castaway, dead five hundred years, survives within every soul in Gaff Topsails.


FIC019000 FICTION / Literary

FIC014000 FICTION / Historical

FIC047000 FICTION / Sea Stories


“There is no mistaking the talent and vivid imagination at work throughout the novel.”
Publishers’ Weekly

“Like Joyce, Kavanagh uses language as a metaphor for the division of souls and of countries … The ultimate effect is individualistic and … refreshing.”
The New York Times

“Patrick Kavanagh’s debut is a rich and ambitious book … above all, it thrills to language and brings the ordinary to new life.”
The London Times

“This first novel has much to recommend it. Atmospheric, full of memorable characters and salty vernacular.”
Library Journal

“Kavanagh writes lovingly and carefully of a life and a land that he must know in his bones, so intimate is the sense of it we are left with.”
The Globe and Mail

“This extraordinary first novel … marks the advent of a major new Canadian literary talent. Kavanagh’s musical prose is full of the lilt of Newfoundland voices and his knowledge of the nooks and crannies of language and folklore is profound.”
The Toronto Star

“Like flaming Catherine wheels, Kavanagh’s prose takes us rolling across landscapes and across time … This is a serious new Canadian talent, and a magical story well told.”
The Ottawa Citizen

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