Yup, we’ve got that one

And more than one million more. Become a member today and read free for two weeks.

Read free for two weeks
Hauntingly beautiful and heartbreaking, Colm Tóibín's sixth novel, Brooklyn, is set in Brooklyn and Ireland in the early 1950s, when one young woman crosses the ocean to make a new life for herself.

Eilis Lacey has come of age in small-town Ireland in the years following World War Two. Though skilled at bookkeeping, she cannot find a job in the miserable Irish economy. When an Irish priest from Brooklyn offers to sponsor Eilis in America -- to live and work in a Brooklyn neighborhood "just like Ireland" -- she decides she must go, leaving her fragile mother and her charismatic sister behind.

Eilis finds work in a department store on Fulton Street, and when she least expects it, finds love. Tony, a blond Italian from a big family, slowly wins her over with patient charm. He takes Eilis to Coney Island and Ebbets Field and home to dinner in the two-room apartment he shares with his brothers and parents. He talks of having children who are Dodgers fans. But just as Eilis begins to fall in love with Tony, devastating news from Ireland threatens the promise of her future.

By far Tóibín's most instantly engaging and emotionally resonant novel, Brooklyn will make readers fall in love with his gorgeous writing and spellbinding characters.

Topics: 1950s, Ireland, Brooklyn, Immigration, Family, Love, Coming of Age, Love Story, Working Class, Lyrical, Contemplative, Emotional, and Third Person Narration

Published: Scribner on
ISBN: 9781439149829
List price: $12.99
Read on Scribd mobile: iPhone, iPad and Android.
Availability for Brooklyn: A Novel
With a 30 day free trial you can read online for free
  1. This book can be read on up to 6 mobile devices.
This was the first Toibin book for me and I adored it. I had wonderful images in my mind as I read. The story was simple but so compelling.more
I was a little disappointed that the narrator didn't have a nice light Irish lilt and, even more annoying, had a voice that reminded me of the voice-over for Muffy (children's show on Noggin) which is vaguely condescending (like the voice a Kindergarten teacher uses with adults when she forgets she's not talking to 4-year-olds!) But I did listen to the whole of the book. I can't say I loved the story. The protag came across as a girl whose actions were primarily informed by her own cowardice and weaknesses. Page after page of the tedium of her life and in the end, I never felt anything more than disappointment in her, much less any sense of triumph.
more
Picked this one up for One Book, One Chicago. The prose are short and sweet, and paint more of a sweeping picture rather than getting into v. specific details.

The story of a girl from Ireland who is sent to Brooklyn for work and how she copes with a new city and culture. A bit of a coming of age story as well.

Nice story with a realist ending which I appreciated.

more
I loved the calm, measured way the author went about telling this story. There was no messing around with symbolism or skirting round the issues, he just told it like it was. His writing had a clarity and simplicity I appreciated very much. Set in the 1950s is the story of Eilis, a young woman from rural Ireland, who moves to Brooklyn in search of opportunities that are not available to her back home. While she suffers minor setbacks along the way (bitchy housemates, homesickness and a gloriously vomity scene on board ship) she is successful in making a life for herself in the USA. It got me thinking how sometimes you don’t need a catalogue of disasters to make a book enjoyable. I liked the way things went generally well for Eilis as she is a likeable character, one I could sympathise with, and someone who always tries to do the right thing. On the other hand, when things go swimmingly there is always the suspicion that when a disaster comes it will be a very big one. So it proves here.The book is instructive as to the morals of the day, and when these morals are combined with a Catholic upbringing, and a network of all-seeing relatives and acquaintances, the effects are seen to be suffocating.The story ended earlier than I was expecting. There are several clues dropped by the author in the later stages which help the reader work out what happens after the text stops, though I’m inclined to think not knowing might be better.more
A beautiful story of inner strength, growing up and making your own way in the world. It made me cry a couple of times, it was so true to life. It's the kind of book that stops time around you and immerses you in the world the author has created. I did not want to let the characters go.more
This book is so quiet and unassuming that it was difficult for me to figure out what rating to give it. I think the reason it appealed to me is because throughout the whole thing I could not help but imagine my parents, specifically my own mom, having similar thoughts and feeling and experiences when she moved to America. The difficulties of being between two worlds, missing your family from back home, and missing American when you were back home. The decisions of what to have and what to leave behind. The ending did seem abrupt, I will say that though.

I wouldn't say this is a book for everyone, but it did touch my heart.more
Very well written, the novel felt so real that I, too, got frustrated with the main character before I asked myself whether this could be the very purpose of the novel, to show the way a young woman's life was not a matter of her making, but seemed to be influenced by just about everybody around her. She never had a chance to find who she was, to see what she likes or whom she likes - the things were set in motion for her and she was swept by them, and acted ad hoc, sometimes even astonishingly out of her role of a young Irish girl, showing sparks of a person she could have become. In the end, she cannot handle (hide) anything any more and succumbs to the first objection that threats to reveal what is going on, and that she has been a bad girl, really, doing things without telling anyone. I must say I am a little puzzled by the title. The novel gives a strong picture of the times, the working place, the role of the Irish community and the church, but Brooklyn is not the main focus, almost a main character - or is it? It is a promise of a better life that does not turn out that good in the end, not for a young girl without any means or experience, and a background that has taught her to do as she is told and not fuss much.more
This is a gentle book. Eilis lives with her mother and older sister Rose in post-WWII Ireland. A priest who is visiting from Brooklyn tells her of the employment opportunities in Brooklyn and offers to help her find a job and a place to live. So Eilis sets out for America. Her story is the story of a homesick young woman trying to make her way in the world. The first half of the book is more a portrait than a story. The events that occur help us understand Eilis, but there are few significant plot points until tragedy strikes. And in her reaction to these tragic events, Eilis struggles to figure out who she is. Perhaps because of this, some of Eilis choices surprised me at this point in the story, seeming out of character. The conflict is resolved by an event that seemed almost too coincidental and the ending felt a bit rushed. But despite this, I still enjoyed Toibin’s writing and his recognition of the difficulty of being far from home.more
Colm Toibin, Brooklyn, Scribner, 2009A young Irish girl in the 50’s comes to America, returns to visit her mother in Ireland, and then needs to decide whether to return to Brooklyn, where secretly she had married Tony, a loveable, capable Italian.Eilis is a simple, earnest, intelligent Irish girl. Her older sister Rose plays golf and works as an accountant in town. Eilis’s 3 brothers have left home for work in cities. Her father is dead and her mother dotes on Rose. Eilis is doing well in the job she has on Sundays, minding the register in Miss Kelly’s grocery shop in her little town, where everybody knows everybody and knows about everybody else. Rose arranges with Father Flood, a priest visiting form Brooklyn, to help Ailis go to the states, find her work and a place to live. Eilis is boarding at strict Mrs Kehoe’s, working in a Brooklyn department store, and going to night school to be an accountant, when she meets Tony at a dance. Eilis, more of a serious nature, cannot resist Tony’s sweet, cheerful company, and soon they are seeing each other 3xweek. She meets his Italian family--the parents and 4 brothers live in a two room apartment in Bensonhurst. Tony is a successful plumber, his brothers accomplished in other fields that will come in advantageously when they begin building houses on the acreage they have bought in the encroachingly developed areas of Long Island. Tony takes Eilis out to dinner, to the Coney Island beach, walks her home from night classes. She is happy with him and looking forward to their future together, when her sister Rose dies. She is so upset, she lets Tony ocmfort her to the extent of making love. Her mother’s letters are so lonely and complaining, Eilis, decides she must go home, planning to be gone for a month (takes a week over and back on the ship.) Tony convinces her to marry him before she goes--a civil service, to have the church service when she gets back. In Ireland, she is convinced to delay her return to attend her best friend’s wedding. She spends lots of time with her bf & fiance and Jim, fiance’s friend whom she had met formerly at a dance and thought stuck up. Jim runs his parents pub and has a good future. Gradually, Brooklyn fades away. Eilis is so comfortable back in Ireland, feels like she should be there, and has fallen in love with Jim. Colm Toibin’s superbly controlled narrative held me fast. I could hardly put this simple story down and agonized with Eilis over whether to tell Jim she was married, whether to return to Brooklyn. Turns out, in the last pages, Miss Kelly is an old friend of Mrs. Kehoe’s, has learned all about Eilis and Tony. When she calls Eilis into her shop, takes her upstairs to her own quarters, then alludes to the situation, Eilis realizes she has no choice but to return to Brooklyn. Her mother is staunch, wishes her and her husband, who she only finds out about Eilis’s last day there, well, and then retreats to her bedroom while Eilis packs and leaves without another word in the morning. 7/09more
Brooklyn is the elegant and, at first, deceptively simple story of Eilis Lacey, an Irish immigrant in Brooklyn not long after World War Two. Soon after the death of her father, an Irish priest in New York named Father Flood, seemingly at the request of Eilis’ sister, Rose, arranges for her passage, housing, job, and night classes in bookkeeping. Eilis, is observant and secretive, prone to melancholy, sensitive yet determined. She shows flashes of a lively sense of humor, usually directed at the small-minded. As she settles in, Eilis at first misses her home in Ireland. She then meets Tony. She must decide how much to tell her sister, her mother, anyone, about him. She has to decide for herself how far her life with Tony is going to progress.The story is about how Eilis navigates her life in Brooklyn, and back in Ireland at the same time. She makes decisions and must live with them. Toíbín masterfully charts her course from Ireland to Brooklyn, and back. He crafts wonderfully realistic characters and doesn’t pull any punches in depicting them. Brooklyn is a exceptional book.more
The best word to describe this book may be subtle. There plot centers on a young girl who leaves Ireland for the United States and settles in Brooklyn to start a new life. The reason I would refer to this book as subtle is that the main character (Eilis) is a passive person who reacts to others more than taking action to change her life. Even her trip to America was decided and planned by her older sister. The book is well written and I enjoyed some of the descriptions of life in Brooklyn from approximately half a century ago. I found it interesting to read about the different immigrant cultures and how these interacted (or didn't) with one another during the post WWII time period.more
Set in the 1950s, this novel tells the story of young Irish woman named Eilis who gets the opportunity to emigrate to New York, work in a shop, and begin studying accounting and law. At its best, the story captures nuances of everyday life from the small kindnesses to the petty jealousy, homesickness to new love. Unfortunately, Eilis has a problem in that she seems incapable of making decisions for herself and thus allows others to shape her life for her. This comes to a head in the final section of the book which I found so frustrating and didn’t know if should be angry at Eilis for having no spine or angry at everyone in society who made her this way. Nevertheless, while unsatisfying on the narrative level this is a well-written and honest novel.more
Journey to America from Ireland for Eilis. Story unfolds as she makes her way in a city of immigrants. Fascinating insight into immigrant communities within NYC. Eilis gains confidence as she makes her way, meets people from diverse backgrounds mostly at the department store where she works, successfully completes training as a bookkeeper and develops a romantic relationship. When she returns to Ireland for a visit, she is seen differently by the villagers and treated with respect and interest by those who had ignored her. In the end, Eilis must decide whether to return to the life she is building in America or settle into the old routine where other people ran her life. Maybe because of high expectations after reading the reviews, I was a little disappointed by this book. I wanted more depth and/or character development.more
Beautifully written historical fiction about a young Irish girl who immigrates alone to the United States in the 1950’s. Short-listed for the Booker Prize.more
This book delights at many levels. For one who grew up in the south east of Ireland in the 1950-60s it transported me back to many familiar sights, sounds, smells and moments - with uncanny accuracy. The delectation is in the detail and Colm Tóibín has his details spot on. Mrs Kelly's shop, the Sunday night dance, early Mass, the Courtown Hotel, Curracloe and Ballyconnigar strand all evoke vivid memories. The petty snobbery, importance of appearances, and the social catastrophe of mass forced emigration are captured with a light touch, without anything actually being said about them.Indeed it is the absence of saying anything about anything important that is probably the salient impression I take from the novel. Real issues are never discussed openly by the main characters or sometimes not at all. We Irish are masters at skirting the subject, dropping hints, making snide comments, raising an eyebrow to deliver a message but rarely are we ones for coming out in the open, addressing an issue up-front. We are certainly better than we were but the old ways of buttoned-up silent emotions that Tóibín lays out brilliantly remains our default stance.What is exceptional about the main character Eilís Lacey is that she is endowed with heightened intuition for a young woman of her age and time. She can see into and beyond what people say to what they are thinking and feeling and her capacity for discernment is breathtaking. Her poise and manner set her apart but her inability to freely express her own inner emotions eventually is her undoing.Denial runs through these pages as a leitmotif. Eilís's recently dead father is hardly mentioned, the harrowing feelings of everyone concerned at her departure for America (including her own) and other later events are never expressed, tears are shed in private, major issues are avoided or left to simmer, letters are written without crucial content, joy, love, ecstasy are barely acknowledged. Tóibín has illustrated an innate Irish ethnic trait in the most subtle yet damming way - by slowly and painstakingly unearthing its essence while never actually naming it. He learned his manners well in Enniscorthy.The other themes of the book for me are emigration and women. The experience of a houseful of Irish emigrants in Brooklyn is brilliantly portrayed but it could be mirrored by similar groups in any part of England at the time, except for the particular constraints imposed by the distance from home. Lack of education meant limited opportunity and the Irish tended to huddle together for support and comfort. The beneficent influence of the Catholic Church gets its due as a bulwark of strength in a somewhat hostile environment. What is absent is any sense of frustration, anger or betrayal that this should be the lot of these young people - deserted by a nation pledged to cherish them. And that too is authentic. It is only in recent times that Irish people have moved beyond mute acceptance of forced mass emigration and started to ask the why questions.Apart from Fr Flood who helps Eilís in Brooklyn there is hardly another major male character. Tóibín has a sub-plot here as well I suspect. In the official Ireland of government, news, church, and commerce it was only men who were seen or heard. Women were confined behind the lace curtains but that did not diminish their power exercised in ways that men neither understood nor felt. This is a hymn of praise to Irish women of that era who did not merely suffer in silence but rose above it to act with dignity, sense, courage and humility as beautifully revealed in the portraits of Eilís, her mother and her sister Rose. For accuracy sake the narrow mindedness and cruelty of other women is there too in Mrs Kelly and Mrs Kehoe but their parts merely serve to highlight the heroism of the Lacey women. Like many mothers and daughters of their time duty was what counted - knowing it and doing it come what may--and never letting the side down.The book left me with much to remember and much to regret. As I wallowed in the nostalgia Tóibín craftily created I began to become uneasy and a sense of foreboding accompanied every page turn. As Eilís got happier I become more alert, more aware of impending doom. In that older Ireland joy was not just fleeting it was distrusted and discouraged. "You'll soon get your comeuppance me boyo!" And just on cue Tóibín brought me down to earth--but bless him--he didn't leave me totally devastated at the end.more
This is the first book that I have read by Tόibin and is one that I really enjoyed. Tόibin has developed all his characters so clearly and the plot of the novel just flows through them. I loved seeing how she viewed the world in Ireland and how her view of the world change when she arrived in Brooklyn. The plot flowed so well during this novel that it was actually a pleasure to read it and I am glad I have had such a good introduction into the writing style of Tόibin. I loved how Tόibin presented the immigrant/emigrant experience, it was presented which such raw emotion that it felt like I was standing there watching the events unfold in front of my eyes. Overall an excellent novel, which was a pleasure to read and one that I highly recommend.This review was first published on everybookhasasoul.more
it's a really enjoyable read- great holiday reading, but certainly not a 'masterwork' as the quote on cover proclaimsmore
Many female characters in historical fiction, no matter what the time period, are anachronistically depicted as proto-feminists. Not Eilis Lacey. She's got to be the most passive character to ever have a whole book devoted to her. She makes no decisions and has only quiet, weak opinions. Her sister and a priest decide that Eilis is going to move to Brooklyn, so she does. The priest gets her a job and a room, and gets her into nigh school school, so she goes. Her boyfriend likes the Dodgers, so she does. Her boyfriend wants to.... (I won't complete this sentence, because it could be considered a spoiler).The book starts out very slowly, and if I didn't have to finish it for a book club, I wouldn't have gotten past the graphic depictions of Eilis's seasickness. It does pick up toward the end.more
Weighty subjects are broached in Colm Toibin’s Brooklyn – emigration, opportunities in America, racism, class barriers, religion, love and death – but it is a very intimate, quiet book. I found it compelling and read it pretty much in one day. Eilis Lacey is a somewhat naïve girl who keeps to herself after being separated from her family when she emigrates from Ireland to America. Toibin is able to create a good sense of his main character – introverted, unsure, constantly worried that her judgment is incorrect. All the little issues that Eilis faces become involving topics of concern when described in Toibin’s clean, unadorned prose.Even before emigrating, Eilis is an observer – a good one. Some might complain about the lack of dramatic events and a focus on small details, but this establishes Eilis’ character and concerns – she often notes what people wear, how her clothes compare, if she is acting correctly and not standing out in every situation. She doesn’t just observe but collects these memories to tell her sister, Rose, (and possibly her mother), as she has always done, though it is hard in her new life with rushed, impersonal letters. Eilis is concerned with propriety but not prim and she is amenable and looks to please. These qualities make her kind and tolerant – she is less concerned about race and class than her housemates, for example. However, they also make her malleable, forgetful and willing to go along with what others want from her which leads to some unkind behavior at the end (though some creaky plot developments also help).The synopsis makes it seem that the story is one mostly of thwarted love, but this is something of a misdirection. The book spends enough time on her life in Ireland with her needy mother and capable sister and leisurely follows her life in Brooklyn – settling in, job woes, personal conflicts – before she finds love. I also liked that fact that not everything mentioned was significant, just a part of life – for example, we don’t get all the details of her boyfriend’s previous girlfriend or a man that she notices during a Christmas dinner. I thought it was very well done and enjoyed the book immensely – wanted more at the end – but I could see that if someone wants something a bit more dramatic, they might not enjoy it.more
Historical fiction novel about an Irish immigrant Eilis Lacey, who is offered work in Brooklyn. Once there she suffers homesickness and wishes to be back in Ireland. But then she meets Tony. Unexpectedly she returns to Ireland and is torn between staying "home" or creating a new home in Brooklyn with Tony. The tale has some feel of "bygone" days, but the sentiment could have been stronger.more
I must agree with the other 2-3 star reviewers. I found the characters muted and I got no sense of how the characters felt. Eilis's reaction to her sister's death never made sense. Toibin's simply stated how the characters felt but did nothing to convince me of how they felt. There should have been more dialogue. I did get a sense of the times and class issues but I can't get that from anyone. Basically, if it had been a longer book I would not have finished it. Based on what I heard about Toibin, I expected more. This was the lowest I have rated a book in over 2 years. I have read the 5 star reviews and I still do not get what they see in the book. Having a single narrator definitely hurt the book. It would have helped to see the world through the eyes of other characters. I doubt if I would pick up any more books by Toibin. Very disappointing!!!!more
This wonderfully gentle novel follows Eilis Lacey as she moves between Enniscorthy, Ireland, and Brooklyn, New York, in the early 1950s. Eilis is bright but thoughtful, always reflectively engaged with her surroundings. Almost from the first, Tóibín subtly establishes distancing devices and coping mechanisms for Eilis, establishing for her a determined inner life. Eilis is decisive but also self-persuasive, so much so that, by the climax of the piece, we see her winding herself into an excruciating self-created dilemma, which may not be fully justified in terms of Eilis’ character. But then, like the Gordian knot being hacked away, the tension is suddenly released. Eilis is freed to move forward with her new life, with just enough of a reminder of other possibilities to ensure that she will always nurture an inner, private life, an emblem of her independence. Highly recommended.more
Quiet, gently paced, uncomplicated (except by the sorts of bits and bobs that generally inhabit a life), this is a story of what it means to be home. The central character, Eilis, takes a goodly part of the first portion of the book to actually land in Brooklyn from Enniscorthy, Ireland (and a significant portion later on, also away from Brooklyn.) Once there, though the story was set in the mid 1950's, it could have been the story of new beginnings, homesickness, and acclimation set anywhere in the first half of the last century. Eilis adjusts to her new world, meets a boy, and must decide if she should marry him. That's pretty much essentially it, though there is a twist brought into the plot regarding this that perked my attention midway in the book.I found myself comparing the Brooklyn of Eilis to that of my mother's family, who immigrated over 100 years ago. There were some similarities, but little I recognized, except for the name of a street or place here or there. She grew up there, lived in Brighton Beach and went to Brooklyn College as a day student. (All the classes Eilis took were at night.) Brooklyn from the Irish view is different that from the Jewish view. Not better, or worse, just different. One passage has Eilis having trouble distinguishing the Jews from the Italians, because they both were so dark, except the Jewish men wore funny hats. My mother's family, on the other hand, referred to the naturalized Americans down the street, who originally came from Italy, as "the foreigners". Perspective is everything.If you're looking for excitement, lavish adventure, mysticism, magical realism, fast paced mystery, or even a novel with high tension or intricate plots, this isn't the book for you. But I enjoyed the gentle way Tóibín meandered through his character's lives, and the slice of Irish/ Italian immigrant life presented.more
Very touching, well-written story about a woman between two worlds. I truly liked this and read it in one day!more
For most of the book I have found it plain, but never to the point of being boring. It turns out that it has all been a set-up for some wonderful writing at the end, and Toibin does save the best stuff for last. Toibin is a master of narration and this is an example of one writer who would not compromise the quality of his English for anything. And in his almost simplistic storytelling there's a lot of depth to be admired.And, have I mentioned that the ending is simply masterfully beautiful?more
This book can be summed up in very few words: Young woman moves from Ireland to Brooklyn, has to go back to Ireland, then goes back to Brooklyn. Rather than being boring, however, it is just wonderful. Like a piece of Arts & Craft furniture, it's simple, beautiful and well-made.more
A beautiful historical novel, simply eloquent and quietly deep, that mysteriously captures the immigrant experience of a young girl sent away to do her duty for the family in America. Skillful evocation of 1950s Brooklyn and the Irish boarding house the heroine lives in there, as well as of the life and aspirations of her Italian immigrant boyfriend. Equally as skillfully, Toibin depicts the character's other life, back home in a small village in Ireland. Ultimately Eilis must choose one half of her psyche and give up the other, a choice that one feels will forever leave her split, hurting both herself and the life she must leave behind.more
This novel, about a young Irishwoman’s experiences in her birth country and the deracination she experiences when she moves to America, touched a deep chord in me. I found the observations on home-sickness and sadness beautifully measured and assured. They reminded me of my own first experiences away from home, and it is this resonant quality of Tóibín’s writing that I enjoyed most. The story is not remarkable in any way; there are no great plot twists, nor does Tóibín bother with any over-the-top scenes. In less assured hands, it could all seem very pedestrian, but Tóibín’s mastery is in making the ordinary seem extraordinary, taking a common little life and infusing it with dignity and interest.The heroine, Eilis, does not seem remarkable at all, at least initially, but through her experiences of pain and love, we come to see her as a fully rounded personality, with her own hopes and aspirations. One could easily dismiss her story as inconsequential, but that would be foolish. It is, after all, the little, seemingly inconsequential events that make up a life. And Eilis does experience monumental events in her own life, even if they do not seem so monumental to an indifferent observer.Tóibín handles Eilis’s burgeoning character expertly, especially when he describes her return to Ireland after a tragedy at home. The way he handles this tragedy, and its effects on Eilis and her family, together with a secret that Eilis has kept from her family, is truly masterly. He sets up tension without resorting to any outlandish tricks, making Eilis’s situation seem all the more universal. The book left me feeling sad at the seeming determinism of our lives, but also hopeful that we do have the ability to choose, whether for good or ill. That may seem somewhat trite, but any fiction that makes one consider your own choices in life seems, to me, to be doing something right.I found Tóibín’s unadorned style refreshing, but a bit anaemic at times. That sounds a bit contradictory, but what I am trying to say is that I enjoyed the purity of the prose, but I wanted a bit more red meat. I tend to prefer a more descriptive style of writing – not necessarily purple patches, but cross-hatched colouring. Perhaps the argument could be made that this style fits the nature of the story. Or perhaps this is just the way Tóibín always writes. Either way, this is not really a criticism, just a preference. On the whole, a beautifully understated book, which I recommended for anyone who likes thoughtful literature. I will definitely be reading more of Colm Tóibín.more
A gentle read.This was an easy read, it flowed along gently, yet it kept my interest. Although it never made five star rating for me, it was a comfortable four star and I even found myself flicking forward to find out what Eilis decided in the end :)Brooklyn is set in 1950s Ireland, where there are few jobs and many people are looking to America for a brighter future. The best Eilis has manged to secure is a Sunday-only job in a local grocery with the crotchety Miss Kelly. Then her sister, Rose, meets Father Flood, visiting from America, and he promises to find Eilis a good job, accomodation and the opportunity to study. With all the enthusiasm from Rose and their mother, Eilis has little say in the decision and before she knows it she is in a rolling liner across the ocean.Toibin excels in his descriptions of these details - the hasty preparations, the awful crossing, and then the newness of everything and the crippling homesickness.To be honest, not a lot happens, but it is the characterisations and the minuitae of life that made this book such an enjoyable read.When there is a death in the family and Eilis makes the journey home, she finds herself torn between her old life and the new. At one point I was willing her to make one decision, by the end I was truly torn.Very similar in many ways to Ellis Island by Kate Kerrigan, also a good read.more
I love books that are driven by great characters. And Eilis Lacey, the protagonist of Colm Toibin's BROOKLYN is one of the best-drawn characters I've encountered in some time. I can see why the book was such a runaway bestseller. Part of that success is due to the fact, I think, that this is a woman's book. I should emphasize that it is exactly that, a "woman's book." It is definitely NOT "chick lit," a sub-genre which certainly has its place, but is still a decidedly inferior type of book. Spoiler alert here, okay? -- The settings - both post-war Ireland and the borough of Brooklyn - are beautifully and realistically rendered, along with all of the melting-pot immigrant ambience of Brooklyn and the Jackie Robinson-era Dodgers, as well as the far-reaching influence of the Catholic Church on both sides of the Atlantic in those times. I enjoyed the book immensely, but only up to a certain point, i.e. Part Four. Then, because Toibin is so very good at portraying character, I began to slowly dislike his heroine more and more. And I didn't like her bereft and scheming mother any better. Like I said, this is a woman's book. I admire great writing, but I am still a guy. Guys hate weak, faithless women. I won't say any more. I don't wanna completely spoil things, although this book has been around for a couple years now and sold countless copies and spawned hundreds of reviews and reactions. I was so upset by the last part of this book I almost gave it only 4 stars - I even thought about a 3-star rating. But what the hell. This Toibin guy can really write. If he can create a character real enough to hate, well, I'll say it again. This guy can write. All this having been said, I wonder if there will be a sequel. He could probably write a good one. And women would eat it up. I'd probably be tempted to read it myself. Or not.more
Read all 126 reviews

Reviews

This was the first Toibin book for me and I adored it. I had wonderful images in my mind as I read. The story was simple but so compelling.more
I was a little disappointed that the narrator didn't have a nice light Irish lilt and, even more annoying, had a voice that reminded me of the voice-over for Muffy (children's show on Noggin) which is vaguely condescending (like the voice a Kindergarten teacher uses with adults when she forgets she's not talking to 4-year-olds!) But I did listen to the whole of the book. I can't say I loved the story. The protag came across as a girl whose actions were primarily informed by her own cowardice and weaknesses. Page after page of the tedium of her life and in the end, I never felt anything more than disappointment in her, much less any sense of triumph.
more
Picked this one up for One Book, One Chicago. The prose are short and sweet, and paint more of a sweeping picture rather than getting into v. specific details.

The story of a girl from Ireland who is sent to Brooklyn for work and how she copes with a new city and culture. A bit of a coming of age story as well.

Nice story with a realist ending which I appreciated.

more
I loved the calm, measured way the author went about telling this story. There was no messing around with symbolism or skirting round the issues, he just told it like it was. His writing had a clarity and simplicity I appreciated very much. Set in the 1950s is the story of Eilis, a young woman from rural Ireland, who moves to Brooklyn in search of opportunities that are not available to her back home. While she suffers minor setbacks along the way (bitchy housemates, homesickness and a gloriously vomity scene on board ship) she is successful in making a life for herself in the USA. It got me thinking how sometimes you don’t need a catalogue of disasters to make a book enjoyable. I liked the way things went generally well for Eilis as she is a likeable character, one I could sympathise with, and someone who always tries to do the right thing. On the other hand, when things go swimmingly there is always the suspicion that when a disaster comes it will be a very big one. So it proves here.The book is instructive as to the morals of the day, and when these morals are combined with a Catholic upbringing, and a network of all-seeing relatives and acquaintances, the effects are seen to be suffocating.The story ended earlier than I was expecting. There are several clues dropped by the author in the later stages which help the reader work out what happens after the text stops, though I’m inclined to think not knowing might be better.more
A beautiful story of inner strength, growing up and making your own way in the world. It made me cry a couple of times, it was so true to life. It's the kind of book that stops time around you and immerses you in the world the author has created. I did not want to let the characters go.more
This book is so quiet and unassuming that it was difficult for me to figure out what rating to give it. I think the reason it appealed to me is because throughout the whole thing I could not help but imagine my parents, specifically my own mom, having similar thoughts and feeling and experiences when she moved to America. The difficulties of being between two worlds, missing your family from back home, and missing American when you were back home. The decisions of what to have and what to leave behind. The ending did seem abrupt, I will say that though.

I wouldn't say this is a book for everyone, but it did touch my heart.more
Very well written, the novel felt so real that I, too, got frustrated with the main character before I asked myself whether this could be the very purpose of the novel, to show the way a young woman's life was not a matter of her making, but seemed to be influenced by just about everybody around her. She never had a chance to find who she was, to see what she likes or whom she likes - the things were set in motion for her and she was swept by them, and acted ad hoc, sometimes even astonishingly out of her role of a young Irish girl, showing sparks of a person she could have become. In the end, she cannot handle (hide) anything any more and succumbs to the first objection that threats to reveal what is going on, and that she has been a bad girl, really, doing things without telling anyone. I must say I am a little puzzled by the title. The novel gives a strong picture of the times, the working place, the role of the Irish community and the church, but Brooklyn is not the main focus, almost a main character - or is it? It is a promise of a better life that does not turn out that good in the end, not for a young girl without any means or experience, and a background that has taught her to do as she is told and not fuss much.more
This is a gentle book. Eilis lives with her mother and older sister Rose in post-WWII Ireland. A priest who is visiting from Brooklyn tells her of the employment opportunities in Brooklyn and offers to help her find a job and a place to live. So Eilis sets out for America. Her story is the story of a homesick young woman trying to make her way in the world. The first half of the book is more a portrait than a story. The events that occur help us understand Eilis, but there are few significant plot points until tragedy strikes. And in her reaction to these tragic events, Eilis struggles to figure out who she is. Perhaps because of this, some of Eilis choices surprised me at this point in the story, seeming out of character. The conflict is resolved by an event that seemed almost too coincidental and the ending felt a bit rushed. But despite this, I still enjoyed Toibin’s writing and his recognition of the difficulty of being far from home.more
Colm Toibin, Brooklyn, Scribner, 2009A young Irish girl in the 50’s comes to America, returns to visit her mother in Ireland, and then needs to decide whether to return to Brooklyn, where secretly she had married Tony, a loveable, capable Italian.Eilis is a simple, earnest, intelligent Irish girl. Her older sister Rose plays golf and works as an accountant in town. Eilis’s 3 brothers have left home for work in cities. Her father is dead and her mother dotes on Rose. Eilis is doing well in the job she has on Sundays, minding the register in Miss Kelly’s grocery shop in her little town, where everybody knows everybody and knows about everybody else. Rose arranges with Father Flood, a priest visiting form Brooklyn, to help Ailis go to the states, find her work and a place to live. Eilis is boarding at strict Mrs Kehoe’s, working in a Brooklyn department store, and going to night school to be an accountant, when she meets Tony at a dance. Eilis, more of a serious nature, cannot resist Tony’s sweet, cheerful company, and soon they are seeing each other 3xweek. She meets his Italian family--the parents and 4 brothers live in a two room apartment in Bensonhurst. Tony is a successful plumber, his brothers accomplished in other fields that will come in advantageously when they begin building houses on the acreage they have bought in the encroachingly developed areas of Long Island. Tony takes Eilis out to dinner, to the Coney Island beach, walks her home from night classes. She is happy with him and looking forward to their future together, when her sister Rose dies. She is so upset, she lets Tony ocmfort her to the extent of making love. Her mother’s letters are so lonely and complaining, Eilis, decides she must go home, planning to be gone for a month (takes a week over and back on the ship.) Tony convinces her to marry him before she goes--a civil service, to have the church service when she gets back. In Ireland, she is convinced to delay her return to attend her best friend’s wedding. She spends lots of time with her bf & fiance and Jim, fiance’s friend whom she had met formerly at a dance and thought stuck up. Jim runs his parents pub and has a good future. Gradually, Brooklyn fades away. Eilis is so comfortable back in Ireland, feels like she should be there, and has fallen in love with Jim. Colm Toibin’s superbly controlled narrative held me fast. I could hardly put this simple story down and agonized with Eilis over whether to tell Jim she was married, whether to return to Brooklyn. Turns out, in the last pages, Miss Kelly is an old friend of Mrs. Kehoe’s, has learned all about Eilis and Tony. When she calls Eilis into her shop, takes her upstairs to her own quarters, then alludes to the situation, Eilis realizes she has no choice but to return to Brooklyn. Her mother is staunch, wishes her and her husband, who she only finds out about Eilis’s last day there, well, and then retreats to her bedroom while Eilis packs and leaves without another word in the morning. 7/09more
Brooklyn is the elegant and, at first, deceptively simple story of Eilis Lacey, an Irish immigrant in Brooklyn not long after World War Two. Soon after the death of her father, an Irish priest in New York named Father Flood, seemingly at the request of Eilis’ sister, Rose, arranges for her passage, housing, job, and night classes in bookkeeping. Eilis, is observant and secretive, prone to melancholy, sensitive yet determined. She shows flashes of a lively sense of humor, usually directed at the small-minded. As she settles in, Eilis at first misses her home in Ireland. She then meets Tony. She must decide how much to tell her sister, her mother, anyone, about him. She has to decide for herself how far her life with Tony is going to progress.The story is about how Eilis navigates her life in Brooklyn, and back in Ireland at the same time. She makes decisions and must live with them. Toíbín masterfully charts her course from Ireland to Brooklyn, and back. He crafts wonderfully realistic characters and doesn’t pull any punches in depicting them. Brooklyn is a exceptional book.more
The best word to describe this book may be subtle. There plot centers on a young girl who leaves Ireland for the United States and settles in Brooklyn to start a new life. The reason I would refer to this book as subtle is that the main character (Eilis) is a passive person who reacts to others more than taking action to change her life. Even her trip to America was decided and planned by her older sister. The book is well written and I enjoyed some of the descriptions of life in Brooklyn from approximately half a century ago. I found it interesting to read about the different immigrant cultures and how these interacted (or didn't) with one another during the post WWII time period.more
Set in the 1950s, this novel tells the story of young Irish woman named Eilis who gets the opportunity to emigrate to New York, work in a shop, and begin studying accounting and law. At its best, the story captures nuances of everyday life from the small kindnesses to the petty jealousy, homesickness to new love. Unfortunately, Eilis has a problem in that she seems incapable of making decisions for herself and thus allows others to shape her life for her. This comes to a head in the final section of the book which I found so frustrating and didn’t know if should be angry at Eilis for having no spine or angry at everyone in society who made her this way. Nevertheless, while unsatisfying on the narrative level this is a well-written and honest novel.more
Journey to America from Ireland for Eilis. Story unfolds as she makes her way in a city of immigrants. Fascinating insight into immigrant communities within NYC. Eilis gains confidence as she makes her way, meets people from diverse backgrounds mostly at the department store where she works, successfully completes training as a bookkeeper and develops a romantic relationship. When she returns to Ireland for a visit, she is seen differently by the villagers and treated with respect and interest by those who had ignored her. In the end, Eilis must decide whether to return to the life she is building in America or settle into the old routine where other people ran her life. Maybe because of high expectations after reading the reviews, I was a little disappointed by this book. I wanted more depth and/or character development.more
Beautifully written historical fiction about a young Irish girl who immigrates alone to the United States in the 1950’s. Short-listed for the Booker Prize.more
This book delights at many levels. For one who grew up in the south east of Ireland in the 1950-60s it transported me back to many familiar sights, sounds, smells and moments - with uncanny accuracy. The delectation is in the detail and Colm Tóibín has his details spot on. Mrs Kelly's shop, the Sunday night dance, early Mass, the Courtown Hotel, Curracloe and Ballyconnigar strand all evoke vivid memories. The petty snobbery, importance of appearances, and the social catastrophe of mass forced emigration are captured with a light touch, without anything actually being said about them.Indeed it is the absence of saying anything about anything important that is probably the salient impression I take from the novel. Real issues are never discussed openly by the main characters or sometimes not at all. We Irish are masters at skirting the subject, dropping hints, making snide comments, raising an eyebrow to deliver a message but rarely are we ones for coming out in the open, addressing an issue up-front. We are certainly better than we were but the old ways of buttoned-up silent emotions that Tóibín lays out brilliantly remains our default stance.What is exceptional about the main character Eilís Lacey is that she is endowed with heightened intuition for a young woman of her age and time. She can see into and beyond what people say to what they are thinking and feeling and her capacity for discernment is breathtaking. Her poise and manner set her apart but her inability to freely express her own inner emotions eventually is her undoing.Denial runs through these pages as a leitmotif. Eilís's recently dead father is hardly mentioned, the harrowing feelings of everyone concerned at her departure for America (including her own) and other later events are never expressed, tears are shed in private, major issues are avoided or left to simmer, letters are written without crucial content, joy, love, ecstasy are barely acknowledged. Tóibín has illustrated an innate Irish ethnic trait in the most subtle yet damming way - by slowly and painstakingly unearthing its essence while never actually naming it. He learned his manners well in Enniscorthy.The other themes of the book for me are emigration and women. The experience of a houseful of Irish emigrants in Brooklyn is brilliantly portrayed but it could be mirrored by similar groups in any part of England at the time, except for the particular constraints imposed by the distance from home. Lack of education meant limited opportunity and the Irish tended to huddle together for support and comfort. The beneficent influence of the Catholic Church gets its due as a bulwark of strength in a somewhat hostile environment. What is absent is any sense of frustration, anger or betrayal that this should be the lot of these young people - deserted by a nation pledged to cherish them. And that too is authentic. It is only in recent times that Irish people have moved beyond mute acceptance of forced mass emigration and started to ask the why questions.Apart from Fr Flood who helps Eilís in Brooklyn there is hardly another major male character. Tóibín has a sub-plot here as well I suspect. In the official Ireland of government, news, church, and commerce it was only men who were seen or heard. Women were confined behind the lace curtains but that did not diminish their power exercised in ways that men neither understood nor felt. This is a hymn of praise to Irish women of that era who did not merely suffer in silence but rose above it to act with dignity, sense, courage and humility as beautifully revealed in the portraits of Eilís, her mother and her sister Rose. For accuracy sake the narrow mindedness and cruelty of other women is there too in Mrs Kelly and Mrs Kehoe but their parts merely serve to highlight the heroism of the Lacey women. Like many mothers and daughters of their time duty was what counted - knowing it and doing it come what may--and never letting the side down.The book left me with much to remember and much to regret. As I wallowed in the nostalgia Tóibín craftily created I began to become uneasy and a sense of foreboding accompanied every page turn. As Eilís got happier I become more alert, more aware of impending doom. In that older Ireland joy was not just fleeting it was distrusted and discouraged. "You'll soon get your comeuppance me boyo!" And just on cue Tóibín brought me down to earth--but bless him--he didn't leave me totally devastated at the end.more
This is the first book that I have read by Tόibin and is one that I really enjoyed. Tόibin has developed all his characters so clearly and the plot of the novel just flows through them. I loved seeing how she viewed the world in Ireland and how her view of the world change when she arrived in Brooklyn. The plot flowed so well during this novel that it was actually a pleasure to read it and I am glad I have had such a good introduction into the writing style of Tόibin. I loved how Tόibin presented the immigrant/emigrant experience, it was presented which such raw emotion that it felt like I was standing there watching the events unfold in front of my eyes. Overall an excellent novel, which was a pleasure to read and one that I highly recommend.This review was first published on everybookhasasoul.more
it's a really enjoyable read- great holiday reading, but certainly not a 'masterwork' as the quote on cover proclaimsmore
Many female characters in historical fiction, no matter what the time period, are anachronistically depicted as proto-feminists. Not Eilis Lacey. She's got to be the most passive character to ever have a whole book devoted to her. She makes no decisions and has only quiet, weak opinions. Her sister and a priest decide that Eilis is going to move to Brooklyn, so she does. The priest gets her a job and a room, and gets her into nigh school school, so she goes. Her boyfriend likes the Dodgers, so she does. Her boyfriend wants to.... (I won't complete this sentence, because it could be considered a spoiler).The book starts out very slowly, and if I didn't have to finish it for a book club, I wouldn't have gotten past the graphic depictions of Eilis's seasickness. It does pick up toward the end.more
Weighty subjects are broached in Colm Toibin’s Brooklyn – emigration, opportunities in America, racism, class barriers, religion, love and death – but it is a very intimate, quiet book. I found it compelling and read it pretty much in one day. Eilis Lacey is a somewhat naïve girl who keeps to herself after being separated from her family when she emigrates from Ireland to America. Toibin is able to create a good sense of his main character – introverted, unsure, constantly worried that her judgment is incorrect. All the little issues that Eilis faces become involving topics of concern when described in Toibin’s clean, unadorned prose.Even before emigrating, Eilis is an observer – a good one. Some might complain about the lack of dramatic events and a focus on small details, but this establishes Eilis’ character and concerns – she often notes what people wear, how her clothes compare, if she is acting correctly and not standing out in every situation. She doesn’t just observe but collects these memories to tell her sister, Rose, (and possibly her mother), as she has always done, though it is hard in her new life with rushed, impersonal letters. Eilis is concerned with propriety but not prim and she is amenable and looks to please. These qualities make her kind and tolerant – she is less concerned about race and class than her housemates, for example. However, they also make her malleable, forgetful and willing to go along with what others want from her which leads to some unkind behavior at the end (though some creaky plot developments also help).The synopsis makes it seem that the story is one mostly of thwarted love, but this is something of a misdirection. The book spends enough time on her life in Ireland with her needy mother and capable sister and leisurely follows her life in Brooklyn – settling in, job woes, personal conflicts – before she finds love. I also liked that fact that not everything mentioned was significant, just a part of life – for example, we don’t get all the details of her boyfriend’s previous girlfriend or a man that she notices during a Christmas dinner. I thought it was very well done and enjoyed the book immensely – wanted more at the end – but I could see that if someone wants something a bit more dramatic, they might not enjoy it.more
Historical fiction novel about an Irish immigrant Eilis Lacey, who is offered work in Brooklyn. Once there she suffers homesickness and wishes to be back in Ireland. But then she meets Tony. Unexpectedly she returns to Ireland and is torn between staying "home" or creating a new home in Brooklyn with Tony. The tale has some feel of "bygone" days, but the sentiment could have been stronger.more
I must agree with the other 2-3 star reviewers. I found the characters muted and I got no sense of how the characters felt. Eilis's reaction to her sister's death never made sense. Toibin's simply stated how the characters felt but did nothing to convince me of how they felt. There should have been more dialogue. I did get a sense of the times and class issues but I can't get that from anyone. Basically, if it had been a longer book I would not have finished it. Based on what I heard about Toibin, I expected more. This was the lowest I have rated a book in over 2 years. I have read the 5 star reviews and I still do not get what they see in the book. Having a single narrator definitely hurt the book. It would have helped to see the world through the eyes of other characters. I doubt if I would pick up any more books by Toibin. Very disappointing!!!!more
This wonderfully gentle novel follows Eilis Lacey as she moves between Enniscorthy, Ireland, and Brooklyn, New York, in the early 1950s. Eilis is bright but thoughtful, always reflectively engaged with her surroundings. Almost from the first, Tóibín subtly establishes distancing devices and coping mechanisms for Eilis, establishing for her a determined inner life. Eilis is decisive but also self-persuasive, so much so that, by the climax of the piece, we see her winding herself into an excruciating self-created dilemma, which may not be fully justified in terms of Eilis’ character. But then, like the Gordian knot being hacked away, the tension is suddenly released. Eilis is freed to move forward with her new life, with just enough of a reminder of other possibilities to ensure that she will always nurture an inner, private life, an emblem of her independence. Highly recommended.more
Quiet, gently paced, uncomplicated (except by the sorts of bits and bobs that generally inhabit a life), this is a story of what it means to be home. The central character, Eilis, takes a goodly part of the first portion of the book to actually land in Brooklyn from Enniscorthy, Ireland (and a significant portion later on, also away from Brooklyn.) Once there, though the story was set in the mid 1950's, it could have been the story of new beginnings, homesickness, and acclimation set anywhere in the first half of the last century. Eilis adjusts to her new world, meets a boy, and must decide if she should marry him. That's pretty much essentially it, though there is a twist brought into the plot regarding this that perked my attention midway in the book.I found myself comparing the Brooklyn of Eilis to that of my mother's family, who immigrated over 100 years ago. There were some similarities, but little I recognized, except for the name of a street or place here or there. She grew up there, lived in Brighton Beach and went to Brooklyn College as a day student. (All the classes Eilis took were at night.) Brooklyn from the Irish view is different that from the Jewish view. Not better, or worse, just different. One passage has Eilis having trouble distinguishing the Jews from the Italians, because they both were so dark, except the Jewish men wore funny hats. My mother's family, on the other hand, referred to the naturalized Americans down the street, who originally came from Italy, as "the foreigners". Perspective is everything.If you're looking for excitement, lavish adventure, mysticism, magical realism, fast paced mystery, or even a novel with high tension or intricate plots, this isn't the book for you. But I enjoyed the gentle way Tóibín meandered through his character's lives, and the slice of Irish/ Italian immigrant life presented.more
Very touching, well-written story about a woman between two worlds. I truly liked this and read it in one day!more
For most of the book I have found it plain, but never to the point of being boring. It turns out that it has all been a set-up for some wonderful writing at the end, and Toibin does save the best stuff for last. Toibin is a master of narration and this is an example of one writer who would not compromise the quality of his English for anything. And in his almost simplistic storytelling there's a lot of depth to be admired.And, have I mentioned that the ending is simply masterfully beautiful?more
This book can be summed up in very few words: Young woman moves from Ireland to Brooklyn, has to go back to Ireland, then goes back to Brooklyn. Rather than being boring, however, it is just wonderful. Like a piece of Arts & Craft furniture, it's simple, beautiful and well-made.more
A beautiful historical novel, simply eloquent and quietly deep, that mysteriously captures the immigrant experience of a young girl sent away to do her duty for the family in America. Skillful evocation of 1950s Brooklyn and the Irish boarding house the heroine lives in there, as well as of the life and aspirations of her Italian immigrant boyfriend. Equally as skillfully, Toibin depicts the character's other life, back home in a small village in Ireland. Ultimately Eilis must choose one half of her psyche and give up the other, a choice that one feels will forever leave her split, hurting both herself and the life she must leave behind.more
This novel, about a young Irishwoman’s experiences in her birth country and the deracination she experiences when she moves to America, touched a deep chord in me. I found the observations on home-sickness and sadness beautifully measured and assured. They reminded me of my own first experiences away from home, and it is this resonant quality of Tóibín’s writing that I enjoyed most. The story is not remarkable in any way; there are no great plot twists, nor does Tóibín bother with any over-the-top scenes. In less assured hands, it could all seem very pedestrian, but Tóibín’s mastery is in making the ordinary seem extraordinary, taking a common little life and infusing it with dignity and interest.The heroine, Eilis, does not seem remarkable at all, at least initially, but through her experiences of pain and love, we come to see her as a fully rounded personality, with her own hopes and aspirations. One could easily dismiss her story as inconsequential, but that would be foolish. It is, after all, the little, seemingly inconsequential events that make up a life. And Eilis does experience monumental events in her own life, even if they do not seem so monumental to an indifferent observer.Tóibín handles Eilis’s burgeoning character expertly, especially when he describes her return to Ireland after a tragedy at home. The way he handles this tragedy, and its effects on Eilis and her family, together with a secret that Eilis has kept from her family, is truly masterly. He sets up tension without resorting to any outlandish tricks, making Eilis’s situation seem all the more universal. The book left me feeling sad at the seeming determinism of our lives, but also hopeful that we do have the ability to choose, whether for good or ill. That may seem somewhat trite, but any fiction that makes one consider your own choices in life seems, to me, to be doing something right.I found Tóibín’s unadorned style refreshing, but a bit anaemic at times. That sounds a bit contradictory, but what I am trying to say is that I enjoyed the purity of the prose, but I wanted a bit more red meat. I tend to prefer a more descriptive style of writing – not necessarily purple patches, but cross-hatched colouring. Perhaps the argument could be made that this style fits the nature of the story. Or perhaps this is just the way Tóibín always writes. Either way, this is not really a criticism, just a preference. On the whole, a beautifully understated book, which I recommended for anyone who likes thoughtful literature. I will definitely be reading more of Colm Tóibín.more
A gentle read.This was an easy read, it flowed along gently, yet it kept my interest. Although it never made five star rating for me, it was a comfortable four star and I even found myself flicking forward to find out what Eilis decided in the end :)Brooklyn is set in 1950s Ireland, where there are few jobs and many people are looking to America for a brighter future. The best Eilis has manged to secure is a Sunday-only job in a local grocery with the crotchety Miss Kelly. Then her sister, Rose, meets Father Flood, visiting from America, and he promises to find Eilis a good job, accomodation and the opportunity to study. With all the enthusiasm from Rose and their mother, Eilis has little say in the decision and before she knows it she is in a rolling liner across the ocean.Toibin excels in his descriptions of these details - the hasty preparations, the awful crossing, and then the newness of everything and the crippling homesickness.To be honest, not a lot happens, but it is the characterisations and the minuitae of life that made this book such an enjoyable read.When there is a death in the family and Eilis makes the journey home, she finds herself torn between her old life and the new. At one point I was willing her to make one decision, by the end I was truly torn.Very similar in many ways to Ellis Island by Kate Kerrigan, also a good read.more
I love books that are driven by great characters. And Eilis Lacey, the protagonist of Colm Toibin's BROOKLYN is one of the best-drawn characters I've encountered in some time. I can see why the book was such a runaway bestseller. Part of that success is due to the fact, I think, that this is a woman's book. I should emphasize that it is exactly that, a "woman's book." It is definitely NOT "chick lit," a sub-genre which certainly has its place, but is still a decidedly inferior type of book. Spoiler alert here, okay? -- The settings - both post-war Ireland and the borough of Brooklyn - are beautifully and realistically rendered, along with all of the melting-pot immigrant ambience of Brooklyn and the Jackie Robinson-era Dodgers, as well as the far-reaching influence of the Catholic Church on both sides of the Atlantic in those times. I enjoyed the book immensely, but only up to a certain point, i.e. Part Four. Then, because Toibin is so very good at portraying character, I began to slowly dislike his heroine more and more. And I didn't like her bereft and scheming mother any better. Like I said, this is a woman's book. I admire great writing, but I am still a guy. Guys hate weak, faithless women. I won't say any more. I don't wanna completely spoil things, although this book has been around for a couple years now and sold countless copies and spawned hundreds of reviews and reactions. I was so upset by the last part of this book I almost gave it only 4 stars - I even thought about a 3-star rating. But what the hell. This Toibin guy can really write. If he can create a character real enough to hate, well, I'll say it again. This guy can write. All this having been said, I wonder if there will be a sequel. He could probably write a good one. And women would eat it up. I'd probably be tempted to read it myself. Or not.more
Load more
scribd