A Novel

Tibn, Colm, 1955-

(Book - 2009)
Average Rating: 2 stars out of 5.
Colm Tibn'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.
Publisher: New York : Scribner, 2009
Edition: 1st Scribner hardcover ed
ISBN: 9781439148952
Branch Call Number: FIC T
Characteristics: 262 p. ; 22 cm.


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May 31, 2014
  • gracindaisy rated this: 2 stars out of 5.

An Irish woman emigrates to America and starts a new life in Brooklyn, secretly marries her boyfriend, then returns to Ireland after her sister’s sudden death. Back in Ireland, she meets another man and must decide whether to return to the US.

Dec 07, 2013
  • abroomfi rated this: 4 stars out of 5.

I turned to this novel because I have heard so much lately about Colm Toibin. Its simple story line can trick readers into thinking that not much is going to happen. A young Irishwoman, Eilis, is convinced by her widowed mother and Rose to come to the United States because her small town does not promise her a prosperous future; hence, she does what hundreds of thousands of Europeans--particularly Irish--have done before her: she sails for New York, and through the help of a priest finds a room in a Brooklyn boarding house as well as a job as a shop girl in a large department store. What sets the narrative apart is that it is a story of Irish immigration _after_ World War II, rather than during the 1840s and 1850s when so many Irish came to North America.

Eilis's success in Brooklyn, including obtaining her certificate in bookkeeping from Brooklyn College, gaining respect as a shop assistant, and beginning to fall in love with a "better than gold" Italian man, easily lulls readers into thinking that the plot is rather dull, even boring. It is the final part of the novel when complications begin to set in, some of which are the result of Eilis's youth and naivety, and some which speak more universally to the immigrant experience of how painful and compromising it can be to leave one homeland and create a meaningful life in another.

Ultimately, I do not think this story is really about the plot or even really that much about Eilis. She becomes a sort of Everywoman, and as such, Toibin's novel works as a tribute or perhaps even a memorial, to the collective memories of all immigrants who make it to the United States and stay. It is a story of how their sacrifices, pain, and ambivalence towards their new homeland ultimately create an American identity, one that is more complicated but also richer than the more simplistic, patriotic story lines that Americans are used to hearing and accepting.

Nov 15, 2013
  • madison382 rated this: 2.5 stars out of 5.

This book was just okay.

Aug 15, 2013
  • WMorello rated this: 5 stars out of 5.

I loved the characters in this book. Knowing Brooklyn as well as I do, it was clear the writer didn't because it seemed to be written "from the other side" out of the heroine's letters. That fact did not mar the writing of this beautiful story. Hated putting it down; mourned not hearing more about her

Jul 21, 2013
  • Jane60201 rated this: 2.5 stars out of 5.

Don't know what's supposed to be so great about this book. I thought it was just "ok." The decision as to whether to stay or go seemed lacking in emotion.

Apr 14, 2013
  • modestgoddess rated this: 4 stars out of 5.

I thought this was just masterfully done. Everything was a slow build to the ultimate decision, which seemed forced on Eilis by the gossipy, mean-spirited Irish shopkeeper - but if it hadn't been for that gossipy, mean-spirited shopkeeper, who knows if Eilis would have come to do the honourable thing on her own? Told with a flat affect which reminded me a bit of some of Muriel Spark's work, so I'm not surprised some people commented on its seeming "flat". You do have to let what's being said "sink in" before you realize the import of what's going on. Poor Eilis - in some ways, a grown-up "series of unfortunate events" (with some fortunate ones too, of course).

Jul 15, 2012
  • HELEN M. ZSUTTY rated this: 4 stars out of 5.

A sweet, heartwarming story set in post WW2 Ireland and Brooklyn. Eilis Lacey lives in Ireland with her Mother and older sister; she is unable to find any job other then in a shop although she is very good with business math. A priest from USA comes to her village and offers to sponsor her if she will emigrate to Brooklyn, work in a retail store and take accounting classes in the evening.

This is a very simply written story yet I felt that I was almost in Eilis's mind and could feel and understand her deep homesickness and loneliness. She eventually meets a young Italian man, Tony, and they begin a courtship. Tony was my favorite character and the descriptions of their relationship and his family were also my favorite part of the story.

Jul 06, 2012
  • Baxter1 rated this: 2 stars out of 5.

Easy read. Reveals interesting emigree quandaries, though never got a clear visual of protagonist.

Jan 17, 2012
  • BrigidScott rated this: 3.5 stars out of 5.

a little on the "fluff" side, yet I coulden't put it down.

Sep 29, 2011
  • queensgirl1963 rated this: 4 stars out of 5.

A nice coming of age story about an Irish immigrant in the post WWII days. Eilis the main character was a thoughtful and conservative person - careful of everything she did and said to her friends and relatives. I expected a different end to the book, it certainly made me read it quickly to see what would happen. I would recommend it as a book club book as well.

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Sep 07, 2012
  • universalPuppy rated this: 3 stars out of 5.

Some people are nice and if you talk to them properly, they can be even nicer.


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