A Novel

Toibin, Colm

eBook - 2009
Average Rating: 3.5 stars out of 5.
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 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. "A classical coming-of-age story, pure, unsensationalized, quietly profound." -- Pam Houston, O, the Oprah Magazine "A beautifully rendered portrait of Brooklyn and provincial Ireland in the 1950s... Toibin writes about women more convincingly, I think, than any other living, male novelist." -- Zoe Heller, author of The Believers "A compelling characterization of a woman caught between two worlds... A fine and touching novel, persuasive proof of Tóibín's ever-increasing skills and range." -- Booklist (starred review) "[A] masterly tale... There is not a sentence or a thought out of place." -- Irish Times "Colm Toibin leads a generation of Irish novelists... His generation's most gifted writer of love's complicated, contradictory power." -- Los Angeles Times "Toibin's prose is as elegant in its simplicity as it is complex in the emotions it evokes." -- The New York Times Magazine "Reading Tóibín is like watching an artist paint one small stroke after another until suddenly the finished picture emerges to shattering effect." -- The Times Literary Supplement (U.K.) "A quiet masterpiece." -- The Express (U.K.)

ISBN: 1439149828


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Mar 05, 2015

May 4, 2014 review tells the whole story, really!!

Dec 01, 2014
  • occy rated this: 5 stars out of 5.

What a wonderful read. First Toibin novel I've read and I plan to pick up a couple more of his books.

Loved the characters and it moved along very smoothly but with a nice little twist to the ending.

Highly recommend it.

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 19, 2013
  • mrsgail5756 rated this: 3 stars out of 5.

A very good read. A very interesting subject. At times rather sad. I highly recommend this book for all to read.

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

This book was just okay.

Oct 08, 2013
  • MissEavis rated this: 2.5 stars out of 5.

I liked the book, but I found myself not liking Eilis much by the end. The story was a bit dry, and i felt the ending was bit of a let down.

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).

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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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