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Brooklyn: A Novel by Colm Toibin

Brooklyn: A Novel (edition 2010)

by Colm Toibin

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2,8061992,079 (3.7)401
Title:Brooklyn: A Novel
Authors:Colm Toibin
Info:Scribner (2010), Edition: 1st, Paperback, 272 pages
Collections:Your library
Tags:apt, fic

Work details

Brooklyn by Colm Tóibín

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English (188)  Dutch (2)  Finnish (2)  Spanish (2)  Swedish (1)  Norwegian (1)  Catalan (1)  German (1)  All languages (198)
Showing 1-5 of 188 (next | show all)
It’s a story of a young Irish woman having to immigrate to America and of the two first years of her living and working in a foreign country. When tragic events bring her back to her hometown, she is suddenly forced to face all the consequences of her decisions made far from home.
I really liked this book from the very first pages. I thought it was beautifully and skillfully written, in a way that brings out a lot of emotion while telling the story in quite a dry, almost removed way. Having lived in Ireland for many years, I also thought it was a great representation of Irish culture, characters and sense of humour.
I’m sure this book will not be everybody’s cup of tea; in fact I disapproved of many of the main character’s decisions. Yet I found her quite likeable and felt sorry for her when she was at her lows. Overall an interesting and probably quite relatable story for many out there. Add to this simple and beautiful language and author’s great command of English, and you’ll get a book that is quite hard to put down. ( )
  justine28 | Feb 13, 2016 |
The novel is enjoyable enough, though I found the author picked and dropped themes a number of times: commercial law, the Holocaust, baseball, finally settling on romance, which I found a path, way overused. The prose is sparse leaving the reader to fill in the blanks, like the characters and the time when the story takes place, but the plot is weighty enough to propel it forward. ( )
  charlie68 | Feb 10, 2016 |
I liked the book, but I was expecting to love it. I really liked the whole novel about coming to America and learning to live in America. Then it quickly had some fairly graphic sex scenes, which seemed a bit out of place. I also was not as impressed by the end of the book when she travels back to Ireland. (Don't want to write to much and spoil the story). ( )
  KamGeb | Feb 5, 2016 |
I struggled with this - it's eminently readable, but there was just something flat and passive about the whole story. This is partly the fault of the main character, Eilis, who is completely incapable of taking charge of her life at any stage of the story. She moves from Ireland to the US because her family pushes her into it, falls in love with a guy because he likes her, goes back to Ireland because her brother tells her she should, and so on and so on. It's obviously intentional, but it left me unable to sympathise much with the character and largely uninterested in what happened to her. I'm sure I'm missing something, but this just didn't work for me. ( )
  mjlivi | Feb 2, 2016 |
This slim novel is set in the early 1950s. Eilis is just finishing her studies, living at home in a small town in Ireland with her widowed mother and older sister, Rose. Her three brothers have all gone to England for work. Rose encourages Eilis to get more training in bookkeeping, so she might have a good office job one day, and Eilis goes along with this plan. When an opportunity presents itself for Eilis to go to America for a better job, Rose encourages her to do so. The parish priest sees to it that she has a safe rooming house in which to live, a good job, and even gets her into Brooklyn College to continue her studies in bookkeeping. She’s a lonely girl, however. Never really confiding in anyone about her thoughts or feelings, she even denies most of her thoughts and feelings to herself. She meets a young man who slowly begins to enter her life and heart, but just as they are beginning to consider a future together, tragedy strikes Eilis’s family back in Ireland and she must go home for a visit. Or is she going back to Ireland to stay?

There isn’t a terribly complicated plot here, and the writing is fairly simple and straightforward. But there is plenty of tension in Eilis’s inner turmoil. She’s never sure how she feels, or what she should do, and, as a result, she’s easily swayed by the arguments or cajoling of her coworkers, roommates, friends, or family. She does not want to disappoint anyone, and so she inevitably disappoints nearly everyone – especially herself.

The novel explores what it means to emigrate – the pain of leaving home behind vs the excitement of a new location; the warm embrace of family vs the loneliness of living on one’s own in a strange place. It is also a story about how one young woman sets out to make a life for herself – and wonders if she’s made the right choices.

I enjoyed this novel and I think it will make for a good discussion at my F2F book club, but I can’t give it more than 3 stars because I didn’t connect with Eilis. That is intentional, I think, on the author’s part. Eilis is written as a very cautious young woman, who keeps her thoughts and emotions carefully hidden from others – including the reader. The result is a book that I appreciate but don’t “love.” ( )
  BookConcierge | Jan 28, 2016 |
Showing 1-5 of 188 (next | show all)
Ultimately, Brooklyn does not feel limited. Tóibín makes a single incision, but it’s extraordinarily well-placed and strikes against countless nerve-ends. The novel is a compassionate reminder that a city must be made of people before it can be made of myths.
In tracking the experience, at the remove of half a century, of a girl as unsophisticated and simple as Eilis — a girl who permits herself no extremes of temperament, who accords herself no right to self-assertion — Toibin exercises sustained subtlety and touching respect. . .

In “Brooklyn,” Colm Toibin quietly, modestly shows how place can assert itself, enfolding the visitor, staking its claim.
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Eilis Lacey, sitting at the window of the upstairs living room in the house on Friary Street, noticed her sister walking briskly from work.
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Book description
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.
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It is Enniscorthy in the southeast of Ireland in the early 1950s. Eilis Lacey is one among many of her generation who cannot find work at home. Thus when a job is offered in America, it is clear to everyone that she must go.

(summary from another edition)

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