Hide this

Results from Google Books

Click on a thumbnail to go to Google Books.

Brooklyn: A Novel by Colm Toibin

Brooklyn: A Novel (edition 2010)

by Colm Toibin

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
2,7961962,089 (3.7)400
Title:Brooklyn: A Novel
Authors:Colm Toibin
Info:Publisher Unknown (2010)
Collections:Read in 2010, Bookclub, Your library

Work details

Brooklyn by Colm Tóibín

Recently added byLJBooks, private library, FOHHL, margaretbratcher, CydMelcher, _amritasharma_, BridgetBurns
  1. 60
    A Tree Grows in Brooklyn by Betty Smith (kiwiflowa)
  2. 72
    'Tis, a Memoir by Frank McCourt (bergs47)
  3. 30
    Let the Great World Spin by Colum McCann (Othemts)
  4. 10
    The Empty Family: Stories by Colm Tóibín (Christy.)
  5. 10
    Lucy Gayheart by Willa Cather (pacocillero)
  6. 10
    Someone by Alice McDermott (Ciruelo)
  7. 00
    The Walk Home by Rachel Seiffert (charl08)
  8. 11
    The Walking People by Mary Beth Keane (JGoto)
    JGoto: Irish immigrants with emphasis on family, but the story is more complex.
  9. 00
    Ellis Island: A Novel by Kate Kerrigan (DubaiReader)
  10. 00
    Girl in Translation by Jean Kwok (jayne_charles)
  11. 01
    Heaven and Hell by Jón Kalman Stefánsson (anglemark)
    anglemark: There's something about the laconic prose and the description of a young person's plight that made me associate these two books with each other.
  12. 01
    Lila by Marilynne Robinson (charl08)
    charl08: In both novels, key character faces new, difficult choices in new places. Both beautifully written, compelling.

Sign up for LibraryThing to find out whether you'll like this book.

No current Talk conversations about this book.

» See also 400 mentions

English (186)  Dutch (2)  Finnish (2)  Spanish (2)  Swedish (1)  Norwegian (1)  Catalan (1)  German (1)  All languages (196)
Showing 1-5 of 186 (next | show all)
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 |
Colm Tóibín's Brooklyn is simple storytelling at its best. This is a novel which doesn't accomplish much. It doesn't woo or provoke; it doesn't spend long developing characters or wallowing in language. It's a plot-driven story that really focuses on the story. Normally, I'm not a big fan of plot-driven fiction. For me, character is much more important and language can be a definite boon. The story here, however, is so wonderfully plotted and paced, so delicately handled, that I didn't mind the lack of additional layers. This is a novel that doesn't rely on bells and whistles. It doesn't need the added noise. Just the simple voice of an author telling a story that is beautiful and captivating. ( )
  chrisblocker | Jan 22, 2016 |
This novel won the 2009 Costa Book Award, was longlisted for the Booker Prize, and was shortlisted for the Dublin Literary Award. A film version is currently receiving rave reviews and nominations for awards.

Eilis Lacey is a young woman living in Enniscorthy in the early 1950s. She is encouraged to immigrate to Brooklyn since there are few opportunities for her in southeast Ireland. Just as she is adjusting to life in New York, she is summoned home and is then faced with a decision about where to make her home.

In many ways, the book is a character study of Eilis. She has several dominant traits; she is unsophisticated, incurious, and wants to please. She is passive, allowing others to make decisions for her. She and her sister Rose are foil characters: Rose is lively and decisive and she takes an interest in the world around her whereas Eilis, though diligent, accepts a rather dull life, happy to be more of an observer than a participant in life. Eilis reminds me of the protagonist in the short story “Eveline” in James Joyce’s The Dubliners: a passive young woman living in a stifling environment who chooses duty above her personal desires.

It is Rose who arranges for Eilis to go to the United States; that is not something she would have chosen for herself. Eilis, in fact, would have been happy with a conventional life: “Eilis had always presumed that she would live in the town all her life, as her mother had done, knowing everyone,, having the same friends and neighbours, the same routines in the same streets. She had expected that she would find a job in the town, and then marry someone and give up the job and have children. Now, she felt that she was being singled out for something for which she was not in any way prepared . . . “

Once in Brooklyn, Eilis remains docile and lets others make major decisions for her. Father Flood arranges her job and evening courses, and her landlady changes her room in the house without Eilis raising an objection. Her relationship with Tony is directed by him; she just goes along with his wishes. In virtually all instances, she takes the path of least resistance. When she returns to Ireland, Eilis allows her mother to dictate how she spends her time. Her behaviour with her friends there might seem perverse but, once again, she just goes along with plans made by others. She has reservations about those plans but allows herself to be lead in directions she would not have chosen for herself.

Some people have suggested that Eilis becomes decisive at the end, taking her own destiny into her hands, but I would argue that, again, the decision is made for her by the decisive actions of someone else, actions which leave her little option. She remains totally consistent in behaviour, choosing duty above her feelings, just as she chooses to emigrate from Ireland because she feels it is her duty and returns because “her duty lay in being at home with her mother.”

The inability or unwillingness to express one’s feelings is a major theme. Eilis, Rose, and their mother all have difficulty communicating: “they could do everything except say out loud what it was they were thinking.” Though she does not want to leave Ireland, Eilis never mentions her misgivings: “She would make them believe, if she could, that she was looking forward to America, and leaving home for the first time. She promised herself that not for one moment would she give them the smallest hint of how she felt. . .” Eilis’s letters home are full of omissions and Rose certainly keeps a big secret from her entire family. Eilis meets with her brother Angus before she departs for Brooklyn, and he too refuses to discuss his feelings of homesickness. When Eilis returns to visit, her mother asks her not “one question about her time in America, or even her trip home.”
Tóibín’s style is understated. The tone is restrained and the diction is simple, but complex emotions and complicated interactions are depicted. My one reservation about the book is its portrayal of the immigrant experience. Eilis seems to have few hardships; other than experiencing seasickness (a wonderful metaphor for the upheaval of her life) and homesickness, she adapts surprisingly easily. She quickly earns sufficient money to support herself and even treat herself. And should she have any problems, Father Flood, her landlady, and her employers are very understanding and supportive.

This author seldom disappoints. In his books, he excels at portraying the emotional lives of ordinary women, and this novel is no exception.

Please check out my reader's blog (http://schatjesshelves.blogspot.ca/) and follow me on Twitter (@DCYakabuski). ( )
  Schatje | Jan 21, 2016 |
Showing 1-5 of 186 (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.
You must log in to edit Common Knowledge data.
For more help see the Common Knowledge help page.
Series (with order)
Canonical title
Original title
Information from the Finnish Common Knowledge. Edit to localize it to your language.
Alternative titles
Original publication date
Important places
Important events
Related movies
Awards and honors
For Peter Straus
First words
Eilis Lacey, sitting at the window of the upstairs living room in the house on Friary Street, noticed her sister walking briskly from work.
Last words
(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
Disambiguation notice
Publisher's editors
Publisher series
Information from the Finnish Common Knowledge. Edit to localize it to your language.
Original language

References to this work on external resources.

Wikipedia in English (2)

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.
Haiku summary

No descriptions found.

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)

» see all 7 descriptions

Quick Links

Swap Ebooks Audio
25 avail.
304 wanted
8 pay8 pay

Popular covers


Average: (3.7)
0.5 3
1 16
1.5 4
2 39
2.5 30
3 218
3.5 107
4 390
4.5 53
5 135


5 editions of this book were published by Audible.com.

See editions

Is this you?

Become a LibraryThing Author.


Help/FAQs | About | Privacy/Terms | Blog | Store | Contact | LibraryThing.com | APIs | WikiThing | Common Knowledge | Legacy Libraries | Early Reviewers | 103,083,241 books! | Top bar: Always visible