Customer Review

28 of 31 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A quiet novel that makes a big impact, 25 Aug 2009
This review is from: Brooklyn (Hardcover)
Brooklyn follows a young woman named Eilis as she travels from her Irish home town to New York in the early 1950s. Almost without asking, her family decides that she should move to America because she is more likely to find a good job there. Eilis struggles to adjust at first, but eventually finds her way and settles down beginning a romance with an Italian-American named Tony. Eilis brushes against social issues such as the Italian neighbourhoods versus the Irish neighbourhoods in NYC, the gradual integration of African Americans into white society, her female supervisor's latent lesbianism and her Jewish night school teacher who escaped the WWII concentration camps. But she never experiences any great conflict with these issues. Toibin manages to do something very special in this humble, quiet novel. There isn't a great deal of action. The language the author uses is engaging but simple. The characters are interesting but not extraordinary. What the author does is immerse you totally in Eilis' daily life and the small but important decisions she makes along the way which lead up to a devastatingly brilliant ending where the protagonist must make a serious heartrending choice. The lead up to this final section is very subtle so it took me by surprise and completely engrossed me.

What Toibin does so well is describe Eilis' relationships with those closest to her. He conveys how deep bonds can exist between family members even if nothing is said. The love and responsibility these characters feel for each other is expressed through small actions like writing each other letters about superficial things or sorting through old clothes together. He approaches scenes filled with a tremendous emotional intensity with a very light touch so that you almost don't realist the importance of what's happening until it's over. This is when Eilis' superficially simple life takes on a magnitude of importance.
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Showing 1-1 of 1 posts in this discussion
Initial post: 13 May 2010 23:40:38 BDT
B. Ryan says:
I have to agree totally with Eric, as I too found the book very well if simply written. I had it on holidays and found it a lovely read. He certainly captured the ethos of the 50's pretty well. Just read it and you will enjoy it.
B Ryan
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