Brooklyn Paperback – 4 Mar 2010
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With this elating and humane novel, Colm Tóibín has produced a masterwork (Sunday Times)
The most compelling and moving portrait of a young woman I have read in a long time (Zoë Heller Guardian, Books of the Year)
A work of such skill, understatement and sly jewelled merriment could haunt your life (Ali Smith TLS, Books of the Year)
Suffused with humane depth, funny, affecting, deftly plotted ... a novel of magnificent accomplishment (Peter Kemp Sunday Times, Novel of the Year)
Brooklyn moved me more than any other book this year (Nicholas Hytner Observer, Books of the Year)
A beautifully crafted work that transformed ordinary lives into something extraordinary (Daily Telegraph, Books of the Year)
No book this year gave me greater pleasure (Nell Freudenberger Financial Times)
Not a sentence or a thought out of place. It takes over as his finest ficiton to date (Irish Times)
Remarkable freshness and immediacy ... with a lovely comedic lightness (Daily Mail)
A lovely, thoughtful book ... alive with authentic detail, moved along by the ripples of affection and doubt that shape any life: a novel that offers the reader serious pleasure (Daily Telegraph)
Tremendously moving and powerful (New Statesman)
About the Author
Colm Tóibín was born in Enniscorthy in 1955. He is the author of eight novels including Blackwater Lightship, The Master and The Testament of Mary, all three of which were nominated for the Booker Prize, with The Master also winning the IMPAC Award, and Brooklyn, which won the Costa Novel Award. He has also published two collections of stories and many works of non-fiction. His most recent novel is Nora Webster. He lives in Dublin.
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Top Customer Reviews
This new book was no disappointment. in the 1950s, Eilis Lacey moves from small-town Ireland to America to work in a department store. In Brooklyn, everything is different: you can even keep the heating on at night, she writes home, with excitement. Her culture shock on arrival is so beautifully written, you feel every moment of her disorientation and terrible homesickness.
But then just as she seems finally to be settling in America, she suddenly must return home, and the gap between her two lives is revealed. Anyone who has ever had an intense experience abroad, then returned home thinking 'it seems like a dream now' must identify with Eilis. It's so delicately done, but with enormous power.
I would love to know what others thought of the ending, as that was my only reservation, but I will not discuss it here as I hate plot spoilers. Please do read this book, it's quiet, old-fashioned and brilliant.
The novel charts her uncomfortable journey there, her arrival in a strange and busy land and subsequent homesickness. We are shown a curious mix of the familiar (a boarding house full of fellow Irish emigrants with old fashioned attitudes) and the unfamiliar (different races, Italians, exotic fashions, liberal attitudes and extreme weather), creating the image that although thousands of miles from home, some things are constant and the world is a curiously small place - a theme which becomes relevant later in the book.
In time, Eilis thrives in Brooklyn - quickly building a good reputation at work, enrolling in college, passing exams with flying colours and getting a boyfriend. Finally allowed freedom, she begins to gain confidence and independence, and we see her personality develop.
After 18 months in Brooklyn, a tragedy sends her back to Ireland - a place which now seems a bit alien. Although her family and friends see a change in her, her independence is not yet fully fledged and it starts to be eroded - once again she appears to lose control of her own destiny. Her time in Brooklyn begins to feel like a strange dream that she can't share with anyone.Read more ›
I was not exactly disappointed by the book, indeed I enjoyed reading it very much, but I would say I was underwhelmed by it.
It is quite a simple and straight forward story about the experiences of a young woman who emigrates from Ireland in the 1950's to Brooklyn in New York. It is an experience shared by thousands, if not millions of Irish people over the years so there is a lot to relate to here for many people, including myself, especially for those from the generation of the main character Eilis. The story likewise is quite simply told, it is not showily overwritten but is instead rather understated and for me this was the major plus point of the book. I would imagine it captures very well and nostalgically the atmosphere of that time for people of a certain age, women especially. Toibin is quite skilled at drawing female characters, especially the girls that Eilis shares a boarding house with in Brooklyn, and when Eilis returns to Ireland after being in Brooklyn for a couple of years he captures very well the conflicting feelings inside of her at being home after being away, something many an emmigrant can sympathise with.
That said I do have to say this wasn't quite the 'outstanding' novel I was expecting. Very competent and controlled, yes, but it didn't blow me away like I was lead to believe. I actually found the character of Eilis quite irritating after a while.Read more ›
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.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
After watching the very enjoyable film , I brought the book. I liked the back story which the book fills out more and the mentioning of her brothers and the meeting with her... Read morePublished 12 days ago by Niamh
Excellent. I usyually read the book before the film but I have reversed the process in this instance and I am enjoying reading it.Published 15 days ago by Mrs. G. A. Childe
Watching the film made me want to read the book which of course has the full back story of how Eilis' trip to America came to be. Read morePublished 26 days ago by NickyP
If I thought that Nora Webster was a great read then this is even better. It is now very well known so many will know the story of the Irish girl going to New York to make her way... Read morePublished 1 month ago by MR IAN THURMAN