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Brooklyn
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on 12 March 2016
I absolutely love this book and give it 5*, which I rarely do. For me, 5* means true excellence. There is a spareness to Tóibín’s writing which includes essential detail and excludes extraneous. I would not wish a single word to be changed or paragraph to be deleted, no passages seem surplus to requirement or confusing, no characters’ names are forgotten. There is no dramatic action, no mystery, no cliffhanger, simply the story of a young Irish girl who goes to Brooklyn and what happens to her there. Yes there is romance, but not in the commercial fiction sense of the term. Romance is just one element of the story.
It is 1950s rural Ireland. It is arranged by her elder sister and a family priest, that Eilish should go to America. It is deemed she has few prospects in Ireland. ‘Brooklyn’ is a wonderful portrayal of 1950s Ireland and America, the attitudes, the social mores, the prejudices.
The drama comes from observing Eilish’s every step, her every thought, wondering what she will do next. The drama is in the small things. She feels so real. I wanted to say, ‘take a risk’ and ‘don’t’ and ‘go for it’. From the first few pages I was reeled in until I could not put the book down.
This is the sort of book which, having finished it, I almost wish I hadn’t read it; only so I can re-read it again as if it is the first time. It is not a new novel, it was published in 2009 and won the Costa Novel Award that year. It is now a film, which I haven’t seen. I’m not sure whether to, worrying that the film will spoil the book.
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on 6 August 2017
After reading The Testament of Mary (which I did not enjoy!) I never thought I would give Mr Tóibín another chance. And was very surprised when "Brooklyn" ended on my bookshelf.

Roller-coaster of emotions! "Brooklyn" the book rode me through bewilderment, to strong irritation, then over to acceptance and, in the end, powerful enjoyment. I was moved. As soon as I finished the book I ran to rent the film, that's how much I enjoyed it. Everything is so simple, good-hearted, nice. Brooklyn [DVD] [2015] (the film) is such an easy and yet heartbreaking watch. Everything you expect, based on the book, but so pretty. Take the scenes from the Irish coastline - magnificent!
And that Irish drawl!

To conclude: un-put-downable (I was surprised!). This coming of age tale touches all the important aspects: think about your actions, be prepared to account for what you did and your choices. Also: for a very long while I have not read a book which described love so simply and yet was so moving. Oh the bittersweet broken hearts!

If you feeling sad and melancholy - recommended.

Four solid stars to both the book and the film.
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TOP 1000 REVIEWERon 5 July 2017
Eilis, with the help of her sister Rose and Father Flood, a local priest home from his parish in Brooklyn, emigrates to America. Father Flood finds her a room to rent and a job in a store. She is studying bookkeeping and has been promised better work when her evening classes are finished. She meets a young man of Italian extraction at a dance and falls for him.

The story is very atmospheric, both in the Irish and the American settings, and well describes the period. I found it a little slow to start but soon became drawn into Eilis’s life and loves. Several times I could have shaken her but this, to me, is good and believable writing. The ending, though, was a little abrupt and unsatisfying. I would have liked to know more of how her decision unfolded.
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on 15 April 2017
To me, in many ways, this book is a tribute to all the young Irish who left their roots to take the long journey and resettled in the USA. Colm's wonderful words, conflicting emotions, & description of Brooklyn (which is now a trendy place to live) must have been so close to the pain they felt but the fact is they did very well on the East coast, built up close communities worked hard and lived a good life so very few moved back. Great book reminding us of the huge sacrifices made by waves of people facing an uncertain future way before the 1950's.
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on 29 September 2016
Bought for my partner as she adores the film. Definitely went down well as I didn't hear anything from her until she finished it. I therefore read it myself and found it a really engaging story with strong characters. Toibin has a real talent for making a story so grounded carry weight and some sections are quite profound.
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on 12 December 2015
As with all Colm Toibin's books this is beautifully written. There are no wasted words. The story though seemed thin. Irish girl goes to America, feels homesick, meets nice young man, comes back to Ireland to help in a crisis, goes back to America. All a bit predictable, all a bit 'so what'? The usual stifling bigotry is there, and the desire to break free, but there just did not seem to be enough originality to carry the story.

Will try other unread Toibin novels, but found this one a little disappointing.
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on 1 April 2014
I really enjoyed this book. The story kept me interested and guessing throughout. Although a simple story line, and not my usual choice of reading, the book kept me wanting to read more. Having a great love of the USA, I spent my 21st birthday in Manhattan, and an even greater love of Eire I could identify with the situations, the different cultures coupled with the aspirations and dreams of the young heroine. The ending kept me guessing and could have gone either way. Books ought to provoke thought and just how people come to terms with and overcome the difficulties that life throws their way. This is the first book I have read by this author but I will read him again and praise his efforts to other readers within my coterie of friends.
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on 15 April 2018
This is a beautiful film which tells the story of a young Irish girl Eilis , who seeks work in 1950s Brooklyn, where she struggles at first with homesickness and the unfamiliarity of her surroundings Gradually, while.attending college to improve her job prospects, and happy with her sweet- natured Italian- American boyfriend, she seems to have found contentment., However a family tragedy forces her to return to Ireland, where she becomes involved with an attractive young man in the town she grew up in She is faced with choosing between the old world and the new, between a return to the familiar places of her past, and the challenge of a bright future in America. It is a touching story, charmingly told, and superbly acted. Emory Cohen in particular is outstanding as Tony Fiorello.
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on 24 October 2013
My ex housemate bought this for herself on a computer that I must have been the last person to sign in to Amazon on, so without realising she bought it on my account! Which of course means I bought it in actual fact.
I got my money's worth. I loved Colm Tóibín's characterisations, there was real warmth and heart in the story. I was disappointed in the ending but it was a proper ending, I can't say more without spoiling it. I loved the sense of this could almost be any time in the past 100 years too almost. It was incredibly well done, literary and engaging.

Excellent reading for escape on your commute or in an armchair while the rain pours down the windows outside!
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VINE VOICEon 26 February 2016
After seeing (and loving) the film, I thought I would read the book. Usually I find that the book provides a deeper and richer experience than a film, but in this case, I thought the film was better. The sections that contain dialogue are great, but there are lengthy descriptive passages which I found too dry. The book is better than the film at describing Eilis' sense of alienation when she is first living in Brooklyn, but the film is much more luminous with hope and promise than the book.
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