Wednesday, September 9, 2009
139 - Brooklyn; Colm Toibin
Brooklyn, by Colm Toibin, is a story that centers around a young woman named Eilis Lacey. Eilis lives in a small town in Ireland, along with her recently widowed mother, and her older sister Rose. Where Rose is fun-loving and out-going, Eilis is quiet and reserved. In Ireland, Eilis is studying to be a bookkeeper, and although she is doing well with classes, she has difficulty finding a decent job in Ireland, like her sister Rose.
When Father Flood, a priest visiting Ireland from the United States, meets Eilis and her family, he offers to sponsor Eilis in the US. Father Flood has a small parish in Brooklyn, and he promises to find Eilis, a good job working in a store there, as well as a place to stay with other women her age. Shy and afraid to leave the life she is comfortable with, her sister Rose encourages her to go, and tells her it would be a wonderful opportunity for her. She reluctantly agrees.
On the boat to America the nervous anticipation of the unknown quickly sets in. Once she arrives and gets settled at the boarding house, she soon begins getting letters from home, which make her even more homesick. Father Flood keeps her busy with work, suggesting she enroll in classes at the local college, and attending parish dances. At one of the dances she meets a young Italian man named Tony, who is immediately attracted to Eilis. They soon start spending time together and enjoying each other's company. When bad news arrives from Ireland, Eilis, decides she must return home for a while, but not before, she fulfills a secret request to Tony.
I really enjoyed this character driven novel from beginning to end, and without giving spoilers, I thought the ending was great. The author does a great job painting a vivid picture of 1950's Brooklyn, New York. What it was like for immigrants in America at that time, and the discrimination experienced by Jews, Blacks, Irish, Italians etc. This author is new to me, but I now plan to read more by him soon. RECOMMENDED