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

17 comments:

  1. I love immigrant stories, so this sounds right up my alley!

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  2. Oh, gosh! I thought this was a memoir (which I love); I'm so glad I read your review, Diane. Since I'm of Irish descent (although we came into Boston), I'm interested in reading BROOKLYN. Thanks for setting me straight!

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  3. Brooklyn's history and this book sound intriguing. My mother was born in Brooklyn--I wonder if I should get her this book as a gift?

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  4. I've read quite a few mixed reviews of this book but I'm intrigued by it. I love immigrant stories so I'm putting it on my list!

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  5. My book club is going to be reading this and I can't wait!

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  6. I've yet to read anything by Colm Toibin, although I did get the chance to meet him a few years ago at a book festival. He really impressed me. This sounds like a great book to start with. I'll have to look it up. Thanks for the great review, Diane.

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  7. I would definitely read this. I love reading about New York in any time period. I hope to get there one day.

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  8. I have read nothing but great reviews for this book. Being a lover of NYC - I think I can relate to the characters and storyline in a personal way. It is definitely a book that I hope to read sometime this year.

    Thanks for the great review!

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  9. Brooklyn was my recent introduction to Toibin, too. Now I'm looking for a copy of The Blackwater Lightship.

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  10. This sounds so good...on the list it goes!

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  11. I think I selected this one as one of my Friday Finds one month. It looked good then, but it looks even better now after reading your review.

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  12. Myself being an immigrant,I love immigrant stories..I would definitely check this out.

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  13. I really enjoy books about the immigrant experience, particularly during this time period. It looks like this was a great book for you, and like something I would probably like as well. Great review!

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  14. Thank you for what you said about the ending. That helps decide me to read it! I've been pondering it for a while now.

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  15. I read another book by Toibin last year (I think). This is going on my TBR list. Great review, Diane!

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  16. This sounds excellent ... I love character-drive stories. Especially ones with good endings. :-)

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  17. This sounds interesting. I love character driven novels. I mean, getting to know interesting characters is part of why I read in the first place! I'll have to check this one out!

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