Brooklyn: A Novel

Colm Toibin
“One of the most unforgettable characters in contemporary literature” (Pittsburgh Post-Gazette), Eilis Lacey has come of age in small-town Ireland in the hard years following World War Two. When an Irish priest from Brooklyn offers to sponsor Eilis in America, she decides she must go, leaving her fragile mother and her charismatic sister behind. Eilis finds work in a department store on Fulton Street, and when she least expects it, finds love. Tony, who loves the Dodgers and his big Italian family, slowly wins her over with patient charm. But just as Eilis begins to fall in love, devastating news from Ireland threatens the promise of her future.


Reviewed: 2020-07-16
Reviewed: 2016-07-30

I’m not entirely sure how I feel about this book. I mean, I like it, but I can definitely see why people wouldn’t. At 262 pages, it’s a fairly quick read. The writing style is fairly simple and it kind of grew on me after a while. The plot is fairly simple, the story of a girl who immigrates simply because the opportunity is presented to her. It follows her story as Eilis, our protagonist, deals with homesickness. While I can see why people would get frustrated with her and how she handles her depression, I actually thought it to be quite realistic. When she is confronted with the possibility of having to return to Ireland permanently, and leave behind the life she has only just built up, I thought her dilemma, and how she responded to it, to be fairly realistic as well.

I have read criticisms saying that Eilis is responsible for the difficult situations she ends up in, and I agree. However, the choices she made were made during a time of personal duress and grief, so I can understand why she made those choices. She put off stuff until it piled up, she made bad choices, but she’s a woman who has only just left home for the first time, and I doubt a whole lot of college kids would have handled the whole thing any better.

Rating 3.5/5 stars

I quite enjoyed the book and I related to Eilis, about having to leave home and go into the world on her own, and being faced with the prospect of moving back once you’ve built your life. It was short and sweet, and it’s been a while since I’ve read something so pleasantly calm and short. It’s a good book if you want a quick read, and I do recommend it.

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