Brooklyn
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Brooklyn

3.61 of 5 stars 3.61  ·  rating details  ·  18,042 ratings  ·  2,832 reviews
Hauntingly beautiful and heartbreaking, Colm Tóibín's sixth novel, Brooklyn, is set in Brooklyn and Ireland in the early 1950s, when one young woman crosses the ocean to make a new life for herself.

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 -- to live and

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Hardcover, 262 pages
Published May 5th 2009 by Scribner (first published 2009)
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Catching Fire by Suzanne CollinsThe Help by Kathryn StockettCity of Glass by Cassandra ClareAn Echo in the Bone by Diana GabaldonBlood Promise by Richelle Mead
Best Books of 2009
68th out of 1,351 books — 6,702 voters
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Florence (Lefty) MacIntosh
Mar 11, 2014 Florence (Lefty) MacIntosh rated it 3 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Irish author
Recommended to Florence (Lefty) by: Will Byrnes
Quick and easy read. A coming of age story about an Irish working-class girl who immigrates all alone to Brooklyn. Simple sums it up. The protagonist, the prose, the setting, the story, right down to the 50’s era, a simpler time. Not to be confused with easy, never that. Thought Colm’s depiction of Eilis Lacey’s feelings of alienation "the rest of her life would be a struggle with the unfamiliar" & battle with depression "all of the colour had been washed out of her world" well done.
As for...more
Will Byrnes
This is a wonderful character portrait and captures as well the struggle of an Irish immigrant to the US in the post war world. Eilis Lacy is a twenty-something in a small Irish town, frustrated at the sclerotic nature of her environment. Her life lies ahead of her in a single, entirely predictable line and she feels suffocated. She wants to study, to learn accountancy, or at least bookkeeping, so she can rise a little above her lowly economic situation. Seizing an unexpected opportunity she sai...more
Steve
Brooklyn starts out as a nice little slice of life in Ireland in the early 50’s. Then Eilis, the younger of two sisters still living at home with their mother, has a whole new life arranged for her in New York. It took more than a little upper lip stiffness for a young woman to cross the stormy seas and settle in a foreign land where the only person she knew was the local priest who arranged the whole thing. Sea sickness gave way to homesickness, but her strength of character prevailed. The stor...more
Peggy L
Although I vacilated between sympathizing with the main character and wondering at her thought processes, in the end, I was disappointed in her behavior, choices and the ending of this book.
Angela
It's hard to read anything about books without hearing gushing praise for Brooklyn, so I settled in for a brilliant work about immigration and America and New York and alienation and crushing hard work and etc. Brooklyn, though, is no The Jungle or Call It Sleep. Set partially in 1950-ish Ireland and partly in Brooklyn, the novel follows spineless and benign Eilis through her voyage to the United States (arranged by her sister and a kind priest), where she receives a job, is enrolled some classe...more
David
OK, Man Booker award people, listen up! If this book doesn't win this year, you are dead to me, you hear?

I've said it elsewhere on this site, but it bears repeating. Colm Toibin is a genius. This is a man who has, on various occasions brought me inside the heads of:

• a gay man in Ireland suffering from AIDS and the women in his family ("The Blackwater Lightship")
• a compromised Argentine English teacher exploring his sexuality in the time of the fall of the military junta (“The Story of the nigh...more
Jennifer (aka EM)
A beautiful story, a careful, slow build of character. Impeccable writing - spare, intense, precise. Deceptively simple at the sentence level; yet so perfectly matched to the character Toibin is creating and the story he is telling. This writing is stunning in its simplicity and its power.

Eilis is a wonderful protagonist, whose inner conflicts are shown through her experiences. At the same time, Toibin takes us into her head and lets us see how she works through major decision points. And it's t...more
Sweetman Sweetman
Jun 01, 2010 Sweetman Sweetman rated it 1 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: no, I don't think I can
Recommended to Sweetman by: I read it because I loved "The Master" so completely
Well...it was a quick read...
I expected far more and only in minute passage did I find it.
Mr. Toibin's BROOKLYN felt rushed, a bit glossed over, too formulaic for me to honestly believe the character of Eilis Lacey (and the name bothered me as much as her lack of substance).
There were small moments of brilliance: the terse passages of what was not said, which was the most telling, yet those glimmers were rare.
I could not identify in the least with Eilis, she was so one-dimensional, barely the...more
Jeff
The premise of "Brooklyn" is not new; however, it"feels" new in Colm Toibin's capable, talented hands. I found the novel highly engaging, beautifully written, and absolutely delightful.

"Brooklyn" tells the story of Eilis Lacey, an Irish girl from a small village who emigrates to the U.S. with hopes of bettering her life and career with opportunities afforded in the new world. The young emigre's story is told with such straightforwardness and simplicity that, on the surface, it seems like a mora...more
Barbara
The subjects of immigration and maturation have been dealt with in a most compelling manner in this gentle, flowing novel by Colm Toibin. Eilis Lacey, in her late teens, has crossed the ocean alone from her small, close knit town in Ireland to a totally foreign world in Brooklyn. Toibin has deftly woven each experience in a realistic, sometimes heart rending manner. The descriptions of Eilis's homesickness are some of the most tender yet raw, sweet yet sad, completely evocative pages that I have...more
Alanna
What an interesting read. Toibin's style of writing is like nothing I've ever read before. In some ways it seems so simple, and then there'd be passages where he described his protagonist's feelings, and it was like he understood her so well it would take my breath away. And although it's a fairly simple story that often feels like it's unfolding with or without anyone deciding how things should happen (especially at the beginning, when it is decided that Eilis should go to America), I still had...more
David Carr
Brooklyn inspires me to think about the history of making choices in personal lives. At midcentury, when this book is set, the limits of free will were bounded by faith and moral judgment, by biology, guilt, and suffocating beliefs. Sin appeared in hard common parlance, yet forgiveness was more obscure. Perhaps ignorance ought to be cited as well, but it was part of the accusatory landscape, a given element of the time, like cigarettes and alcohol. People made poor choices simply to resolve ambi...more
Seán
Tóibín's greatest talent is in offering up deceptively simple tales that, on first blush, seem to be engaging yet not terribly portentous stories, but then open up wide when you realize the hidden dynamism of Colm's self-denying heroes.

I've also read The Heather Blazing and The Master, and in each Tóibín employs a laconic method of storytelling to explore the weaknesses that occlude people's vision. In The Master, Tóibín's achievement was the careful revealing of the sorrow of a repressed Henry...more
Gerard M.
This book delights at many levels. For one who grew up in the south east of Ireland in the 1950-60s it transported me back to many familiar sights, sounds, smells and moments – with uncanny accuracy. The delectation is in the detail and Colm Tóibín, a native of Enniscorthy where the book is partly set, has his details spot on. Mrs Kelly’s shop, the Sunday night dance, early Mass, the Courtown Hotel, Curracloe and Ballyconnigar strand all evoke vivid memories. The petty snobbery, importance of ap...more
Mona
Immigration to a distant and foreign land brings with the desolation of being rootless. When Eilis Lancey, a girl from a small Irish town, has her mother and sister plot to send her to Brooklyn, she finds herself lost until circumstances allow her to put some roots down in her new home across the Atlantic. When she has to go back home, again due to a change of fate, although temporarily, she feels that her new life in America is a hazy dream from which she has woken. However, she knows that once...more
Robert


Brooklyn is a quiet, conventional immigrant's tale with the focus on an Irish girl named Eilis Lacey who is fostered in her journey to America by a kindly activist priest, Father Flood, and finds work in a women's shop, then a path to advancement as a bookkeeper through a Brooklyn College night school, and then an Italian-American, Tony, with whom she doubtfully falls in love and agrees to marry before she returns to Ireland to be with her mother for a month after receiving the shocking news tha...more
Dana
I had such high hopes for this book. I was reading it while undertaking a massive change in my life, moving to a totally unfamiliar place with nothing but what I could carry. I was going to another country with nobody I knew and none of the comforts that I had always known. It started out as a comfort to be reading about someone who was doing the same thing. The only problem is that I never felt that there was a point to the story. I know that not every story is written to send a message, but I...more
Shelah
Eilis Lacey lets things happen to her. Living with her mother and sister in Ireland in the early 1950s, she takes a job she knows she's going to hate because someone offers it to her. When a priest offers to sponsor her and find her a job in Brooklyn, she leaves her home and travels to America, where she lives where he tells her to live, takes the job he finds for her, and enrolls in the night-classes he thinks will be suitable. She goes to a dance because her landlady asked her to, and meets a...more
Jacquelyn
This book is about a young woman from Ireland who moves to Brooklyn in the 1950s for more job opportunities. The book is mostly about this girl growing and finding herself in a new city. The interactions between the characters is definitely the best part of the book, since all the charaters were well developed, and their various expectations of this girl. It was very interesting to see how this girl evolved and found her place in a new country. However, I was disappointed in the last section of...more
Julie
Dec 03, 2013 Julie rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommended to Julie by: The Seattle Times
This gentle, quietly resonant novel showed me a new side of Colm Tóibín's writing. At first blush it seems a simple coming-of-age story of a young Irish immigrant alone in New York. But Tóibín, though he writes with affection, keeps enough distance from his characters to allow his reader to form opinions about the choices these characters make and the motivations behind their actions.

He shows, rather than tells, the bewilderment and liberation that are part of a willing immigrant's experience;...more
Chuck
"You can't go home again." Or can you? Perhaps it depends on where (or what) home is. Colm Tóibín explores this theme in his beautifully crafted tale of a young woman who emigrates in the 1950s from her home in Enniscorthy, Ireland to Brooklyn, New York. She struggles to make a life for herself in her new world, but just as she finds a high level of comfort in America, a family emergency summons her back to Ireland. There she finds herself deeply torn between her old home and her new one. (Yes,...more
Jeanette  "Astute Crabbist"
Marvelously simple, yet deceptively complex. The writing is remarkable for its descriptive clarity. Not one word is wasted.

I think what will determine your experience of this book is whether or not you can relate in any way to Eilis, the main character. I'm a completely different person(and I do mean completely) than I was when I was her age. As I was reading, I cast my mind back to the time I was her age and I knew I probably would have responded much the same if I had been thrown into similar...more
Maria
I found myself putting this down every so often, or pausing, just to absorb the exquisite gentleness of Toibin's prose. The story is a coming-of-age one, nothing new, yet Toibin is so adept at evoking a young woman's immigrant experience and youthful hesitation in making her way in the world, it's new again.

The author portrays a completely realistic 1950s Brooklyn, NY in all its excitement and lost-soul loneliness -- the heroine is young, nearly totally alone in her new brave life, a life foist...more
Susan
This novel was an enjoyable coming of age story about an unassuming, sheltered girl thrown into an impossible situation that over the next two years transforms her. I loved how honestly the character's thoughts and feelings were expressed. As a reader you felt as if you were truly in her head. The subtly of her changes was a favorite aspect of the book for me. So true to life. I don't believe she truly realized how much she had evolved until she was brought home again.

I'm not one who needs perf...more
Lucy Canessa
I was hugely dissapointed in this book. Amazon.com reviewer "Flibertigibbit" says it best, so I am just going to quote her here:

Brooklyn is flat and dull. This, incidentally, has little to do with Toibin's famously economical prose style - which I love. The principal problem is with characterisation. The characters are cardboard cut-out, lacking in complexity, unrealised and utterly unconvincing. The central character is so passive that it is scarcely believable and she simply can not sustain my...more
Judy
This is a deceptively slight novel, but every word and incident is carefully chosen, and I am sure it would repay rereading, as with other Tóibín books. Small everyday details gradually build to an unbearable emotional intensity.

Eilis, a young woman living in a small Irish community with limited opportunities in the 1950s, reluctantly agrees to emigrate to the US when her sister and the local priest find a job there for her. She has difficulty settling in to her job at a department store and he...more
Teresa
The young woman in this story could've been many young women, but in Toibin's talented hands is herself, a unique person. Toibin, once again, 'gets' it -- that most of anyone's life is interior, that life is filled with things that can't be articulated to even those you are the closest to. At the same time, the interaction of his wonderfully formed characters adds to making this beautifully expressed book one that I didn't want to end.
Ann
I'm about midway through this, but I don't know that I've ever read a more accurate and painful essence of homesickness--I kind of wept on the F train this morning. The description is right up there with the cinematic depictions of the mental states of drunkenness in Mean Streets and jet lag in Lost in Translation.
Leah
For a novel about one of the most evocative areas in the country, the author does of a spectacular job of not giving any sense of Brooklyn in this book. Its like he wrote about Brooklyn after a brief vacation and studying a really good map. Sure he names neighborhoods, locations (Coney Island Beach, Fulton Street, Brooklyn College), and talks about people, but you never get a feeling for this famous borough. I feel like interviewing Brooklyn old timers would give you a better picture of life in...more
Trevor
Lorena and I went to see Colm in the middle of last year when he came to Melbourne. You’d think people from Ireland would make a point of coming over here at a time more likely to have nice weather, but I guess their national pride stops that sort of thing. “For God sake, you call this a winter, do you? I’ve lived through summers in Ireland that blah, blah, blah.”

(Although I went to listen to John Banville talking the year ‘The Untouchables’ came out – also in the heart of a Melbourne winter, wi...more
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Goodreads Ireland: May-July Quarterly Irish Read 2014: Brooklyn 116 47 Jun 04, 2014 11:53AM  
Chicks On Lit: July Group Read - Brooklyn 122 160 Jul 31, 2012 05:45PM  
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(From the authors website - http://www.colmtoibin.com/content/bio... )
"Colm Toibin was born in Enniscorthy, Co. Wexford in 1955. He studied at University College Dublin and lived in Barcelona between 1975 and 1978. Out of his experience in Barcelona be produced two books, the novel ‘The South’ (shortlisted for the Whitbread First Novel Award and winner of the Irish Times/ Aer Lingus First Fiction...more
More about Colm Tóibín...
The Testament of Mary The Master The Blackwater Lightship The Story of the Night The Empty Family

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