Brian's Reviews > Brooklyn

Brooklyn by Colm Tóibín
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Aug 30, 11

Read in August, 2011

Set in the 1950s, partly in Enniscorthy, Ireland, and partly in Brooklyn USA, this is the story of Eilis, a young woman who emigrates from her homeland because of the lack of opportunities. In both Ireland and America she finds herself emotionally entangled with men who want to marry her and she has to make a choice.

That's more or less the whole plot. Nevertheless, this is the best book I've read for ages. It's beautifully written with such clarity and attention to detail. I was reminded at times of Jane Austen, which sounds absurd because Austen is so English and Toibin is so Irish. But it's the way he analyses with such meticulous patience the processes by which society imposes choices upon people, particularly upon women, the arbitrariness of fate and the patterns into which we fall.

I absolutely loved this book. In my opinion Toibin belongs in the first rank of living writers. He deals with the inner workings of the human heart with such precision. It's like watching a master-surgeon at work.
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