Eilis Lacey has come of age in small-town Ireland in the years following World War Two. Though skilled at bookkeeping, she cannot find a job in the miserable Irish economy. When ...more
"She has gone back to Brooklyn...these words would come to mean less and less to the man who heard them and would come to mean more and more to herself." (hide spoiler)]
A young Irish woman emigrates to Brooklyn. Back in Ireland, she has three brothers all working in England and an older sister who will now stay home to take care of their aging mother. The older sister, who happens to be more attractive, athletic and ambitious, sacrifices her possibility of a normal married life for her younger sister. Our heroine chooses the US ...more
This is a charming, simple story about a sweet, straightforward young woman – until the final section, when it sears the reader’s heart and soars into another realm.
The first part is a delightful picture of small-town Ireland in the 1950s. The middle two parts chart Eilis’ arrival and settling in to life and study in Brooklyn. Not much happens. It’s well done, but I couldn’t see what all the fuss was about. Then she is unexpectedly summoned home. The situation and dilemmas arising could be crass ...more
Usually I read the book before seeing the movie, but in this case I saw the movie first. I screened the lovely film back in August when I wrote a cover story on Brooklyn’s star, Saoirse Ronan, for my paper’s coverage of the Toronto Film Festival. I only now caught up with the novel. I’m so glad I did. It really made me appreciate Nick Hornby’s adaptation.
In 1950s small town Ireland, Eilis Lacey has few prospects in life; ...more
To call this book a slow starter would be to evoke a drastic understatement. After around a hundred or so pages, I was beginning to wonder if this book was actually going anywhere. There was a completer lack of plot, as the mundane life of an ordinary girl unfolded in all its blandness. However, as the novel progressed it built up momentum, ever so slowly until the point where it became a heart racing crescendo of uncertainty. The true shame of this book, ...more
It was slow going throughout most of the story with a kind of monotone dialogue, and while I did find Eilis's initial trip from Ireland to America kind of fun and interesting, her life while in America was day-after-day of repetitive boredom for the reader. (at least for me)
As for Eilis herself, at first I thought she showed strength of character and heart, but by the end of the story, well.....I admit to hoping for her demise!...more
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
“Brooklyn” is a beautiful, simple book. It reminds me of the writing of Anton Chekov, just life happening. And in the hands of a skilled writer, that is enough to keep you reading. The novel moves quickly, although it covers a span of two years it is only 262 pages. Things happen, big things, without any fanfare, as they do for all of us, every day in real life.
The novel’s protagonist, Ellis Lacey, is so fully rendere ...more
I think this book means a lot to me on a personal level as it is very silimiar to my aunt's story and therefore as real as it gets for an immigrant's account and my aunt who ...more
As for Eili ...more
When I finished this novel I felt as if I had just been uprooted. Something was tearing inside me.
No, don’t think it was because the novel mesmerized me. It was something else. Strange.
The first half of the novel was an amiable read, calm. Toibin’s clear and relaxed writing and bittersweet story opened horizons.
The story of a young woman, in the nineteen fifties, who has no other prospect in her small town in Ireland but to find, almost desperately, a suitable husband, emigrates alone, to the ...more
If you have seen the movie version, a beautiful film starring Saoirse Ronan, you know the basic outline of the plot: Eilis rents a room in Brooklyn and finds a job in a shop. She becomes so homesick that she makes herself ill. She starts taking night classes, and later meets a nice boy at a dance. Eventuall ...more
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
That said, I don't get the enthusiasm some have for this novel. I kept expecting it to turn into more - more depth, more conflict, more despair or happiness or excitement or loneliness, or struggle. It didn't. It glanced at racial issues in the 1950's for a few pages, leading me to think we might get ...more
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
Original Review, posted June 7, 2009
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 ...more
This is my first Colm Toibin. I thought it would be a challenging read but I was wrong.... I sank right into the story from the start and it was beautifully written. It starts with Eilis growing up in 1950’s Ireland with her older sister, Rose. Her brothers had already moved to England to find employment.
The lack of prospects in small town Ireland is portrayed well.
When the family has a visit from an Irish American priest, things are quickly set in motion, paperwork, employment, accom ...more
▶ Well, you're about to enter the land of the free and the brave
▶ Wear your coat over your arm and look as though you know where you're going
▶ Don't look too innocent
▶ Try not to look so frightened
▶ The only thing they can stop you for is if they think you have TB, so don't cough whatever you do
▶ Brooklyn changes every day
▶ New people arrive and they could be Jewish or Irish or Polish or even coloured.
Set in the 1950's, in a time after the second world war, this relates the story of E ...more
Compared to Frank McCourt's approach, this novel took the sting out of poverty and hardship and tinted the life of a young girl leaving home in the Fifties for a foreign country, with sanguine, roseate hues. The realism of her life in transition, and her efforts to adjust ...more
(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
― Colm Tóibín, Brooklyn
Sometimes you read a book because you want to be overloaded. You want a prose whirlwind. You want maximalism and fractals and endnotes and echoes. You want to feel lost and found, buried and redeemed. This isn't that book. This is the book you read because you want serenity, peace, and ...more
Brooklyn is a 2009 novel by Irish author Colm Tóibín. It won the 2009 Costa Novel Award, was shortlisted for the 2011 International IMPAC Dublin Literary Award and was longlisted for the 2009 Man Booker Prize. In 2012, The Observer named it as one of "The 10 best historical novels".
Eilis Lacey is a young woman who is unable to find work in 1950s Ireland. Her older sister Rose organizes a meeting with a Catholic priest called Father Flood on a visit from New York City, who te ...more