Hubert's Reviews > Brooklyn

Brooklyn by Colm Tóibín
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's review
Jan 18, 2011

it was ok
bookshelves: new-york, fiction, cambridge-book-club
Recommended for: American post-War enthusiasts.
Read in February, 2011 , read count: 1

Tóibín’s novel carries much emotional finesse, yet ultimately there isn’t enough “umph” to sustain reader interest.

This story of a young, naïve, insecure girl, Eilis, who emigrates to Brooklyn from rural Ireland to look for work and possibly a husband contains a fairly straightforward plot. Tóibín’s storytelling techniques consist of straightforward, lucid prose narration, and at oftentimes beautiful in its simplicity. But the story moves much too lugubriously, a little like watching an ant crawl across ice.

While Tóibín’s goal is to immerse the reader into the mindset of Eilis, reading about her overly self-aware thoughts becomes much too gnawing. The stock characters of the supporting cast (jealous boardinghouse mates, Italian boyfriend / partner, the supportive priest) act tiresomely and in predictable ways.

For a novel entitled Brooklyn, set in the 1950s, I would expect that the city would take on a more vibrant role, almost like another character in the novel.

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