Lynley's Reviews > Brooklyn

Brooklyn by Colm Tóibín
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's review
May 29, 2011

liked it
bookshelves: irish

I didn't find this book a tearjerker, but I suspect if you're the type to feel homesick (I've never experienced that) then you might find this story an emotional journey.

For me, there was not enough exploration into the thought processes of Eilis, the main character. This led me to wonder whether men are able to create authentic female characters. (I also wonder if women are able to create authentic male characters, and this question is unlikely to be answered so long as it's only possible to be one or the other in a single lifetime... because transgeneredness is another experience again.)

I got a bit frustrated with the amount of detail scattered throughout the prose. This was to help set the scene, and to tell us more about Eilis' character, no doubt, but I became bored with passages such as this:

Eilis found a stapler and began to attach the overtime form for each man to his normal wage sheet. She put them in alphabetical order. When she had all of them done, she went through each overtime form, calculating from the list of rates, which varied considerably depending on years of service and levels of responsibility, how much each man was owed and then adding this to his wages on the wage sheet, so that there was a single figure for each man. She wrote this figure on a separate list, which she then had to tot up to find out how much money was needed to pay the men everything they were owed. The world was straightforward because the terms were clear, and, so long as she concentrated on making no mistakes in the addition, she thought she would be able to complete the task, provided there were enough loose notes and coins in the safe.

Don't. Give. A flying. Damn.

Sure, we learn that Eilis is reliable and thorough, but this passage is on page 219 out of 252, and if the reader hasn't picked that trait up by now, they're not going to.

Still, I enjoyed the ending. I'm not sure whether this was because it was a good ending or because I'd come to the end. I think it was a mixture of both.

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