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Brooklyn Paperback – September 8, 2015
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“Tóibín … [is] his generation’s most gifted writer of love’s complicated, contradictory power.” (Floyd Skoot, Los Angeles Times)
“A classical coming-of-age story, pure, unsensationalized, quietly profound… There are no antagonists in this novel, no psychodramas, no angst. There is only the sound of a young woman slowly and deliberately stepping into herself, learning to make and stand behind her choices, finding herself.” (Pam Houston, O, the Oprah Magazine)
“Reading Tóibín is like watching an artist paint one small stroke after another until suddenly the finished picture emerges to shattering effect…. Brooklyn stands comparison with Henry James’s The Portrait of a Lady.” (The Times Literary Supplement (U.K.))
"[A] triumph… One of those magically quiet novels that sneak up on readers and capture their imaginations." (USA Today)
About the Author
Colm Tóibín is the author of seven novels, including The Master, winner of the Los Angeles Times Book Prize; Brooklyn, winner of the Costa Book Award; The Testament of Mary, and Nora Webster, as well as two story collections. Three times shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize, Tóibín lives in Dublin and New York.
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The writing is very descriptive, I now understand why a lot of reviewers would have found it boring at the beginning as I would have too. Luckily, since I've watched the movie, I can picture the scenes in my mind and am able to enjoy the beautiful writing. Am glad to read that the heroine also had brothers as I was sad to see their mom alone in the movie. Also excited to read descriptions about Enniscorthy, Co Wexford as that's where our very good Irish friends live and now I really want to visit.
Like earlier reviewers, I agree that the book ending left me hanging - that's why I removed 1 star. I hate stories with hanging endings! My real life sucks so I want full happy endings with each fictional story I get into, lol. So glad the movie decided to go further instead of leaving it to the watcher's imagination. Wish they'd make a revised version the book with the extended ending, or perhaps add an epilogue :).
My husband commented that this book did not truly depict the hardships of a lone immigrant. I do not believe that an immigrant's experience was the object of this story. If so, this would have been a sad documentary. In my opinion, this book is about a young lady's experiences, what she felt and the choices she made; she just happened to be an immigrant.
I've re-read the book 2x now, thanks to the movie playing in my mind, and am looking forward to the dvd as well. If you find the book boring in the beginning, try to catch the movie first then read the book.
The story is set soon after the Second World War and lets us know something about life in Ireland and New York City during those days. This country was welcoming immigrants and they were coming and helping create our growing culture of diversity, many ready to work with needed skills. Eilis travels from Ireland, where she could not find work, to New York, where work was available as well as other advantages, like college courses for career training, and church organized dances for meeting other young people. Thus Eilis finds a new life, even while dealing with sometimes debilitating homesickness.
In the 1950s Elis leaves her native Ireland to move to New York where her prospects for employment and a better life are greater. Initially she is homesick for her mother and sister back in Ireland but the greater prosperity of Brooklyn and her falling in love change her life. Her sister dies and she returns to Ireland for an intended brief visit to comfort her mother. Back in Ireland she appreciates her original country more with its simpler attractive way of life and becomes attracted to a local man. The final chapter is dominated by her difficulty in deciding to return to the US or stay in Ireland.
This story embodies ideas and feelings that many must of felt in the great migration from Ireland and Europe to the US and other countries like my own country, Australia. It is a story of one person Eilis Lacey but many would have been through similar torments.
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BROOKLYN starts in Ireland.Read more