This was a pleasant enough story, the kind your immigrant mother or grandmother might tell in her waning years, with the caveat that all turned out well in the end. Only, like the stories Grandma tells, it lacked the depth and tension to hold my interest for the length of a novel.
Having not read any of Colm Toibin's other works, which appear to have been prize-worthy, I can't comment on whether the shortfall here had to do with attempting to write from a female POV. Certainly other writers have managed that quite well, but here Toibin seems only to skim the surface. Events happen, but feelings about them are not explored in depth. At times the novel is peopled with various characters, none of whom, besides main character Eilis, we ever get to know, and I didn't feel I even knew her character all that well.
To me this novel was filled with missed opportunities. For example, though touched on slightly, the author seemed to have no knowledge of the deep rivalry between Italian and Irish immigrants. That Tony's mother accepted Eilis so easily--or at least it seems that way for, again, this isn't covered in depth--seems unlikely. Also, did Tony or any of his brothers fight in WWII? Some of them must have, but that never comes up. Except for the last few pages, the novel totally lacks tension, and instead goes on, page after page, with nothing more than everyday things, like going to work, going to school, going home.
Certainly this was pleasant enough, and I can't say I disliked it, but I didn't really like it either, and I'd have difficulty recommending it.
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