Wednesday, October 07, 2009

Read: Brooklyn by Colm Toibin

Synopsis: 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 an Irish priest from Brooklyn to sponsor Eilis in America -- to live and work in a Brooklyn neighborhood "just like Ireland" -- she decides she must go, leaving her fragile mother and her charismatic sister behind.
Eilis finds work in a department store on Fulton Street, and when she least expects it, finds love. Tony, a blond Italian from a big family, slowly wins her over with patient charm. He takes Eilis to Coney Island and Ebbets Field, and home to dinner in the two-room apartment he shares with his brothers and parents. He talks of having children who are Dodgers fans. But just as Eilis begins to fall in love with Tony, devastating news from Ireland threatens the promise of her future.
By far Tóibín's most instantly engaging and emotionally resonant novel, Brooklyn will make readers fall in love with his gorgeous writing and spellbinding characters.

It was a good Sunday for reading. As the husband watched Transformers 2, I finished Brooklyn. It's been a while since I've read a book that I couldn't put down. However, it didn't quite start out that way. I'd begun the book a few days earlier, and then it lay on the table next to my hairdryer as my attention fell to other reads. I think this was largely because of Eilis' passiveness. The story begins in Ireland and like everyone else in their town, I was more interested in Rose, who is capable and charming. Plain little Eilis pales in comparison to her sister.

However, the story picks up when Eilis leaves for Brooklyn - mostly because she can't say no. And it is a moving one at that. Brooklyn is an immigrant's tale, one of longing and homesickness and of trying to fit in with her new residence - something I could definitely relate to. I couldn't help but like Eilis. There was a sweet gentleness and vulnerability about her, and she grows on the reader, as does this gem of a book. I look forward to reading more by Colm Toibin!

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