Wednesday, December 02, 2015

First Wednesday Book Review Club




Brooklyn, Colm Toibin

This is a very fine novel that I was resistant to reading for a long time. It sat on my shelf despite the urging of several friends who loved it. But after seeing the movie, I wanted to read the book. And I am glad that I did. 
There are no jobs to be had in Eilis Lacey's hometown in Ireland. Reluctantly she sets sail for New York where a priest has secured her a job and place to live. She is nearly overwhelmed by homesickness--and I don't think I ever read such a great description of it--but eventually settles into her new life and finds a beau. A sudden death calls her home again and she must decide where her future lies.
What makes this novel work so well is how much inside the head of his character Toibin gets. And I am truly amazed at how well he does a female voice. And how well he seems to understand how a girl feels about a multitude of issues.
Eilis is utterly believable as a very nice girl with very nice friends and a very nice family. The descriptions of Brooklyn life in the fifties are terrific. 
If I found one flaw in the book, it would be there was so little conflict or strife for Eilis. I am sure an immigrant coming here with no friends of family to succor them would find life a lot harder. And the ending is perhaps too swift.
But this is a small flaw in a wonderful novel.  


For more review, check with Barrie Summy right here.  

14 comments:

Deb said...

I haven't read this, but I strongly recommend Toibin's fictionalized life of Henry James, THE MASTER.

Rose said...

I've been wanting to see this movie, but now I think I'll wait until I've read the book first. Anything set in Ireland appeals to me. Thanks for the recommendation; I might not have found this book otherwise.

George said...

Deb's right about THE MASTER. Great novel! I've heard the movie changes the ending that was presented in the book.

Margot Kinberg said...

I've heard good things about this one, Patti. I'm glad you enjoyed it. Perhaps I'll put this one on the reading list...

pattinase (abbott) said...

Phil loved The Master and now I am going to read it.
The ending was pretty much the same although the movie had one last scene, which was nice. The book was more ambivalent at the end, I thought.

Jeffrey Meyerson said...

I've been meaning to read this one (partly for obvious reasons) but like you was resistant. I'll get it now.

pattinase (abbott) said...

Yes, I will be curious to see how familiar some of it is. Set in the fifties so not too long ago.

Stacy said...

I didn't know this was a book, but I have been interested in seeing the movie. Thanks for the review.

Barrie said...

I haven't read this or seen the movie. Would you recommend an order, Patti? I love books about Irish immigrants because that's what my parents were. Thanks for reviewing!

Linda McLaughlin said...

Thanks for the review. I didn't realize the movie was based on a book, but I want to see/read Brooklyn.

pattinase (abbott) said...

I would recommend it for those who don't require a lot of action. It is quiet and lovely.

Sarah Laurence said...

I haven't seen the movie yet because I feel like I should read the book first, especially after reading your review.

Cloudbuster said...

Thanks for reviewing this. Colm Toibin is something of a genius. I'm glad you had such a positive reaction!

Jennifer A. Jilks said...

Thanks, it's on my list!