Friday, July 31, 2020

FFB-BROOKLY, Colm Toibin



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. 

9 comments:

Margot Kinberg said...

An excellent choice for FFB, Patti. And I know just what you mean about books that sit so long on the shelf, but that you finally get a chance to read. More than once I've wondered what took me so long to read a particular book...

Jeff Meyerson said...

I agree 100%. I really liked the movie. Saoirse Ronan was terrific, and deserved her Oscar nomination as Best Actress, though she lost. I wanted to read the book too (I mean, come on, BROOKLYN) and eventually did. The movie's end might be more satisfying, but overall both are definitely recommended.

pattinase (abbott) said...

She really is a star, isn't she? Good in every film and such a long career ahead of her.
And I have another book by him sitting on my shelf i must get to.

George said...

I'm with Jeff. Loved the movie with Saoirse Ronan. Enjoyed the book, too.

Anonymous said...

I've been thinking of trying Toibin, and maybe this would be a good place to start. Saoirse Ronan is my favorite young actress. Hard to believe we've been following her since she was a kid in "Atonement".

pattinase (abbott) said...

I have only read one or two others. My husband would say start with THE MASTER (Henry James) which he thought a masterpiece.

TracyK said...

I am glad you reviewed this. I have been on the fence about reading this book (and this author). I always wonder about a man doing a woman's voice (and vice versa).

Emilio said...

Is FFB still a thing? I was reading it on the Sweet Freedom blog every Friday and got many ideas for books to read. But I haven't seen it in a while. I miss it.

pattinase (abbott) said...

It still exists but I don't think anyone is gathering the links any longer. But if you look at the sidebar to this blog, a lot of the blogs on there publish one nearly every Friday. I had to quit doing it after twelve years. Just too time consuming.