Reviews in 200 Words

Brooklyn: A Novel by Colm Toibin

In Novel on May 11, 2009 at 9:31 pm

Read this book on a nice day, in a hammock. The story is subtle. It begins in small-town Ireland, circa 1950, and moves to the bustling streets of Brooklyn. Eilis Lacey lives a quaint life, working in the grocery, thinking about boys and dancing; but when a priest proposes that—with his help—she travel to America, it’s like her life starts anew. Her violent motion sickness on the trip from Ireland to America suggests what she might be in for, and her physical illness soon turns into homesickness: sharp and endless. As Eilis finds her routine in Brooklyn, she grows more aware of details: tiny events from her past that re-play in her mind. Eilis works in a nice shop and lives in a nice boarding house and even takes evening classes to learn bookkeeping. Soon she meets a nice Italian boy, Tony, and begins to enjoy her accounting classes; her new life is interesting and distant, like a hazy dream. By the time she gets the chance to return to Ireland, she realizes that now “home” seems foreign. A familiar set of circumstances: attachment to a new place, a new way of defining oneself. This is a nice story; it earns its end.

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