Colm Toibin's Brooklyn tells the story of Eilis, a young woman who escapes a provincial 1950s Irish upbringing and matures in a Brooklyn rooming house. Having grown up during the 50s a half mile from Ebbet's Field, shopping in the Fulton Street area, and attending Brooklyn College, I enjoyed the nostalgic walk around the block. Oddly, the novel felt 100-200 years older than the 50s, almost a manners tale, not Austen or Dickens in quality of character or plot, but somehow reaching for a little of each. Sensible expectations. The novel ambles along as if World War II never happened, with an ocean crossing depiction reminiscent of turn of the previous century nightmares followed by surprisingly little observation of the post-war Brooklyn environment. It is tempting to say that the novel would have made a better short story, or a better longer novel, but my disappointment is probably not related to the length, but to the lack of theme and focus in the narrative. There are no subplots, and fundamentally Eilis' story seems more suitable to 1st person narration. Was the story about breaking away from confining family or place, immigration, evolving realizations, obeying/breaking the rules, betrayal, achieving aspirations, first love, sexual awakening, cultural/religious differences? All of the above, and unfortunately, none of the above.
Kristen Potter does a fine job with the narration.
I'm not sure. Perhaps this is a young adult book more than a police procedural. It's two books in one. The stronger book is the police procedural, the weaker book is the one exploring the lives of teenage girls at an Irish Catholic boarding school.
Genre? I think the question is whether I will be inclined to read another Tana French novel. The first three books in the series were terrific, the fourth a stretch of belief, and this last one went completely off the rails. The premise of the book (the secret place of posting cards as an alternative to internet postings) is not in tune with any reality. And the double entendre of the secret place in the lives of teenage girls did not show understanding or insight into the modern teenager.
The male narrator was fine for the police procedural "book." The female narrator gave it her best shot, but the material was awful.
Is this really a useful question? Perhaps you want to ask what suggestions I might have as an editor. I would leave the police procedural book and eliminate the teenage girl book. I would let the interviews with the girls speak for the flashbacks covered by the procedural.
The length of the book needs to be cut roughly in half. But most importantly, the entire plot needs a dose of 2014 reality. It is inconceivable that teenagers would participate in the "secret place' post board created by the administrator of a school. Teenagers are much more interested in sex than any of these kids. The entire book screams 1950's and is not decades, but generations out of sync with current teenage behavior.
The book was very difficult to complete; the only reason I hung in was that I had confidence that Tana French might have something more to say, or twists in the plot worth waiting for... I was wrong.
These guiding questions from Audible are not helpful to writing a review -- or reading one.
What were you thinking?
The hype surrounding this book was extraordinarily positive. Unfortunately, I have been very disappointed.
I felt that the premise for the book was very creative, and had great potential. However, I don't believe I have come across an author who stretched out a narrative with such exhausting emptiness. For all its length, this is not really an epic tale. This is a plot story, without interesting characters, observational insight or psychological nuance. The vampire-virus conceit is not particularly scary, disturbing, campy or sexy. The writer draws out inconsequential details of activities, while breaking up the time line into a patchwork somewhat disconnected stories; the result renders the characters to placeholders or passersby, and the entire exposition lost its ability to make me care about anyone or what happens next. This is a story that could be seriously abridged; there was so little going forward in the story that I could multitask for long periods of time without missing a thing. I don't think I will be lining up for the next two volumes of the trilogy.
I don't even think that if the story could be repackaged as an HBO series or an Avatar like animation. The story is too disjointed.
Scott Brick comes across pretty flat in this reading, but I don't know if that is his fault. His strong point is earnestness, but this is a tale that is too boring to hold conviction over its length. The sentence structure of Mr. Cronin's writing lacks finesse of verb, adjective, metaphor and his dialog fails to evoke tension or reveal character. There is not much for Mr. Brick to work with.
This book has now been reviewed by thousands of readers with an average rating of over 3.7 indicating that many have loved it. Perhaps it is just not my cup of tea.
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