The novel's style reflects this restraint. Toibin never writes two sentences when one will do, and the narration, by Kirsten Potter, is beautifully expressive without relying on actorly tics. When she performs Eilis' dialogue, she deftly turns the rising inflection and ironic pacing of a County Wexford accent into an expression of Eilis' uncertainty and reserve. Eilis' American co-workers and boyfriend speak in flat, friendly, percussive tones. You can hear their sureness of place and purpose, and feel Eilis' relief when she's surrounded again with voices like her own.
Eilis leaves her family behind in Enniscorthy on the urging of her glamorous older sister and a priest that the family has enlisted to smooth the way for her. She lands in Brooklyn with a job in a clothing store already arranged for her and takes a room in a boarding house where the manners and morals of all the single women are under constant scrutiny. She works in the shop, attends night classes at Brooklyn College, eats dinner with the other lodgers, and on Fridays attends the dance at the parish hall. Each of these elements of her new life is significant because it stands over a void of dislocation. The simplicity of the prose and the purity of the narrative's focus magnify these small accomplishments the moments of emotional equilibrium, the certificate in bookkeeping that will move her from the shop floor to the offices upstairs into the towering emotional achievements that they are. In Brooklyn we watch the ordinary, terrifying work of dismantling a life and building it up again from nothing. Rosalie Knecht
©2009 Colm Tóibín; (P)2009 Blackstone Audio, Inc.
"Tóibín's genius is that he makes it impossible for us to walk away." (The New Yorker)
"Slowly, equably, and without malice, Eilis exacts a bittersweet revenge for the expatriation she never intended—or, rather, one unfolds for her unsought, organically. … [Tóibín] shows no condescension for Eilis’s passivity but records her cautious adventures matter-of-factly, as if she were writing them herself in her journal." (New York Times Book Review)
"Eilis is almost a parody of 1950s femininity. … The ending of Brooklyn is a masterpiece of quiet reflection, bringing up deep emotions submerged under the placid exterior and giving the novel an ache that will linger for days." (Christian Science Monitor)
"Tóibín’s tributes to old New York, both in landscape and disposition, beautifully reflect on a time past, but it’s Eilis’ universal struggles with matters of the heart that make this novel such a moving, deeply satisfying read." (Entertainment Weekly)
"[Kirsten Potter] produces the American characters without flaw and delivers the general narrative at a nice, easy pace." (Washington Post Book World)
Could relate to the character telling the story. Could feel for her story about leaving Ireland and coming to a whole new country.
She tells the story with an Irish accent where appropriate. Made you feel you were actually hearing characters speaking in person.
The trials of coming to a whole new way of life.
Enjoyed the book until the last chapter. There should have been at least one more chapter to bring the story to a close. Left so many things up in the air - too many loose ends and not those at least I felt good about deciding for myself what she was going to do. I would have preferred a nice neat package of the story lines all tied up. You are lead to believe she is headed back to America, but does she. Does she follow through with her marriage? Does she get the promotion she worked so hard at college for? Does she live happily ever after with Tony? Even if they didn't go into details, a chapter written later in her life with a look-back on these items would tie everything up in a neat package.
Too many questions left unanswered at the end.
Brooklyn was a very interesting, entertaining and emotional story. I would love to read more, possibly Return to Brooklyn???
i like to read. i like to listen.
this book was fantastic. it made me so emotional -- sometimes giddy happy, sometimes crestfallen, sometimes very very angry.
it's a really poignant story about the journey of a young woman named Eilis, who comes to Brooklyn from Ireland in the 1950s. over the course of the story, she grows becomes independent, bold, courageous. she falls in love. she takes control of her life. then she has to go back to Ireland because of a family emergency...and all of this growth and development seems to have stayed behind across the ocean.
i was deeply disturbed by parts of this story. some decisions that Eilis made were very upsetting to me. to me, it's a sign of a great writer when i'm sitting here reading the book and talking out loud to the characters. this is what i was doing while i read this book, especially the final part. i was hoping with all my might that she made the decisions that i wanted her to make. i felt like i had a stake in her life.
i loved the charm of this story. the little surprises that kept me interested. and the interesting choices that were laid in front of Eilis.
I've read a number of Colm Toibin's books and have both enjoyed and admired them. Brooklyn, which I very much wanted to like, is a disappointment. The novel gets so caught up in its effort to produce an unadorned narrative about quite ordinary people who must live through a very common experience that it loses any hold it might have had on the reader's imagination. In looking so closely at the mundane, it becomes mundane. I should add, hoever, that the reader is excellent.
Tell us about yourself! I am a former high school history teacher and now, a semi-retired physician assistant.
Colm Toibin has written an immigrant story about an ordinary girl, from an ordinary town doing ordinary things. Eillis faces her problems with honesty and courage, yet, in the end, she allows herself to get caught up in a love triangle that introduces us to a different side of her character and makes us wonder who she really is. The story has few twists, but the end is worth the wait.
After all the rave reviews I guess I expected more. I really didn't connect with the main character. I found her passive and not taking control or responsibility for her actions. she was not unlikable,, but I did not really see the point of the story. The book ended just as I was expecting it to come to some sort of point to tie her story up ... but I'm not coming away with any valuable pearls or thoughts or insights gained.
Accents are done very well. This was a great listen, very well written story that never veers into sentimentality or melodrama. Sweet and simple and compelling narration.
Fabulous reading. Each character had a unique voice, and yet the performance was so subtle that you forgot you were listening to an audiobook.
Colm Toibin has done a remarkable thing with this new book, Brooklyn. He has written an extraordinary novel about ordinary life. As such, the book is slow, detailed, nicely inhabits the mind of the main character, Ailish, seems very familiar (even though the signature crisis of the 1st 3/4 of the book involves emigrating from Ireland to America in the 1950s). In the last portion of the book, the crisis heats up with Ailish's return to Ireland, and some crisis of conscience ensues without the reader actually realizing, until it is too late, that such is goinjg to happen. Again, it seems familiar, ordinary, even as it is a crisis.
Highly recommended for the beautiful writing, the excellent narration, and the uniqueness of the ordinary life story put into art.
After enjoying The Master and reading all the glowing reviews of Toibin's latest novel, I was really looking forward to Brooklyn. Unfortunately, it didn't quite live up to the hype. I was quite absorbed in the first 2/3 of the book, where Eilis is sent to America, tries to adjust to her life and her fellow lodgers, and falls in love. But, as a few other readers have mentioned, I really started to dislike her in the last 1/3 of the book, and I HATED the way it ended. I don't want to give anything away, so I'll just say that it wasn't the choice that she made that angered me but the WAY in which she made it. Also, I was left thinking, "That's it? We don't get to see how things work out?" It really left me hanging.
There's no doubt that Toibin is a skilled writer. But I know that he can do better than this. Not an awful read, just rather weak and disappointing in the end.
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