Hauntingly beautiful and heartbreaking, Colm Tóibín's sixth novel, Brooklyn, is set in Brooklyn and Ireland in the early 1950s, when one young woman crosses the ocean to make a new life for herself.
Eilis Lacey has come of age in small-town Ireland in the years following World War Two. Though skilled at bookkeeping, she cannot find a job in the miserable Irish economy. When an Irish priest from Brooklyn offers to sponsor Eilis in America--to live and work in a Brooklyn neighborhood "just like Ireland"--she decides she must go, leaving her fragile mother and her charismatic sister behind.
Eilis finds work in a department store on Fulton Street, and when she least expects it, finds love. Tony, a blond Italian from a big family, slowly wins her over with patient charm. He takes Eilis to Coney Island and Ebbets Field, and home to dinner in the two-room apartment he shares with his brothers and parents. He talks of having children who are Dodgers fans. But just as Eilis begins to fall in love with Tony, devastating news from Ireland threatens the promise of her future.
By far Tóibín's most instantly engaging and emotionally resonant novel, Brooklyn will make readers fall in love with his gorgeous writing and spellbinding characters. [ synopsis from goodreads ]
I probably can't even begin to express just how much I enjoyed this novel. It was seriously so good and I finished it yesterday and am still thinking about it. I keep finding myself trying to pick it up again and read more and then realizing I don't have any more to read. Sadly.
So I really loved the story and I really enjoyed getting to know the characters. I honestly really loved watching Eilis adapt to living in America and then to living in Ireland again. You can see the changes that happen the second time around in Ireland after America has already changed her and she's already grown so much while living there.
I also really loved all the culture in this book. It tackles a lot of social issues that were happening in Brooklyn during the time and you definitely know while reading that it's set in the 50s. And I think that was really interesting and it gave a lot of insight into the time period and how it was to live then and, also, to be an immigrant.
I think Americans only ever hear of immigration from the American point of view and we never hear it from the other side. I'm really glad this book gave us the other side of the story and showed how challenging it is to be in a foreign country and to start over and make a new life. It seems that, as Americans, we don't always consider the "Strangers in a Strange Land" aspect and sometimes we even ignore it. And I love that this book doesn't let you ignore that.
So, in all, I really enjoyed this story and loved every minute of reading it! I definitely wish it would've been a little longer. I could've done with another 50 pages (especially because the last part, where she's back in Ireland, felt a little short? I could've done with more). I also would've loved to see Eilis back in Brooklyn. Though I did really love the way the ending was more open ended. So I'm happy with how it ended but I also wanted to see her back in Brooklyn. I clearly can't be pleased, haha.
Anyway, I would completely and totally recommend this novel! It was so wonderful and it's definitely one I will be reading again in the future!
review originally posted on goodreads