Colm Tóibín’s New York Times bestselling novel—also an acclaimed film starring Saoirse Ronan and Jim Broadbent nominated for four Academy Awards including Best Picture—is “a moving, deeply satisfying read” (Entertainment Weekly) about a young Irish immigrant in Brooklyn in the early 1950s.
“One of the most unforgettable characters in contemporary literature” (Pittsburgh Post-Gazette), Eilis Lacey has come of age in small-town Ireland in the hard years following World War Two. When an Irish priest from Brooklyn offers to sponsor Eilis in America, 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, who loves the Dodgers and his big Italian family, slowly wins her over with patient charm. But just as Eilis begins to fall in love, devastating news from Ireland threatens the promise of her future.
Author “Colm Tóibín…is his generation’s most gifted writer of love’s complicated, contradictory power” (Los Angeles Times). “Written with mesmerizing power and skill” (The Boston Globe), Brooklyn is a “triumph…One of those magically quiet novels that sneak up on readers and capture their imaginations” (USA TODAY).
APPLE BOOKS REVIEW
We were captivated by Irish author Colm Tóibín’s gentle, bittersweet novel about the immigrant experience. Eilis’ family presses her to leave Ireland and take a chance on a new life in Brooklyn. Tóibín portrays life in ‘50s New York in vivid detail—from boarding houses, parish dances, and department stores to Coney Island and baseball. Eilis’ emotional journey is deeply moving. She cycles through homesickness, cautious joy about her blossoming relationship with ambitious Italian boy Tony, and the pain of choosing between her new and old lives.
SignatureReviewed by Maureen HowardColm T ib n's engaging new novel, Brooklyn, will not bring to mind the fashionable borough of recent years nor Bed-Stuy beleaguered with the troubles of a Saturday night. T ib n has revived the Brooklyn of an Irish-Catholic parish in the '50s, a setting appropriate to the narrow life of Eilis Lacey. Before Eilis ships out for a decent job in America, her village life is sketched in detail. The shops, pub, the hoity-toity and plainspoken people of Enniscorthy have such appeal on the page, it does seem a shame to leave. But how will we share the girl's longing for home, if home is not a gabby presence in her migr tale? T ib n's maneuvers draw us to the bright girl with a gift for numbers. With a keen eye, Eilis surveys her lonely, steady-on life: her job in the dry goods store, the rules and regulations of her rooming house ladies only. The competitive hustle at the parish dances are so like the ones back home it's something of a wonder I did not give up on the gentle tattle of her story, run a Netflix of the feline power struggle in Claire Booth Luce's The Women. T ib n rescues his homesick shopgirl from narrow concerns, gives her a stop-by at Brooklyn College, a night course in commercial law. Her instructor is Joshua Rosenblum. Buying his book, the shopkeeper informs her, "At least we did that, we got Rosenblum out.""You mean in the war?"His reply when she asks again: "In the holocaust, in the churben."The scene is eerie, falsely na ve. We may accept what a village girl from Ireland, which remained neutral during the war, may not have known, but T ib n's delivery of the racial and ethnic discoveries of a clueless young woman are disconcerting. Eilis wonders if she should write home about the Jews, the Poles, the Italians she encounters, but shouldn't the novelist in pursuing those postwar years in Brooklyn, in the Irish enclave of the generous Father Flood, take the mike? The Irish vets I knew when I came to New York in the early '50s had been to that war; at least two I raised a glass with at the White Horse were from Brooklyn. When the stage is set for the love story, slowly and carefully as befits his serious girl, T ib n is splendidly in control of Eilis's and Tony's courtship. He's Italian, you see, of a poor, caring family. I wanted to cast Brooklyn, with Rosalind Russell perfect for Rose, the sporty elder sister left to her career in Ireland. Can we get Philip Seymour Hoffman into that cassock again? J. Carol Naish, he played homeboy Italian, not the mob. I give away nothing in telling that the possibility of Eilis reclaiming an authentic and spirited life in Ireland turns Brooklyn into a stirring and satisfying moral tale. T ib n, author of The Master, a fine-tuned novel on the lonely last years of Henry James, revisits, diminuendo, the wrenching finale of The Portrait of a Lady. What the future holds for Eilis in America is nothing like Isabel Archer's return to the morally corrupt Osmond. The decent fellow awaits. Will she be doomed to a tract house of the soul on Long Island? I hear John McCormick take the high note alone in the gloaming with the shadows of the past as T ib n's good girl contemplates the lost promise of Brooklyn.Maureen Howard's The Rags of Time, the last season of her quartet of novels based on the four seasons, will be published by Viking in October.
It took me a while to get into the book, but once I did, I fell in love with the characters. As the story starts to ramp up it just ends and that's it... Very disappointed. I am looking forward to seeing how the movie depicts the book and the ending. It almost seems like a follow up book is needed.
Predictable and disappointing
A quick read, with some interesting history of Brooklyn thrown in. But if you read Brooklyn expecting anything more complicated than a simplistic love story, you will be disappointed. And the ending is superbly unsatisfying. Too bad. It could have been so much more.
Just okay. Movie is way better
For the first time in my life, I have read a book that the movie did a way better job at.