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Assuming we have a reliable narrator, we can date this story by the newly released movie she views Singing in the Rain so it s 1952.A young Irish woman emigrates to Brooklyn Back in Ireland, she has three brothers all working in England and an older sister who will now stay home to take care of their aging mother The older sister, who happens to be attractive, athletic and ambitious, sacrifices her possibility of a normal married life for her younger sister Our heroine chooses the US over England because those who went to England missed Enniscorthy the Irish home town whereas those who went to the US did not The younger sister tells us her story including incredible seasickness and homesickness episodes She gets a job as a retail clerk in a department store and begins experiencing the contrast of life in a semi rural Irish town to that in a thriving American metropolis So much happens, and she experiences so much newness, that she feels she needs an extra day to go through the events and happenings, scene by scene, storing them away and getting it out of her system as she dreams each night She lives in a boarding house with several other Irish women, but she s a loner and makes no real friends among the other lodgers or landlady She dislikes the prejudice with which the other boarders treat Jews, colored women, other ethnics, such as Italians, and lower class folks such as one boarder who scrubs floors She has an episode with a female boss who is a lesbian, and although she does not accept her advances, she accepts her orientation and continues to treat her respectfully All this is fine, although at times I started thinking that all her political correctness was a bit overdone and seemed like set pieces For example, when she helps out at church sponsored Christmas banquet for homeless men, I thought the story started taking on the tone of a YA novel And maybe it is it certainly could be There are little realistic touches such as by letter her and her mother s amazement that Americans leave the heat on all night Our heroine falls in love with an Italian man But tragedy strikes and she has to return home She feels the pull of Ireland once again and she gets into a position where no matter what she does, she will hurt someone.A line I liked She struck Eilis as looking like a horse dealer s wife in Enniscorthy on a fair day A good story, worth 4 stars rounded up, although I don t think it s one of Toibin s best Top photo from brooklynpix.comLower photo from Some books are worth sticking with To call this book a slow starter would be to evoke a drastic understatement After around a hundred or so pages, I was beginning to wonder if this book was actually going anywhere There was a completer lack of plot, as the mundane life of an ordinary girl unfolded in all its blandness However, as the novel progressed it built up momentum, ever so slowly until the point where it became a heart racing crescendo of uncertainty The true shame of this book, and perhaps its reason for such a mixed reception here on goodreads, is how many readers such initial storytelling would put off and even lose altogether So what s good about this book Plot wise, it sounds like a tiresome clich , so I m not even going to attempt a summary Instead I m going to consider what the novel actually captures Decisions are always important, but every so often a decision so powerful will come along that either direction you take will completely alter your life hereafter We ve all experienced that moment, a moment where if you went down a certain path as Robert Frost would say the road not taken our life would be different today Some moments are just that strong they don t come along very often, but when they do they linger for what feels like an eternity And this is what the book builds up to in its eloquent simplicity For Eilis her decision is vast and unpredictable This becomes such a crucial part of the storytelling We can t predict such moments No matter how bland and ordinary our lives may appear, you can t predict what may happen in your life Sometimes something, or someone, comes along that threatens to change the game completely Your life becomes something else, and your reaction to it may come to define the rest of your days Eilis becomes torn between two lives, one she has grown to love and one that is undoubtedly her comfort zone Her coming actions will stay with her forever, as she ponders what could have been The novel also chronicles a huge part of modern cultural history As a historical novelist, Toibin has captured many of the viewpoints of the 1950s along with various social transitions The world is becoming modern thus, there is a shift in attitudes towards race, sex and marriage The older generation characters are conservative, and remain resistant to this asserting sense of newness Some of the younger characters, but not all, are open and accepting We see a multitude of opinions and attitudes, ultimately, recognising which ones will become dominant So here is a book that has very little in the way of actual plot, but I urge other readers to look beyond that The story is a mere vehicle, a means for the author to capture these intense moments of confliction and uncertainty In this sense, it chronicles a large part of what it is to be human. This is a charming, simple story about a sweet, straightforward young woman until the final section, when it sears the reader s heart and soars into another realm.The first part is a delightful picture of small town Ireland in the 1950s The middle two parts chart Eilis arrival and settling in to life and study in Brooklyn Not much happens It s well done, but I couldn t see what all the fuss was about Then she is unexpectedly summoned home The situation and dilemmas arising could be crass, predictable and dull, or overly sentimental, or just implausible They are none of those things The ending was brave and brilliant, and pushed the book from 3.5 to 5 The most powerful aspect for me was view spoiler big spoiler coming up view spoiler that she went back to Brooklyn, presumably to Tony, but carefully puts the photo of her and Jim on the beach in the bottom of her suitcase hide spoiler A simple but universal coming of age story, beautifully and gracefully toldUsually I read the book before seeing the movie, but in this case I saw the movie first I screened the lovely film back in August when I wrote a cover story on Brooklyn s star, Saoirse Ronan, for my paper s coverage of the Toronto Film Festival I only now caught up with the novel I m so glad I did It really made me appreciate Nick Hornby s adaptation In 1950s small town Ireland, Eilis Lacey has few prospects in life there are no available jobs and even fewer available men So when a priest offers to sponsor her to emigrate to the U.S., she accepts, even though she s sad to leave her mother and older sister, Rose Once in Brooklyn, NY, she adjusts to working in a department store and living in a rooming house, but she s desperately homesick That eases up when, with the help of that same priest, she takes night school bookkeeping courses she also meets a charming Italian American man, Tony All is going well until she s called back to Ireland T ib n s prose is clear and unadorned, befitting the book s simple, forthright and industrious protagonist One of my writing teachers told me that showing characters who are good at what they do is a sure way to build sympathy for them, and I loved reading about Eilis s skill with numbers and facts There s nothing flashy about her she s modest, sensible and hard working, but she s also got a fine sense of humour She s no pushover I like that Eilis is studying bookkeeping She s concerned about things adding up in both columns When exciting things start happening in her life, she wants to be left alone to reflect on them She s a classic introvert After she meets Tony, she probably intuitively adds things up in the relationship column she wishes he were taller when she s offered a larger room at the boarding house, she tries to figure out the why and wherefore of the offer, and whose debit and credit columns will be affected What s remarkable is how quietly and yet powerfully T ib n presents Eilis s narrative I loved all the details about the department store its billing system, the one day a year pantyhose sale that s spread by word of mouth One theme that s not explored in the film is how the store adjusts to the times when its savvy owner realizes the neighbourhood is changing, it begins catering to African American customers, and it s fascinating to see how Eilis reacts This is the new world, with opportunities for all There s also a tiny scene about one of Eilis s instructors, whose family was killed in the Holocaust.Eilis s story made me laugh and cry her loneliness, her hard work, her spirit of charity, her growing confidence The book s final section finds her back in Ireland, and the way she sees her old life what used to be her entire universe is profound and moving The book s denouement happens a little quickly The film s concluding scenes are much satisfying emotionally we need to see certain things resolve But the spirit of book and film are the same The story of journeying from one place to another to build a new life for oneself is universal To b n finds a fresh, unpretentious way to tell it Brooklyn is exactly why I love a certain type of literary fiction to get deep into character, to understand where people come from, not just geographically but psychologically and emotionally One final note there are two references to a Nora Webster in the book That s the name of T ib n s eponymous 2014 novel Am I stoked to read it What, are you a feckin eedjit Pardon my faux Irish curse Of course I am. ( Free Epub ) ♋ Brooklyn ♷ Hauntingly Beautiful And Heartbreaking, Colm T Ib N S Sixth Novel, Brooklyn, Is Set In Brooklyn And Ireland In The Early S, When One Young Woman Crosses The Ocean To Make A New Life For HerselfEilis 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 BehindEilis 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 Brooklyn starts out as a nice little slice of life in Ireland in the early 50 s Then Eilis, the younger of two sisters living at home with their mother, has a whole new life arranged for her in New York It took rather a stiff upper lip for a young woman to cross the stormy seas and settle in a foreign land where the only person she knew was the priest who arranged the whole thing Sea sickness gave way to homesickness, but her strength of character prevailed The story then settled into how she built her new life, complete with a job at a clothing store, night classes to learn bookkeeping, relations with her catty fellow boarders, and ultimately with Tony, his brothers, and the Dodgers It was a innocent era even in the big city At that point I was wondering if it was possible to be nostalgic for a time and place you ve never experienced People were generally nicer thoughtful Then again, I wondered whether an era like that when polite behavior and higher standards were de rigueur would be likely to come down hard on subtle deviations Would social acceptance be too narrowly defined Seemed like something interesting to consider in light of the book s focus on manners, integrity and the social fabric of the day I was happy enough with the manufactured, third order conflicts It helped that despite her passive nature, Eilis was likable and observant I d be curious to know if women who read this think T ib n did a credible job getting inside the head of his young protagonist Then, towards the end, BAM you get genuine, first order conflict I won t spoil it for anyone, but will mention that certain dilemmas were laid out well old life vs new, family duty vs commitments to others, the growing comfort of the here and now vs the fading memories of pleasures past, and romantic prospects vs what There s a pay off to reading through to the end Which way will the wind blow Will Eilis be blown with it It was a story simply told and all the forceful for it.Update I m happy to report that the movie adaptation was a good one It s not a substitute for the book, of course, since there is plenty of interior life a film can t hope to capture But the screenplay was clever Nick Hornby is apparently good at these things and the acting was first rate I hope Saoirse Ronan scores an Oscar nomination Four to four and a half stars plus one upturned thumb speak to a fine book movie double. 2.5 Stars I m sorry to say BROOKLYN was a disappointing read for me.It was slow going throughout most of the story with a kind of monotone dialogue, and while I did find Eilis s initial trip from Ireland to America kind of fun and interesting, her life while in America was day after day of repetitive boredom for the readerat least for me As for Eilis herself, at first I thought she showed strength of character and heart, but by the end of the story, well..I admit to hoping for her demise I liked Tony, but felt sorry for him in the end as well as for Jim and Rose As for the rest of the charactersGEESH The best part of the novel for me were the baseball discussions while the Brooklyn Dodgers played at Ebbets Field.Will probably still see the movie and hope for the best.Update March 28, 2016 Thought the movie was much better than the book, but probably not one I would rent again.too many books to read. Wellit was a quick readI expected far and only in minute passage did I find it Mr Toibin s BROOKLYN felt rushed, a bit glossed over, too formulaic for me to honestly believe the character of Eilis Lacey and the name bothered me as much as her lack of substance There were small moments of brilliance the terse passages of what was not said, which was the most telling, yet those glimmers were rare I could not identify in the least with Eilis, she was so one dimensional, barely there and characterized as mostly bored when she was present in this book Her mother and glamorous older sister decided she must go to America, so she does A priest manages a hard to get passage, work status and job buthowand whyShe ends up in a rooming house in Brooklyn with a job as a salesgirl in a department storegreat Life in the rooming house was pleasant but bland, her job was almost non descript except for the reader learning how salesgirls made change via pneumatic tubes that was described in exquisite detail despite her being launched from a tiny Irish village into the incredible diversity and cultural whirlwind of life in New York City Eilis just waltzes in an smiles pleasantly at times when Mr Toibin wants us to know what she s doing Hardships Well, there s loneliness we re told of a day she spent with a crooked smile because she s lonelyso the omnipotent priest puts her in night school to fill her time and she manages to excell Halfway into this I realized she s a Mary Sue That s great for Mr Toibin but rest assured there is very little emotion or connection on the reader s part for this girl The author just points and shoots her to the next scenario which she scurries through successfully there was no way I could identify with this character or care much for her trials few or triumphs many The secondary characters also needed time, development to come to life for me They were barely two dimensional Occasionally, again, that glimmer, but overall, it was just words telling me about these people, the life they were marching through Most disappointing to me, really lacking in insight and in truism was the ending I don t want to spoil this than I already have, but there was no feeling of ahhhhh when it was done The ending, while putting on the face of happiness rang hollow It makes me wonder if Mr Toibin schemed to pull a great private joke over all of us who really want to gush about it and hug it to our heaving bosoms ala Bridges of Madison County gag gag.The most interesting thing about this book was looking over the accolades from those who reviewed it I couldn t wait to relish every word when phrases like, A Triumph , a moving, deeply satisfying read , and exquisitely detailed fiction I was surprised when I finished it and reviewed the praises, wondering if I had read the same novel If I had enough time and had a tick crazy in me give me maybe 10 years , I promise you I would send a hand written note to each reviewer suggesting they either didn t read the book or jumped on the love train while pretending to have read it I seriously think I will write to a certain Ms Zoe Heller author of THE BELIEVERS to ask her how on earth she can possibly make the unfounded claim that Mr Toibin writes about women convincinglythan any other living, male novelist I beg to disagree. Brooklyn is a wonderful character portrait and captures as well the struggle of an Irish immigrant to the US in the post war world Eilis Lacy is a twenty something in a small Irish town, frustrated at the sclerotic nature of her environment Her life lies ahead of her in a single, entirely predictable line and she feels suffocated She wants to study, to learn accountancy, or at least bookkeeping, so she can rise a little above her lowly economic situation Seizing an unexpected opportunity she sails for America and begins to make a life for herself in Brooklyn Colm T ib n from the LA Times Toibin finds small townishness, of the good and warm but also the negative and intrusive sorts in both worlds His portrayal of boarding house life in New York is classic It is matched by his ability to show the appeal of Eilis home town Ultimately Eilis must decide where her future lies.Saoirse Ronan as Eilis she dazzles in the roleEilis Lacey is a fully realized character you will be able to relate to, someone you will remember Her concerns may have been set in a particular time and place or places as the case may be but the issues she faces are no less true for people of many eras from all over the world who take on the huge challenge of immigration This is not an action oriented page turner, no shoot outs or car chases, literal or figurative Instead it is a beautifully written, patiently paced tale that is well worth the reading EXTRA STUFFLinks to the author s personal, and FB pagesAn article in The Guardian from October 10, 2015 Colm T ib n on filming his novel Brooklyn Everyone in my home town wanted to be an extra An NPR interview of Toibin by Jacki Lyden An article from The Telegraph May 21, 2015 by Olivia Parker Colm T ib n Writing is always a battle against your own lazinessSaw the film on Tuesday It is magnificent Although I vacilated between sympathizing with the main character and wondering at her thought processes, in the end, I was disappointed in her behavior, choices and the ending of this book.