Monday, September 21, 2009

BOOK: Brooklyn by Colm Toibin

Brooklyn by Colm Toibin, 340 pages (Large Print)

Man Booker Longlist 2009

Eilis is the youngest daughter in a small village in Ireland. Her sister Rose has a job and looks after their mother but there isn't much for Eilis to do. She probably never imagined she could have a life any different than the one she was living. Rose arranges for Eilis to emigrate to Brooklyn, and gets a job and room arranged for Eilis. The first third of the book describes Eilis' life up to arriving in NY, and then the next two thirds are the adapting that she has to go through.

Poor Eilis! She was a naive, simple girl who was thrust into a whole new world, with no real options. And yet, she was strong willed in doing what she needed to. She was very concerned with behaving or speaking in a way so as not to upset anyone around her. This lead to the feeling that she was not smart or selfish, but at the same time, she was very aware of the decisions she made, and she wouldn't be pushed around, unless she was aware of it, and then it was her choice, so she really wasn't being pushed around. I felt so bad for her, alone in a new country, learning to fit in, with no friends for quite a while.

There was a lot of similar overtones to A Tree Grows in Brooklyn for me, - the Irish immigrant experience, but I preferred Brooklyn. A Tree Grows in Brooklyn was only okay for me. Eilis was a very strong character, well written with a lot of depth to her. Toibin writes in a nice, easy manner and I would be interested in reading another novel by him. This didn't make the short list for the Man Booker, but I am very pleased I read it.

5 comments:

Kailana said...

hm, I like the comparision to A Tree Grows in Brooklyn, but I read that so long ago I don't even know if I would remember it well enough to compare. Regardless, this book is on my TBR pile and one day I am going to get around to reading it!

Teddy Rose said...

I will have to read both so that I can compare them myself. Great review.

Jo said...

I really liked this, but haven't read A Tree Grows in Brooklyn so I might have to go and read that now!

3m said...

I LOVED A Tree Grows in Brooklyn, and only liked Brooklyn, but still thought it a worthwhile read. I AM glad I finally read a Toibin!

Wendy said...

I remember reading A Tree Grows in Brooklyn a LONG time ago and enjoying it. Glad to see you liked Toibin's novel :)