I bumped into this book, quite literally, at the bookstore and the title immediately caught my attention. The display was promoting the film adaptation which is coming to U.S. theaters this November. When I read the book blurb, I knew I wanted to give this a read.
"The answer was that there was no answer, that nothing she could do would be right." ~ Brooklyn
Set outside Dublin and in New York in the early 1950s, Brooklyn by Colm Tóibín is a coming-of-age story about a young Irish woman, Eilis, who emigrates to Brooklyn for a chance at a better life. Leaving behind everything and everyone she knows, she must learn to adjust away from the only life she's ever known in a strange, new world.
Over time things fall into place for naive, sheltered Eilis - a job, an education, even a first love - and she truly blossoms. When an unexpected event occurs that threatens her new life, Eilis must make the dreadful choice between her own happiness and family obligations. There are heartbreaking moments as Eilis battles between her own conflicting desires and being true to herself. There are times she and her life are so manipulated by others that my heart bled for her.
"He seemed part of a dream from which she had woken with considerable force some
time before, and in this waking time his presence, once so solid, lacked any real substance or form; it was merely a shadow at the edge of every moment of the day and night."
Brooklyn is so beautifully written, so authentic, I felt like I melted into the pages. Tóibín captures the innocence of the era wonderfully including the strong family relationships and unspoken social etiquette and pure romance between men and women. Honestly, it is one of those novels that I cannot say enough good things about, but I will admit that it will not be for everyone. Do not expect edge of your seat suspense or in your face action. This book is pure heart and soul and poetic storytelling as it focuses on the inherently assumed sacrifices often made by women. I must have read the last paragraph of the novel five times or more, each time letting it sink further and further into my psyche. Along with the readings came both tears of pain and smiles of warmth.
My English literature degree specializes in Irish literature, yet it has been years since I read an Irish author. However, I have since added another of Tóibín's novels to my TBR list. Between my own connections to both Ireland (where I studied for a semester) and Brooklyn (where I was born and spent a great deal of my childhood), this novel spoke volumes to me. I loved the historical references to the different nationalities living in Brooklyn and how they interacted with each other and brought back many memories of my own upbringing.
I just watched the film trailer and I cannot wait to see this film!
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