“Brooklyn” by Colm Tóibín

In a time of poor employment rates in 1950s Ireland, Eilis has already seen her brothers leave home to find work in England, and while her sister Rose has been lucky enough to find a good job and a fulfilling life at home, there doesn’t seem to be much chance of that for Eilis. So she leaves Ireland for the shores of America, a young girl making her way with the help of the church to the land of opportunity. In her new lodgings in Brooklyn, Eilis is homesick for Ireland but starts to build a new life, but news from home may soon change everything she has worked for.

What an absolutely wonderful book. This is the second Tóibín book I’ve read, and as with the first, the beauty of his writing captivated me throughout. He really seems to capture the essence of Eilis and her being seems like a very real person. An affecting portrayal of the young woman and what struck me was how you completely understood how Eilis was feeling all the time, but he managed to keep a slight distance to of all the other characters. This is exactly how we all as individuals truly are around all other people – we can never know exactly how they feel or think, no matter how close we are to them. Having said that, there was enough description of all the other characters that you were led to believe what sort of person they were, and what their motives for their actions were at any time.

One of my favourite reads of the year, and I will be looking for more to read from this author in the future.

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