Customer Reviews for

Brooklyn: A Novel

Average Rating 3.5
( 153 )
Rating Distribution

5 Star

(29)

4 Star

(52)

3 Star

(34)

2 Star

(26)

1 Star

(12)

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Most Helpful Favorable Review

16 out of 17 people found this review helpful.

Touching and Hard to Forget

This Colm Toibin novel is one of the best books I have ever read. I love the delicate, thoughtful prose. The dialogue - such a hard thing for most writers to pull off - feels very real, too, as does the depiction of the immigrant experience. Slowly, patiently, and very ...
This Colm Toibin novel is one of the best books I have ever read. I love the delicate, thoughtful prose. The dialogue - such a hard thing for most writers to pull off - feels very real, too, as does the depiction of the immigrant experience. Slowly, patiently, and very deliberately, Toibin drew me in by narrating from protagonist Eilis' point of view and even reviewing previously-described events from Eilis' perspective. I was lulled into that state you may associate with a good movie: as you become attached to the characters, your stake in a particular sort of ending increases. And herein lies Toibin's skill: he drew me in *twice* -- tricked me with no trickery -- such that his quietly-worded ending delivered me an indescribably powerful punch. Unbelievable.

posted by MJinPA on May 5, 2010

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Most Helpful Critical Review

8 out of 9 people found this review helpful.

Oversimplified and not enough plot

This is a simple and gentle story about a young woman's immigration to New York from Ireland in the years after WWII. Much of the novel contains her personal thoughts and her analyzing her future and decisions and life in general. It has an easy pace with lots of desc...
This is a simple and gentle story about a young woman's immigration to New York from Ireland in the years after WWII. Much of the novel contains her personal thoughts and her analyzing her future and decisions and life in general. It has an easy pace with lots of descriptive elements and a vast array of characters.

I really wanted to love this book, but it just seemed oversimplified. I think virtually anyone could have thought up the plot if they were given the basic elements (girl alone in big city, first real job, meeting new people, family crisis). In fact, at one point it felt like an After School Special.

While Toibin depicts the female brain very well in some areas, there are other things that don't ring true. For example, other than her work and classes, the main character seems to have no curiousity about the world in general, or about the exciting new country she has come to. In subjects such as racism and the Holocaust, not only does she know nothing but she has no interest in learning more. And while we hear much of her thoughts, some subjects she doesn't even visit mentally: when her female boss makes a sexual pass at her, she feels uncomfortable but never ponders it again. Yet she ponders so much more trivial stuff all the time throughout the book (what to wear or where to eat)
.
Additionally, while there are some tragic events, overall there doesn't seem to be enough conflict to make the story interesting. All the other characters are almost too good to be true, some crusty or cranky but all of them (excepting Miss Kelly) are big hearted and generous. Money is never really an issue, and things go amazingly smooth for such a huge life change. Again, that seems incredibly unrealistic. And the strange behavior of her fiance's moodiness, her mother's unpleasantness, and her landlady's suspicions are never really explored.

I intend to read more of his work (I have ordered the Blackwater Lightship) and I hope things become a bit more complex and realistic.

posted by SAHARATEA on January 2, 2010

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Sort by: Showing 21 – 40 of 154 Customer Reviews
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  • Posted August 23, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    Very Enjoyable Journey Between Two Cultures

    This was the first Colm Toibin book I read. Since I finished it, I have bought three others and already read two of them - all in the span of three weeks. His writing flows so easily and you want to read it to get to the end but you don't really want it to end. In this book you really feel you are in the neighborhoods where the characters "live" during the 1950s and you are observing every move they make. The settings are realistic and wonderfully described, the dialogue is genuine, the characters are likable. I would highly recommend it as an introduction to Toibin's writing and suggest readers consider his other books as well such as The Blackwater Lightship and The Heather Blazing - both as enjoyable as Brooklyn and taking place in now familiar Irish towns.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted June 30, 2009

    A Simple Tale Deftly Told

    One may find the writing very simplistic; however, the author does the difficult task of painting an exquisite story in small but effective strokes. It is easy to care about his characters and their lives. I predict that readers will remember the characters and their stories long after the flashy fiction fadesw from recall. The story resonates with the quiet brushes of truth

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted June 24, 2009

    I Also Recommend:

    Captivating!

    In this seemingly classic tale, Toibin unerringly hones in on a young girl's quest to find her true self. Cultured in an environment of self-negation, Eilis unwittingly plays the pawn to all those closest to her, miring her world in confusion, deception and avoidance. In this personal introduction to Colm Toibin, I have found a major talent; I found this selection to be a winner!

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 4, 2014

    Beautiful,romantic,heart warming by: Alexa

    I think this book is the best selling bookin the world. I rated this book a 5 star book. Once i started reading this book, i didnt want to put it down. So after you read this comment, find this book and read it. You will regret NOTHING!!!:)


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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 26, 2014

    Highly recommended, beautiful story and good reading!

    I enjoyed reading the story.. Very heartwarming !!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 4, 2014

    Not worth reading

    I saw the negative reviews, but purchased it anyway. I should have listened to the other responders. It was poorly written, and ended leaving the reader totally lost. I would never read another book by this author.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 22, 2014

    Loved it!

    I read this book a few years ago and thought it was wonderful. If you like irish immigrant stories you will love it. Really a surprise ending, just loved the whole book. Takes place in the 50's. Its so worth the read and crosses between brooklyn and ireland.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 20, 2014

    Flat narrative, flat characters make this an unexceptional read.

    Flat narrative, flat characters make this an unexceptional read. Eilis is almost unlikable as a character, and her hesitations make her seem somewhat manipulative at times.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 16, 2014

    Just ok

    It was a quick read but I an unclear what the point was. I was unable to care about any of the characters because they were all so flat and one sided. Some intersting characters were introduced but were then dropped. The main character was never really passionate about anything just let things happen to her. The end was simply dissappointing.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 24, 2014

    More to come..?

    Left me high and dry......was just getting good.....to be continued?

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 10, 2013

    not worth reading

    did not like

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 10, 2013

    well written

    Just finished this book and loved the way it was written. The characters were well developed, and very lifelike. Eilis was both likable and easy to hate as she wavered between one man and the other, unable and unwilling to make up her mind which life she wanted. However, the ending left me flat. She may have done the right thing, but I wanted more detail as to what happened after.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 13, 2013

    oM OMG

    Hate it

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 12, 2013

    ...

    The stupid review won't post. BN, do something about these glitches!!!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 12, 2013

    Very engaging book

    Loved this bok. Toibin paints wonderfully detailed characters who live and love in two vastly different but equally well drawn places. The town in Ireland is described with pitch perfect prose. Life in Brooklyn amid the ethnic and often insular world of 1950s Catholic parishes is painted equally well. The inner thoughts and conflicts of the main character ring so totally true, it is a testament to Toibin's talent that he is able to find such a nuaanced female voice.
    This is not an Irish romance novel. Issues are shown with realism...not through rose colored glasses. But if you are looking for a well written, realistic portrait of what life was actually like for Irish immigrants in the 1950s and 1960s -- on both sides of the ocean -- you won't find a better book. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 4, 2013

    Ty to brook.

    You got locked out go to next result

    0 out of 20 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted November 15, 2010

    more from this reviewer

    Blissful Brooklyn

    Imagine leaving everything one has ever known: family, culture, lifestyle, and moving 3,000 miles across the world. In Colm Tobin's "Brooklyn," Eilis Lacey completes the mind-boggling switch from a small town in Ireland to magnificent Brooklyn, New York. In a story filled with the unexpected and true love, Tobin uses believable characters and attention-grabbing plot to make "Brooklyn" an unforgettable read.

    The novel begins in the struggling Irish economy where qualified Eilis is unable to find a job. An opportunity arises for Eilis to journey to America to find work, but she is unsure of what to do. Leaving her fragile, aging mother, older, sophisticated mother, and the life she expected to live proves to be a heart wrenching and difficult decision.

    However, she makes her choice to leave Ireland and sails off to America. Life immediately takes off when Eilis gets a job and a boyfriend within the first few months of her arrival. As she is finally settling in, tragedy strikes at home and Eilis is required to return to Ireland. The extreme events that occur cause Eilis to question returning to America, her new life, and her true love.

    Throughout the novel Eilis' character grows and the reader can't help but become attached. Eilis starts as an unsure woman who tries her hardest to please everyone around her, but by the end she is confident and takes a stand for herself. This is shown specifically when Eilis returns to Ireland. She causes quite a bit of gossip with her newfound confidence, style, and personality.

    Just like Eilis, the plot starts unconfident and slow, but ends leaving readers attentive and excited. When the story leads to Eilis' decision to remain in Ireland or return to America, the suspense is unbearable.

    Readers are able to connect with not only the characters, but the conflicts they face. "Brooklyn" is an unforgettable book because of the intriguing plot and realistic characters. Colm Tobin captures the readers on page one and never let's go.

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 3, 2010

    I Also Recommend:

    Girl meets boy and learns about life.

    It was true to life in the era about shich it was written.

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  • Posted May 15, 2010

    I Also Recommend:

    Very Sweet Book

    The story was a very sweet, coming of age book.. the main character evolved as the story went on.. an easy, enjoyable read.

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  • Posted May 5, 2010

    more from this reviewer

    Brooklyn is an enchanting little novel!

    I very much enjoyed reading this book. Colm Toibin's words made me feel like I was the main character. The only critism I have, was wanting more. I felt the story didn't have enough of an ending. This was a great book for a rainy day and could be finished in a day.

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Sort by: Showing 21 – 40 of 154 Customer Reviews
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