Brooklyn: A Novel

Brooklyn: A Novel

by Colm Toibin
3.4 172

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Brooklyn: A Novel by Colm Toibin

Colm Tóibín’s New York Times bestselling novel—now an acclaimed film starring Saoirse Ronan and Jim Broadbent nominated for four Academy Awards including Best Picture—is “a moving, deeply satisfying read” (Entertainment Weekly) about a young Irish immigrant in Brooklyn in the early 1950s.

“One of the most unforgettable characters in contemporary literature” (Pittsburgh Post-Gazette), Eilis Lacey has come of age in small-town Ireland in the hard years following World War Two. When an Irish priest from Brooklyn offers to sponsor Eilis in America, she decides she must go, leaving her fragile mother and her charismatic sister behind.

Eilis finds work in a department store on Fulton Street, and when she least expects it, finds love. Tony, who loves the Dodgers and his big Italian family, slowly wins her over with patient charm. But just as Eilis begins to fall in love, devastating news from Ireland threatens the promise of her future.

Author “Colm Tóibín…is his generation’s most gifted writer of love’s complicated, contradictory power” (Los Angeles Times). “Written with mesmerizing power and skill” (The Boston Globe), Brooklyn is a “triumph…One of those magically quiet novels that sneak up on readers and capture their imaginations” (USA TODAY).

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781439149829
Publisher: Scribner
Publication date: 05/05/2009
Format: NOOK Book
Pages: 272
Sales rank: 20,492
File size: 3 MB

About the Author

Colm Tóibín is the author of seven novels, including The Master, winner of the Los Angeles Times Book Prize; Brooklyn, winner of the Costa Book Award; The Testament of Mary, and Nora Webster, as well as two story collections. Three times shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize, Tóibín lives in Dublin and New York.


Dublin, Ireland

Date of Birth:

May 30, 1955

Place of Birth:

Enniscorthy, County Wexford, Ireland


St. Peter's College, Wexford; University College, Dublin, B.A. in English and history

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Brooklyn 3.4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 172 reviews.
MJinPA More than 1 year ago
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.
SAHARATEA More than 1 year ago
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.
CelticReader More than 1 year ago
I enjoyed "Brooklyn" a great deal. The character of Eilis was complex in personality; the story was well-written and it drew me in. The ending was not quite what I expected (a good thing!) The cultural issues of post-WWII Ireland and the US rang true as well. A lovely read!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I agree with others that this novel was a bit drawnout. It was a nice story but it took too long to tell in my honest opinion. It left me wanting just a little more. Read this after you finish the other books on your list.
BennNB More than 1 year ago
Brooklyn is a quietly gripping story of a young woman finding her way through the challenges to her identity brought by an unchosen immigration from Ireland. Loss, uncertainty, the personal task of building a meaningful life in unfamiliar circumstances are managed with little guidance beyond her personal reflection - portrayed elegantly and believably by Toibin. The author's compassion for all of the characters gives this personal tale a sense of privileged peeking into the rich interior life of people who worked to live a life they themselves could respect. Also, Toibin crafted the story such that surprise can catch you as you look back at Ireland from the cold streets of Brooklyn.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I am not at all a fan of this book, disappointing considering the reviews on the author. The writing style was fine, however the plot was fairly uninteresting, the main character impossibly naive, drab and without a much of a mind of her own... she is molested by another woman and once the situation is over, she thinks nothing more of it; she has also never heard of the Halocaust. This is not a "cute" innocence but rather completly frustrating. The ending wraps up too quickly and will leave you unsatisfied. My book club chose this book and another book by an Irish author as we suspected they might pair well together and this one received low reviews from us all, mainly for the reasons above.
anonymousMK More than 1 year ago
"Brooklyn" gives the impression of being a good short story expanded into a dull novel. The first half of the book is merely a drawn out, rigidly chronological setting up of the second half. The characters are thinly drawn. Even the main character, the very passive Eilis, from whose point of view the story is told, remains a cipher who sort of sleepwalks into situations. The scenes of Ireland in the 1950s are the strongest part of the novel. This book is an easy read. So much so that at times it seems like something more suitable for the YA market. I am perplexed at the critical praise this novel received.
LorraineWA More than 1 year ago
I have to laugh a little as I write this review. I liked the book, enjoyed reading it, but still do now know why. Maybe this is what a good writer can do. Write on seemingly nothing and make it seem like something. The time and places (Ireland and Brooklyn) were not particularly interesting nor were the characters. None of them really did anything special except live their daily lives which were not interesting either. There you have it.
MarinaD1 More than 1 year ago
Colm is a very good writer but this is a little tedious in places. Interesting details but if he were a woman, this would be classified and mrketed as chicklit
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I picked up this book knowing what a great writer Colm Toibin is but upon reading I am disappointed. The story is very readable and the characters settings and history real yet so lightly dealt with. Through the eyes of the main character Eilis we see her small Irish town, its way of life and inhabitants including her mother, sister, girlfriends and employer. She then is sent to Brooklyn and again we are shown her life of work, night classes, church dances, boarding house, friends, and "romance" but nothing really strikes deep. Things happen, people come and go and Eilis seems in a fog. I was rather insulted that Toibin wrote her as how else can I say it, stupid. I know an immigrant woman's choices were limited in that time period but this girl had no personality or interests. She just went with the flow in a deliberate almost plodding way. I think what bothers me most is that there is so much that could have been dealt with and wasn't. Background about her professor, landlady, priest, sister, mother and even the homeless singer would have made this a meaty book of personalities, cultures and age to get into. They say less is more but in this book for me, it just wasn't enough.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I enjoyed reading the story.. Very heartwarming !!
KenCady More than 1 year ago
There really wasn't much about Brooklyn in this novel, at least not enough for it to merit the title. As it is, it is a love story about an immigrant girl who enjoys her new home in America, but then is forced to return to Ireland after a death in the family. What I liked about the book stopped at this point and unnecessary confusion reigned from that point on. Little of what happened in Ireland made sense given what had preceded it. Other than some location material, and Dodger talk, if you come to this book expecting to revisit Fulton Street and an older Brooklyn, there is no nostalgia here as Brooklyn is but a minor character.
AvidreaderHG More than 1 year ago
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.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
The whole time i was reading this it felt like I had picked up the book at a garage sale the old lady down the street was having. Nice story but the very beginning and very end were much better than the long mind numbing middle.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
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.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
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.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
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.
GrammiePoet More than 1 year ago
This is the story of a young Irish woman who emigrates to Brooklyn where she find a job and then marries a man who is not Irish. She travels to Ireland for a visit, considers staying there but ultimately realizes what she must do. This book is full of personalities - the village residents, the mother, the sister, and the boys. There are surprises and twists and turns. It's a satisfying read, especially for those fascinated by immigrant stories.
Pierce Harman More than 1 year ago
Descriptions here of the emotional life at once supremely tender and unsentimental. The work of a masterful hand.
Justsooze More than 1 year ago
"Colm Toibin's "Brooklyn" gently draws the reader into the life of a young Irish girl, Eilis Lacey. There is little work in post World War II Ireland. Her two older brothers had previously been forced to move to England to find work and due to the encouragement of her beloved older sister, Rose, and the sponsorship of a visiting priest from America, Eilis leaves the home she shares with Rose and their widowed mother and travels from a small town in Ireland to seek employment in Brooklyn. What I found most interesting was Eilis' gradual immersion into life in America, which was so different from the life she left behind. Brooklyn truly proves to be the land of opportunity for Eilis. She lives in a boarding house owned by an Irishwoman, finds work at a local department store and attends classes in bookkeeping at night. She meets a young Italian man, Tony, who introduces her to more of life in America. When a tragedy forces her to return to Ireland, she has to decide where her future lies. So much more than just the story of a young immigrant girl becoming an independent woman, Brooklyn itself, and the complexity, diversity and opportunity found there almost seems to be a character in the book."
eliseIL More than 1 year ago
Bland. The stoicism of the characters was reflected in the writing. I found it hard to find any connection to the characters, hard to follow Eilis' emotions and felt her constant desire to be alone might have been a mental issue. The story itself has been done before, numerous times. I think it's done better when the reader can sympathize with the new immigrant's struggle. It was a decent story that may start a good book club conversation, but I wouldn't recommend it to Jane Doe looking for a book.
DawnHS More than 1 year ago
Although the plot was original, and the writing craftsman-like, I couldn't care about any of the characters, or what happened to them. So the novel ultimately fails its most important test: making the reader relate to the characters. I don't recommend this book.
redheadedreaderMG More than 1 year ago
The story was a very sweet, coming of age book.. the main character evolved as the story went on.. an easy, enjoyable read.
lbmii More than 1 year ago
Not sure what all the hype is about. I found the characters dry and one sided. There were many characters brought in for a very small amount of time that didn't seem to have purpose. The city of Chicago, IL chose it as their ONE city ONE read book for 2010 and I was highly disappointed.
DebandRaven More than 1 year ago
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.