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Brooklyn [Large Print] [Hardcover]

Colm Toibin
3.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (7 customer reviews)

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Book Description

July 2009 Platinum Readers Circle (Center Point)
Hauntingly beautiful and heartbreaking, Colm Tóibín's sixth novel, Brooklyn, is set in Brooklyn and Ireland in the early 1950s, when one young woman crosses the ocean to make a new life for herself.

Eilis Lacey has come of age in small-town Ireland in the years following World War Two. Though skilled at bookkeeping, she cannot find a job in the miserable Irish economy. When an Irish priest from Brooklyn to sponsor Eilis in America -- to live and work in a Brooklyn neighborhood "just like Ireland" -- 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, a blond Italian from a big family, slowly wins her over with patient charm. He takes Eilis to Coney Island and Ebbets Field, and home to dinner in the two-room apartment he shares with his brothers and parents. He talks of having children who are Dodgers fans. But just as Eilis begins to fall in love with Tony, devastating news from Ireland threatens the promise of her future.

By far Tóibín's most instantly engaging and emotionally resonant novel, Brooklyn will make readers fall in love with his gorgeous writing and spellbinding characters.

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"A classical coming-of-age story, pure, unsensationalized, quietly profound." -- Pam Houston, O, the Oprah Magazine

"A beautifully rendered portrait of Brooklyn and provincial Ireland in the 1950s... Toibin writes about women more convincingly, I think, than any other living, male novelist."-- Zoe Heller, author of The Believers

"A compelling characterization of a woman caught between two worlds... A fine and touching novel, persuasive proof of Tóibín's ever-increasing skills and range."-- Booklist (starred review)

"[A] masterly tale... There is not a sentence or a thought out of place."-- Irish Times

"Colm Toibin leads a generation of Irish novelists... His generation's most gifted writer of love's complicated, contradictory power."-- Los Angeles Times

"Toibin's prose is as elegant in its simplicity as it is complex in the emotions it evokes."-- The New York Times Magazine

"Reading Tóibín is like watching an artist paint one small stroke after another until suddenly the finished picture emerges to shattering effect."-- The Times Literary Supplement (U.K.)

"A quiet masterpiece."-- The Express (U.K.)

About the Author

Colm Tóibín is the author of four previous novels, The South, The Heather Blazing, The Story of the Night, and The Blackwater Lightship, which was shortlisted for the 1999 Booker Prize. He lives in Dublin.

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Customer Reviews

Most helpful customer reviews
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Staggering in its simplicity. Aug. 26 2009
By Schmadrian TOP 1000 REVIEWER
As a reader, when I read a novel, especially when I'm 'reviewing' one, in the end, my primary question is: 'Am I glad I spent the time on it?'

As a writer, when I read a novel (or a screenplay, or article, or any other piece of writing), especially when I'm 'reviewing' one, in the end, my primary question is: 'Would I like to have written it?'

In the case of Tóibín's 'Brooklyn', the answers would be, in order, 'Yes', and 'No'.

'Brooklyn' was such a strange animal to me. I write as I speak, as I converse, as I express myself in most ways: pithiness rarely rules the day. So to have such a poignant tale told with such reserve, by way of a narrative that's not that far off point-form...this style of writing is not my default choice. However, perhaps because of its -to me, maybe just to me- unusual qualities in this regard, it found a special place in my heart. Its quirkiness was endearing...and I do not mean that in a patronizing way in the least. (For the record, my heroes are John Irving, Pat Conroy, Mark Helprin and Ann-Marie MacDonald. One of my favourite stretches within a novel would be the first forty-or-so pages of Don Delillo's 'Underworld'. Now *that* is writing.) Yes, I'd be curious to read a 'filled-out' version of this 269-page threadbare novel. Yes, there were times I longed for 'more'. But its charms...and its effectiveness...were beyond question for me. So yes, I'm glad I spent the time reading it, I enjoyed it a ton.

But I could never see writing it. If I tried to accomplish even a short story cut from the same cloth, it would, no doubt, be terribly affected, and if successful, more an exercise in determination than creation.
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12 of 15 people found the following review helpful
Set in Ireland and Brooklyn in the 1950's this rather sad, melancholy novel traces the gradual maturing of Eilis Lacey who leaves her homeland and her beloved home for a time to work in America, leaving her mother, her sister Rose, and her friends. Living in the small village of Enniscorthy and still young and full of hopes and dreams, Eilis finds work at a shop, but the kindly Father Flood, the family pastor instills in Eilis a sense of adventure even as she bears the knowing gossip of her friends and the constant pressure from her mother to cross the Atlantic to seek her fortune. With Eilis's older bothers long gone to England for work, she grows older, always in the shadow of Rose, an avid golf player who seems to become ever more glamorous over the years. Elias is proud of her sister, of how she takes care of her appearance and whom she mixes with, so its not surprising that Eilis heeds her advice and tries to bury all of the fear and dread that she's going to lose her world in Ireland forever. She was looking forward to America and leaving home for the first time. America might be foreign but there was also "an almost compensating glamour attached to it."

Throughout her journey, Eilis is surrounded by characters who seem to have the best of intentions. Luckily, the kindly blond haired Georgina helps Eilis on the stormy voyage when she's wracked with sea sickness as she vomits up all of her boiled mutton amidst all of the shuddering and lunging as the huge ocean liner moves forward. Upon her arrival on Brooklyn, Ellis cannot believe the extent of her naiveté as she's forced to put up with the muddy humidity of summer and the freezing winters with the biting wind, carrying ice.
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5.0 out of 5 stars This is a must read Oct. 30 2013
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
If you are a fan of Colm Toibin's work, Brooklyn will not disappoint you. It is at the same time elegantly written and a page-turner.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Brooklyn Feb. 4 2013
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
The book was very good. It revived memories of what life was like after the War and how relationships were given time to slowly develop. The ending I thought was very rushed and disappointed me after the rest of the book being so good.
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