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Brooklyn: A Novel

Toibin, Colm

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From the award-winning author of The Master, a hauntingly compelling novel—by far Tóibín’s most accessible book—set in Brooklyn and Ireland in the early 1950s about a young woman torn between her family in Ireland and the american who wins her heart.

Eilis Lacey has come of age in small-town Ireland in the years following World War Two. Though skilled at bookkeeping, Eilis cannot find a proper job in the miserable Irish economy.

When an Irish priest from Brooklyn visits the household and offers to sponsor Eilis in America—to live and work in a Brooklyn neighborhood "just like Ireland"—she realizes she must go, leaving her fragile mother and sister behind.

Eilis finds work in a department store on Fulton Street, and studies accounting at Brooklyn College, and, when she least expects it, finds love. Tony, a blond Italian, slowly wins her over with persistent 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. Eilis is in love. But just as she begins to consider what this means, devastating news from Ireland threatens the promise of her new life.

With the emotional resonance of Alice McDermott’s At Weddings and Wakes, Brooklyn is by far Tóibín’s most inviting, engaging novel. 

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Review:

Amazon Best of the Month, May 2009: Committed to a quiet life in little Enniscorthy, Ireland, the industrious young Eilis Lacey reluctantly finds herself swept up in an unplanned adventure to America, engineered by the family priest and her glamorous, "ready for life" sister, Rose. Eilis's determination to embrace the spirit of the journey despite her trepidation--especially on behalf of Rose, who has sacrificed her own chance of leaving--makes a bittersweet center for Brooklyn. Colm Tóibín's spare portrayal of this contemplative girl is achingly lovely, and every sentence rings with truth. Readers will find themselves swept across the Atlantic with Eilis to a boarding house in Brooklyn where she painstakingly adapts to a new life, reinventing herself and her surroundings in the letters she writes home. Just as she begins to settle in with the help of a new love, tragedy calls her home to Enniscorthy, and her separate lives suddenly and painfully merge into one. Tóibín's haunted heroine glows on the page, unforgettably and lovingly rendered, and her story reflects the lives of so many others exiled from home. -- Daphne Durham

About the Author:

Colm Tóibín is the author of six novels including The Blackwater Lightship and The Master, both shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize, and the winner of a Los Angeles Times Book Prize. His nonfiction includes The Sign of the Times and Love in a Dark Time. He writes frequently for such publications as The London Review of Books and The New York Review of Books. He was a fellow at the Center for Scholars and Writers at New York Public Library, and has taught at Stanford, Princeton, and American universities, as well as the New School, in the United States. His books have been translated into eighteen languages.

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