by Colm Tóibín
Kirsten Potter (Narrator)
Audible Audio Edition
Listening Length: 7 hours and 37 minutes
Program Type: Audiobook
Publisher: Blackstone Audio, Inc.
Audible.com Release Date: May 5, 2009
Publisher: Simon & Schuster/Scribner; Media Tie-In edition (April 17, 2009)
Length: 273 pages
Publication Date: May 5, 2009
Sold by: Simon and Schuster Digital Sales Inc
Blogger Purchase, Book Club read. No remuneration was exchanged and all opinion presented herein is my own except as noted.
It is Ireland in the early 1950s and for Eilis Lacey, as for so many young Irish girls, opportunities are scarce. So when her sister arranges for her to emigrate to New York, Eilis knows she must go, leaving behind her family and her home for the first time.
Arriving in a crowded lodging house in Brooklyn, Eilis can only be reminded of what she has sacrificed. She is far from home – and homesick. And just as she takes tentative steps towards friendship, and perhaps something more, Eilis receives news which sends her back to Ireland. There she will be confronted by a terrible dilemma – a devastating choice between duty and one great love. http://colmtoibin.com/content/brooklyn
I loved the word-smithing in this short novel; the language sounds beautiful. I liked the look into Eilis’s mind. I liked the attention to detail in time, place and the issues of that time and place. What I didn’t like was that time, place, and the issues therein are what takes up most of the story. Should people of colour be allowed to shop in the store where Eilis works, is she too fat to go to the beach, did the baseball team get robbed the previous season? These looks at the issues of the 1950s are not looked at analytically just through Eilis’ mind and as such don’t move the book forward.
This is also a character study for a bright young woman, who despite her intelligence and drive to study and understand business is a bit like Forest Gump in that she allows other people’s agendas and circumstance to direct her life. Where Gump didn’t have the mental faculties to make better choices, Eilis does – but her choices are not made better by her intelligence.
There are two stunning surprises in the book and one is heartbreaking. But, the upshot was that while the character study was intense, the character, Eilis, seems dissociated and a girl who expects nothing from life and who is without depth. I can imagine many immigrants were and are dissociated as the react to losing their home and culture; suddenly cast into America’s melting pot where not all the elements within have melted. And, who is in NYC post war; a time when anything was possible in the Big Apple. The book felt short on plot and the ending left me flat; feeling like the author lost interest in the story and manufactured a forced ending.
The narration is excellent: Potter overs good accents and lends character but doesn’t over act. I think this may be a better movie than a book but I have not yet seen it.
PRINT PUBLISHER: http://books.simonandschuster.com/Brooklyn/Colm-Toibin/9781501106477
AUDIO PUBLISHER: http://www.downpour.com/catalog/product/view/id/80119