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Brooklyn by Colm Tóibín




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Adult Book of the Month

Brooklyn by Colm Tóibín
Published by Viking in 2009

Eilis Lacey leads a quiet life in 1950s Enniscorthy in County Wexford where she gets occasional work in the local shop. Condemning herself to remaining at home to look after her widowed mother, her glamorous sister Rose engineers an opportunity for Eilis to go to America. Despite her hesitation at undertaking such a momentous move, her family make it clear what is expected of her. Leaving behind the restrictions and snobberies of smalltown Ireland, Eilis is faced with the independence, challenges and liberation of America. Young, homesick and alone, she gradually adapts to her new life in Brooklyn with days at the till in a large department store, home in a boarding house, night classes in Brooklyn College and Friday evenings on the dance floor of the parish hall – until she realizes that she has found a sort of happiness. But when tragic news summons her back to Ireland, and the constrictions of her old life unexpectedly give way to new possibilities, she finds herself facing a terrible choice: between love and happiness in the land where she belongs and the promises she must keep on the far side of the ocean.

Toibin has written a tender story of great love and loss, and of the heartbreaking choice between personal freedom and duty. He expertly evokes the atmosphere of both small-town Ireland and of the immigrant experience of New York in the 50s. Eilis’s struggle for independence and self-expression and her search for belonging is movingly portrayed.

Brooklyn is literary fiction at its most accessible.

'It is impossible to read Toibin without being moved, touched and finally changed' Independent on Sunday

‘Toibin’s prose, always determinedly unshowy, is here distilled into its purest form yet’ Independent on Sunday

Colm Tóibín was born in Enniscorthy, Co. Wexford, Ireland in 1955. Both The Blackwater Lightship and The Master were shortlisted for the Booker Prize. The Master was the winner of The International Impac Dublin Literary Award in 2006.

By the same author
The Blackwater Lightship
The Heather Blazing
Homage to Barcelona
Love in a Dark Time
The Master
Mothers and Sons
The Sign of the Cross
The South
The Story of the Night