Review: Brooklyn by Colm Tóibín

Challenge Criteria: A book you can finish in a day.


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. Arriving in a crowded lodging house in Brooklyn, Eilis can only be reminded of what she has sacrificed.

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.

Image via Goodreads

NB: This will be reviewed in regards to the novel and will not reference the film (which I really liked, by the way, and cried real tears to).

What I liked:

I have probably never related to a main character more than I did Eilis Lacey. I had also emigrated when I read this, I’d suffered the same homesickness, the same fear when looking at the suitcase you’ll next open in a new home. Eilis is the literary embodiment of anyone who’s left their home shore, be it Wexford or Warsaw.

The brevity of this book (it comes in at 250 pages) makes it a great quick read, but it still has plenty of meat in it – the aforementioned homesickness, the duty to home when you do return, the difficulty in settling to a new culture. It’s a fantastic look at life in the 1950s, a time when people left Ireland in their thousands.

The love story between Eilis and Tony is also incredibly cute – what woman doesn’t want to be courted the way Eilis was?

What I didn’t like:

I wasn’t entirely a fan of Eilis’ treatment of her marriage when she came to Ireland. There’s no shame in it, girl. I wasn’t very impressed that it took someone in the town finding out about the marriage to remind Eilis she had a husband she loved. I know out of sight out of mind etc, but it didn’t seem very realistic that she would fall out of love so quickly with a man she’d married just a few weeks before.

Out of five?:

Five. Without doubt.


6 thoughts on “Review: Brooklyn by Colm Tóibín

  1. I’ve never read this but it looks so good! I love quick reads like this because I tend to lose focus easily – I will definitely be keeping an eye out for this one!

    Jemma |

  2. I saw the film when it came out an absolutely loved it but I haven’t read the book. I might see if I can pick it up cheap and give it a go!

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