Like a few other books I’ve read recently, I ran out of time with the library book when it was new and couldn’t get a renewal so it went back on my TBR. Reading Ireland Month was the perfect reason to request it again. I got the audiobook for my daily commute and am so glad I did–I ended up listening to it at home even!
Eilis Lacey is a young Irish woman who has finished school, shows great promise, but like many, she can find no meaningful employment in post-World War II-era Ireland. So, with the help of her siblings, she leaves her beloved sister and her widowed mother behind and moves to America–to Brooklyn for a job in a department store and the chance to “better herself.”
I had to laugh as I read this one, remembering the little brother in the oft-shown clip from the movie of the little brother at dinner! I was pleased to see that he was a presence in part of the book. That aside, I loved this book. I loved how Eilis’ reticence combined with a sort of “piss off-ness” gave her an unusual depth for a fictional character. I loved that she just wasn’t sure, but still owned her decisions (as we’d say today).
I also loved that the book so clearly showed how “small town” an immigrant’s community can be–even an ocean away, even in one of the largest cities in the world. That was perfect.
I think the moment I liked best was her penance scene. Just one Hail Mary. One. Just one.
Close to flawless storytelling.
Brooklyn: A Novel by Colm Tobin
#readingirelandmonth20 or #begorrathon20