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Brooklyn

Cover of Brooklyn

Brooklyn

A Novel
Borrow Borrow

Coming of age in small-town Ireland in the years following World War II, Eilis Lacey is one among many of her generation who cannot find a job in the miserable economy. When an Irish priest from Brooklyn offers to sponsor Eilis to live and work in America, she decides she must go, leaving her fragile mother and her charismatic sister behind.

Eilis takes up her new life in a crowded Brooklyn boarding house, working in a department store on Fulton Street. Slowly, the pain of parting is buried beneath the rhythms of her new life, until she finds a sort of happiness—and, when she least expects it, love—but then, devastating news from home threatens the promise of her future.

By far Tóibín's most instantly engaging and emotionally resonant novel yet, Brooklyn will make readers fall in love with his gorgeous writing and spellbinding characters.

Coming of age in small-town Ireland in the years following World War II, Eilis Lacey is one among many of her generation who cannot find a job in the miserable economy. When an Irish priest from Brooklyn offers to sponsor Eilis to live and work in America, she decides she must go, leaving her fragile mother and her charismatic sister behind.

Eilis takes up her new life in a crowded Brooklyn boarding house, working in a department store on Fulton Street. Slowly, the pain of parting is buried beneath the rhythms of her new life, until she finds a sort of happiness—and, when she least expects it, love—but then, devastating news from home threatens the promise of her future.

By far Tóibín's most instantly engaging and emotionally resonant novel yet, Brooklyn will make readers fall in love with his gorgeous writing and spellbinding characters.

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Awards-
About the Author-
  • Colm Tóibín's novel The Master won the International IMPAC Dublin Literary Award, Le prix du meilleur livre étranger, and the Los Angeles Times Book Prize and was shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize. His other books of fiction include The Story of the Night, The Blackwater Lightship, a finalist for the Man Booker Prize and the International IMPAC Dublin Literary Award, and the short-fiction collection Mothers and Sons. He was one of the 2008 Scotiabank Giller Prize judges in Toronto. He lives in Dublin, Ireland.

Reviews-
  • AudioFile Magazine An exceptionally subdued novel, BROOKLYN is enhanced by the velvety voice of Kirsten Potter, whose narration is skilled and personable. The quiet progress of protagonist Eilis as she journeys from small-town Ireland to postwar Brooklyn is enlivened by Potter's effortless delivery of accents and personalities. Various characters move through Brooklyn's streets and Eilis's life, and Potter is at the ready with distinct voices for each one. With its simple prose and plot, the story of Eilis's time in her new country might be overlooked without Potter's talents, which draw listeners in and keep them engaged. Potter takes an understated story and makes it well worth a listen. L.B.F. (c) AudioFile 2009, Portland, Maine
  • Publisher's Weekly

    March 23, 2009
    Signature

    Reviewed by
    Maureen Howard
    Colm Tóibín’s engaging new novel, Brooklyn
    , will not bring to mind the fashionable borough of recent years nor Bed-Stuy beleaguered with the troubles of a Saturday night. Tóibín has revived the Brooklyn of an Irish-Catholic parish in the ’50s, a setting appropriate to the narrow life of Eilis Lacey. Before Eilis ships out for a decent job in America, her village life is sketched in detail. The shops, pub, the hoity-toity and plainspoken people of Enniscorthy have such appeal on the page, it does seem a shame to leave. But how will we share the girl’s longing for home, if home is not a gabby presence in her émigré tale? Tóibín’s maneuvers draw us to the bright girl with a gift for numbers. With a keen eye, Eilis surveys her lonely, steady-on life: her job in the dry goods store, the rules and regulations of her rooming house—ladies only. The competitive hustle at the parish dances are so like the ones back home—it’s something of a wonder I did not give up on the gentle tattle of her story, run a Netflix of the feline power struggle in Claire Booth Luce’s The Women
    . Tóibín rescues his homesick shopgirl from narrow concerns, gives her a stop-by at Brooklyn College, a night course in commercial law. Her instructor is Joshua Rosenblum. Buying his book, the shopkeeper informs her, “At least we did that, we got Rosenblum out.”
    “You mean in the war?”
    His reply when she asks again: “In the holocaust, in the churben
    .”
    The scene is eerie, falsely naïve. We may accept what a village girl from Ireland, which remained neutral during the war, may not have known, but Tóibín’s delivery of the racial and ethnic discoveries of a clueless young woman are disconcerting. Eilis wonders if she should write home about the Jews, the Poles, the Italians she encounters, but shouldn’t the novelist in pursuing those postwar years in Brooklyn, in the Irish enclave of the generous Father Flood, take the mike? The Irish vets I knew when I came to New York in the early ’50s had been to that war; at least two I raised a glass with at the White Horse were from Brooklyn. When the stage is set for the love story, slowly and carefully as befits his serious girl, Tóibín is splendidly in control of Eilis’s and Tony’s courtship. He’s Italian, you see, of a poor, caring family. I wanted to cast Brooklyn
    , with Rosalind Russell perfect for Rose, the sporty elder sister left to her career in Ireland. Can we get Philip Seymour Hoffman into that cassock again? J. Carol Naish, he played homeboy Italian, not the mob. I give away nothing in telling that the possibility of Eilis reclaiming an authentic and spirited life in Ireland turns Brooklyn
    into a stirring and satisfying moral tale. Tóibín, author of The Master
    , a fine-tuned novel on the lonely last years of Henry James, revisits, diminuendo, the wrenching finale of The Portrait of a Lady
    . What the future holds for Eilis in America is nothing like Isabel Archer’s return to the morally corrupt Osmond. The decent fellow awaits. Will she be doomed to a tract house of the soul on Long Island? I hear John McCormick take the high note—alone in the gloaming with the shadows of the past
    —as Tóibín’s good girl contemplates the lost promise of Brooklyn.
    Maureen...

  • New Yorker "Tóibín's genius is that he makes it impossible for us to walk away."
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    Blackstone Audio, Inc.
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    All copies of this title, including those transferred to portable devices and other media, must be deleted/destroyed at the end of the lending period.

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A Novel
Colm Tóibín
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