Sunday, March 27, 2011

Immigration Challenge - "Brooklyn" by Colm Toibin Review Amazon Best of the Month, May 2009: Committed to a quiet life in little Enniscorthy, Ireland, the industrious young Eilis Lacey reluctantly finds herself swept up in an unplanned adventure to America, engineered by the family priest and her glamorous, "ready for life" sister, Rose. Eilis's determination to embrace the spirit of the journey despite her trepidation--especially on behalf of Rose, who has sacrificed her own chance of leaving--makes a bittersweet center for Brooklyn. Colm Tóibín's spare portrayal of this contemplative girl is achingly lovely, and every sentence rings with truth. Readers will find themselves swept across the Atlantic with Eilis to a boarding house in Brooklyn where she painstakingly adapts to a new life, reinventing herself and her surroundings in the letters she writes home. Just as she begins to settle in with the help of a new love, tragedy calls her home to Enniscorthy, and her separate lives suddenly and painfully merge into one. Tóibín's haunted heroine glows on the page, unforgettably and lovingly rendered, and her story reflects the lives of so many others exiled from home. --Daphne Durham

My Thoughts
"Brooklyn" is set in the early 1950's in Ennescorthy, Ireland. Eilis Lacey is planning to immigrate to America orchestrated by her older sister Rose and Father Flood, a friend of the Lacey family. We watch (or read) as Eilis struggles with sea-sickness as she travels across the Atlantic, how she overcomes homesickness. Eilis struggles to adapt to living in an all Irish-girl's room & board, her job at Bartocci & Company (a department store), while making friends in Brooklyn. Eilis is starting to fall in love with a young Italian boy, Tony, when she is called back to Ireland due to a death in the family. Up to this point in the story, I could not get attached to the story line or the characters. With that said, I could not put my kindle down. I was hoping the story would pick up, and was determined to finish. While she is back in Ireland, Eilis is faced with the choice of her homeland or the new life she had built in America. I can't say that I was disappointed with the ending. I really felt the anquish that Eilis must have felt. I think it is always interesting reading a novel written by a male and narrated in the third-person of a female. Colm Toibin did a great job with this.

I am giving this story a C+ because of the ending and I will probably read another Troibin novel.

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