Brooklyn by Colm Tóibín

Brooklyn Brooklyn by Colm Tóibín

My rating: 4 of 5 stars
After the very high-brow literary writing of The Master, the style here is very different, more prosaic. The style reflects the way Eilis feels about travelling from her little Irish town, where she practically knows every inhabitant, to Brooklyn, in New York, where she's inundated with humanity of every colour and creed.

She's going to the States to work because at home in Ireland she cannot find work of any kind except working for an uppity shop owner. An Irish priest has travelled from across the waters to help pave the way for her to work in another shop, a much bigger one selling clothes items. He arranges for her to study bookkeeping and to stay at the lodgings of a Mrs Kehoe, who only takes in Irish occupants.

Most of the time she goes to work, comes back for dinner and then bed, or for her bookkeeping classes after work, and gets homesick most of the time. She doesn't have time for anything else, not even for looking up at New York's skyscrapers - the writing here never even alludes to them!

She meets an Italian boy at a dance organised by the church. Their relationship grows despite the uncertainty of her feelings towards him. This uncertainty nearly draws her into another man's arms when she has to go back to Ireland after her sister Rose's funeral. Will she or won't she, is what you'll be wondering. Her Italian boyfriend has persuaded her to secretly marry him before she leaves the States.

The story, the writing style: they are all very straightforward, no linguistic twists, so that this book will cater to even a reader who normally shuns so-called literary novels, especially one, like this book, which was shortlisted for the Booker.

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