Audiobook Review: BROOKLYN by Colm Tóibín


So I’ve joined a new book group. Generally I don’t have good luck with book clubs since folks find my enthusiasm for books “off-putting”. Many years ago I was asked to leave a book club (filled with many women I did not know – a large group) because apparently my love of books and ability to chat about them made other people feel “insecure” (got to be honest, when I got THAT phone call, I thought they were joking; I mean who gets kicked out of a book club for liking books?!).

Anyways – I now am in a book group at my work and I figure: these gals are stuck with me EVERY DAY! So hopefully I won’t get booted.

We read BROOKLYN by Colm Tóibín. I had read his NORA WEBSTER (Review), and even though I do find that most of the popular Irish writers are brilliant writers, I find them to a be a slightly miserable lot. I have to say Tóibín captures life in its simplest, most basic form, shining a light past the veneer of what one shows to the everyday world and highlighting the starkness of emotion that lies beneath.

I purchased this book from Audible to listen to in the car. Kirsten Potter did an amazing job with the voices and accents. It runs for about 7 and a half hours.

Here’s the description from Amazon:

It is Enniscorthy in the southeast of Ireland in the early 1950s. Eilis Lacey is one among many of her generation who cannot find work at home. Thus when a job is offered in America, it is clear to everyone that she must go. Eilis heads for unfamiliar Brooklyn to a crowded boarding house. Slowly, the pain of parting is buried beneath the rhythms of her new life – until she begins to realize that she has found a sort of happiness. As she falls in love, news comes from home that forces her back to Ireland, where she finds new possibilities that conflict deeply with the life she has left behind in Brooklyn.


Eilis (which I’ve heard pronounced Ay-lis and Eye-lish depending on if it means “Alice” or “Elizabeth”) is a fairly typical young woman for her time. I have to say that her inability to really hold on to life and love or lust or feel joy or hate was muted for me.(apparently the movie is different). She seemed to just go back and forth wherever she was told to go and wasn’t a true player in her own future. I wanted to grab her by the shoulders and shake her and yell: “Go on out there and make your future! Don’t just accept what’s put in front of you!”.

Definitely lots of fodder for book group to discuss. And of course the writing is magnificent  in the depths within its simplicity (if you know what I mean).

If you’ve read BROOKLYN – or even seen the movie (which I have coming from Netflix) – let me know what you think!


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