Monday, August 9, 2010

Brooklyn - Book Review

Utah Dad recently traveled for business. I talked to him on the phone one evening and sheepishly he mentioned that he had spent some extra money. Curious, I asked how much and he apologized profusely for spending full price for a book. I certainly wasn't going to get upset that he bought a book. While I prefer to buy used books, I'm not opposed to buying them new occasionally. I just wanted to know which one.

It turns out that Utah Dad didn't read more than twenty pages while in his hotel room, but he brought the book home for me.

Brooklyn was absolutely delightful. Unobtrusive and subtle, Toibin writes the story of Eilis Lacey, a young Irish girl. Through arrangements made by her mother and sister, Eilis leaves her small Irish town and family to emigrate to America in the mid-twentieth century. She is sponsored by a priest who finds her work and a room in Brooklyn. There she finds love, an education and a future. But the lure of home is strong and she must finally decide for herself what her future will be.

Toibin writes so well that the reader hardly notices the masterpiece he is delicately creating. While I was reading the novel, I found myself comparing his style frequently to Henry James. Later, I discovered that Toibin is best known for his novel The Master which portrays the life of novelist James. I only wish I could write like that.

The most wonderful thing about the book is the naive and sweet yet complex character of Eilis. She lets others make her decisions. She lives life carefully, trying to please everyone and offend no one. She is a completely believable character.

Reading this novel is much like getting cozy before a fire and listening to a grandmother tell her story of young love. There is nothing flashy about this book. It simply rings true.

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