JANUARY 2024: Brooklyn by Colm Tóibín – BROOKLYN and ENNISCORTHY

1st January 2024

Brooklyn by Colm Tóibín, novel set in Brooklyn.


Long Island is the long awaited sequel to the wonderful novel Brooklyn, coming in May 2024. It therefore seems like a good opportunity to re-run our original review of Brooklyn in anticipation of publication.

Enniscorthy in the 1950s. Ellis is a young woman, living with her family and after the death of her father, the balance within the family changes. She has the opportunity to move to Brooklyn for work and she is encouraged – pushed, even – by her sister and mother into going. She sets off by boat and arrives in a place that offers familiarity in one way, but in another it feels utterly alien, with peoples and customs that are new and intoxicatingly alien. The newly found freedom and her experiences all lead to her gaining her confidence and sense of self.

She starts to build her life, spread her wings but soon she has to return to Ireland, and the familiarity of her childhood environment knocks her back. She has to learn to balance her newly acquired emotional growth, built in New York with the expectations imposed once back home.

This is a simply told story and all the better for that. The author is a gifted storyteller, who clearly sets out the narrative and invites the reader in. It is almost a coming-of-age story with a beautiful sense of place and time, and I am delighted that I will get to meet Ellis once again in the sequel, Long Island.

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