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Book set in New York (Brooklyn – one of the best travel books?)

8th January 2014

Brooklyn by Colm Tóibín was awarded the 2009 Costa Novel Award, and of course is a book set in New York – Brooklyn. Clean, clear writing that spurs the reader into turning page after page!


Brooklyn, Enniscorthy

It also features on the Huff Post’s ’10 Greatest Travel Books of All Time’ blogpost and the following are their ultimate top 10 choices:


Mexico, USA


Pamplona, Paris


California, Chile


Koh Phi Phi, Thailand


Italy, Mediterranean















Asia Central/South East






(What? No top reads on mainland Africa? Never mind – we can always help Ian Crouch and Huff Post out there!). Do add your suggested titles for the Greatest Travel Books of All Time below in the Comments area – love to see what you have to say!

So, back to Brooklyn …..

Eilis has grown up in Enniscorthy, County Wexford, where opportunities for young women are few and far between. Her sister Rose is the star of the family, with a job, beaus, golfing skills and a smart sense of dress that leaves Eilis in the shade. Yet it is Rose who spots the opportunities for her available in the States and with the help of a visiting Parish Priest from Brooklyn, engineers an opening for Eilis across the Atlantic. And so, with a heavy heart Eilis sets off for the bright lights of a new and unknown future.

She soon settles into lodgings with her Irish landlady, Mrs Kehoe, and her household of immigrant women. A colourful cast of characters come home to eat and sleep and mix, each searching out their future. Eilis is soon courted by Tony who introduces her to his family, and he begins to forge plans for their future. You can sense her reticence at being pulled in to a relationship, as she studies for her accountancy exams. An event back home soon brings her back to Ireland, where there is the chance that her life will turn upside down, but it is small town gossip and small town mores that make her realise that her future lies in the broader horizon of New York.

It is a poignant and charmingly written book, full of period detailed that I was pleased to discover. And such a great cover (you know how we like to discuss the merits of covers!)

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