BROOKLYN : your journey to 1950s Brooklyn via fiction

  • Book: Brooklyn
  • Location: Brooklyn, Enniscorthy
  • Author: Colm Tóibín

Review Author: tripfiction



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

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 and covers are always important to attract the reader!

On our blog we discuss this post in terms of the Huffington Post’s top travel books of all times.

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