To avoid causing any unwanted spoilers, the below synopsis has been taken from the Wikipedia page, because if I write it myself I won’t be able to contain myself:
Young Irish immigrant Eilis Lacey navigates her way through 1950s Brooklyn. Lured by the promise of the USA, Eilis departs Ireland and the comfort of her mother’s home for the shores of New York City. The initial shackles of homesickness quickly diminish as a fresh romance sweeps Eilis into the intoxicating charm of love. But soon, her new vivacity is disrupted by her past, and Eilis must choose between two countries and the lives that exist within.
*Please note: I received this book gratis in order to provide a review. This review is my honest opinion and is unaffected by the receipt of this for free.*
Brooklyn is a heart-breaking romance. I loved this book from start to finish. Eilis was a complex woman throughout and her flawed nature was intriguing. When she’s in Brooklyn she learns to make it her home but as soon as she revisits Ireland, her life in the US slips into a fantasy. Her grip on reality is both cemented and almost ethereal. It has an untold realism to it that I’ve not read in previous characters.
I won’t go so far as to say what happens in this book but the twist in Part 3 is unthinkable. You’re aware based on the blurb that something bad is going to happen but there’s nothing to prepare you for the heart-wrenching reality of what happens.
The familial bonds present in Brooklyn are both proper and somewhat inexplicable – as any bond between blood should be from the outside. However as the book is written from Eilis’ perspective the connection to her mother feels very estranged especially towards the latter half of the novel.
Her relationships with Tony and Jim are a fascinating aspect of the plot. I found Tony to be a lovely gentlemen and particularly likeable throughout. His love for Eilis is both pure and romantic as ever! So I felt a particular disdain towards his relationship with Eilis. I am 100% team Tony. I also found myself confused about how I felt towards Eilis as a character during this part. Normally characters develop their morals throughout the book but I felt like she went a bit backwards as soon as she went back to Ireland. Like everything that was happening was as if she never left.
Toibin’s writing is encapsulating. His descriptions of Brooklyn’s Irish culture and the 1950’s was truly insightful and I felt like I’d jumped back somewhat 65 years while reading it. The brazen discussions of women shaving but not having male visitors in an evening was an interesting dichotomy that illustrated the state of feminism at the time.
The film comes out in few weeks and I am looking forward to seeing how it will pan out on the big screen!