Colm Toibin’s book, “Brooklyn,” is set in Brooklyn and Ireland in the early 1950s when a young woman crosses the ocean to make a new life for herself.
Eilis Lacey, who lives with her mother and sister in small-town Ireland, is an aspiring bookkeeper who cannot find a job in the miserable Irish economy. When an Irish priest from Brooklyn offers to sponsor Eilis in America, she decides she must go, leaving her fragile mother and outgoing sister behind. After a rough crossing on the ship from England, Eilis gets settled in a rooming house for women, finds a job at Bartocci’s department store, and when she least expects it, finds love. Tony, an Italian from a big family, slowly wins her over with his patient charm. He introduces her to the sights and sounds of New York City, takes her home to meet his family and talks about the future of his business plans and of having children who are Dodger fans. Just as Eilis is falling in love with New York and Tony, she receives devastating news from Ireland that threatens the promise of her future. She returns home and discovers not only her transformation but also those from her past. Now she must face the decision to stay in Ireland or go back to the more exciting life she has begun to create for herself in Brooklyn.
“Brooklyn” is a classical coming-of-age story, pure and magically quiet. Toibin records Eilis’ cautious adventures matter of factly, as if she were writing them herself in her journal. This is for anyone who has ever moved, knowing that to emigrate is to become a foreigner in two places at once. CV
Donna Kalsch enjoys being outdoors and loves to cook.