Wednesday, January 16, 2013


A beautifully written novel by the Irish author, Colm Toibin.  His writing flows so smoothly it's a pleasure to read - and sucks you into the lives of his characters.  This book focuses on Eilis Lacey, a young woman living in small town Ireland in the early 1950s.  She's unable to find work at home except for a Sunday job with an elderly shopkeeper who mistreats and underpays her.  So she and her widowed mother rely on the salary of her sister, Rose who works in an office and the small amounts her three brothers are able to send from England where they've gone to seek work.  One day Eilis' luck changes when an Irish Priest now living in Brooklyn arranges for her to immigrate to the US - he finds her work in a shop and an Irish boarding house to live in.
Eilis has a difficult crossing and suffers from terrible homesickness but eventually succeeds at the shop and begins night school courses in bookkeeping.  She also falls in love with Tony, the son of Italian immigrants, and is welcomed into his warm, though different family.  When everything seems to finally be going well for Eilis she must return home due to a family tragedy.  At first she feels out of place and longs to return to Brooklyn and Tony.  But soon her relationship with her mother improves, she gets back together with old friends, finds temporary bookkeeping work and is pursued by a local boy who'd snubbed her before she left.  At the end she's left with deciding where to pursue her future.  I won't give it away - but I think she makes the right choice.

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