Slowly catching up on the books I've been reading in the last few weeks. Brooklyn by Colm Toibin is the last on the list. I'd never read anything by this author, so I really didn't know what to expect - I was worried it was going to be heavy going, but it wasn't one bit. It reads very easily, and yet the main character in it, Eilis Lacey, a young woman from Enniscorthy who emigrates to America in the 50s, has great depth and personality. It seems that a lot of decisions are made for her - going to America is not her choice, a job is found for her, and accommodation, but she complies, and, over time, once home-sickness has subsided, she starts to grow in confidence, and to enjoy her new life. But of course, she gets the dreaded call from home, and has to go back for a short while. How will she fit back into her old life? Ultimately, what life will she choose for herself? Or will she let others make the decisions for her, in Ireland or in New York?
I really got into this book - I found Eilis a very engaging character, although at times I wanted to tell her to get a grip of her own life, and stop letting others make all the big decisions. One thing I found particularly interesting was her feeling of disconnectedness (is there such a word?) when she came back to Ireland. It is home, everything is familiar, yet she feels a stranger there, not quite in phase with the pace and the people, and everybody seems to be conspiring to find reasons for her to stay. And as days go by, Brooklyn seems to drift further and further away, a distant, dreamy world.
I'm not sure the ending is the one I would have chosen, although it is the one I was hoping for, but it makes sense in the context of her personality. It seems quite fitting too, and loops the loop on the story nicely. Another one to add to MHBD's recommended books.