If You Read One Book This Summer

Make it Brooklyn by Colm Toibin

Lest you think TiVo Lady vegetates in front of a television set all day, superfluous brain matter leaking out of her ears, think again!  TiVo Lady also reads, and she’s taking a break from TV to clue you in to Brooklyn: A Novel, by Colm Tóibín, 54, a superb Irish writer who effortlessly transports you to 1950’s Ireland and Brooklyn, New York.  It’s the story of smart girl Eilis Lacey, who can’t find a job in Enniscorthy, Ireland, and so is packed off by her older sister to New York, where a family priest has arranged a department store job for her.  The story is set in the years just after World War II, a time when immigrants had to travel by ocean liner to New York, and the trip took a full week—complete with seven days of nausea and vomiting. "A noise, as though the massive liner were creaking, appeared louder sometimes than the engine itself.  But, once back in the cabin, when she leaned against the door of the bathroom, she heard another sound, faint until she put her ear right up against the door, and then unmistakable, of someone retching.”
The beauty of the writing is in these everyday details: how lonely and strange Eilis feels so far from home; how she gets to work, spends her day, eats her meals, attends church dances and falls in love with an Italian boy named Tony, who, "despite his constant movements and his screaming at Frank to pay attention to some score or other, and his cheering followed by statements of pure despair, did not manage to irritate her even once.  She thought it was strange, and out of the side of her eye and sometimes directly, she started to watch him, noticing how funny he was, how alive, how graceful, how alert to things.”
The best way to convey how captivating this book is would be to quote the whole darn thing, right here.  But that would take too long to type, and it’s probably not legal, anyway, so go find the book and read it.  You won’t be sorry.

 

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