Brooklyn, the story about an Irish emigrant to America reminds to its reader painful past of diaspora (the movement of a population from its original homeland).
Eilis, young girl living in a small Irish village, where everyone knows everyone and everything, is given a chance to leave her homeland and set off on a journey to New York. Saying bye to her family for the first time is accompanied with dangerous homesickness in her new home, despite the fact Eilis has a good job and bearable house to live in. Yet, it is love that causes that Eilis finally leaves her past behind and embraces her new life in Brooklyn. But the death in her family brings her back to Ireland where she must make a decision - if she erases her American past and stays in the familiar country.
The life she had lost and would never have again.
Colm Tóibín' s use of language brings back to life old Ireland and fresh youth of America with all their beauty and sorrows. The book is split into three parts with chapters of different lengths and importance, nevertheless, together it builds up an impressive mosaic of Eilis' life. Tóibín is able to create a reliable young character, so the reader is pulled right into the middle of her life in Ireland, and does not have time to leave it until the last page of the book. Eilis' innocence and politeness engages the reader, who wishes that she loses her naivety to protect herself in the big world of dreams. Once in Brooklyn, Tóibín does not omit any detail from the American life fifty years ago, with all its positives and negatives. The multinationalism of Brooklyn, Irish dances, the question of colour, and the trip to the beach are some of the examples of these small details. Although the book has a fluent pace with many interesting events, one of the most powerful parts of the book is when Eilis' homesickness deprives her of her joy in life. The other heart-breaking part comes when Eilis must choose between her heart and home, between her love and sense.
Brooklyn changes every day .
The only weakness of the book, which could possible put off its reader, is when Tóibín includes chapters with seemingly no greater importance to the overall story. Sometimes the description of surrounding replaces Eilis' actions and feelings. Yet, this little detail is easily trumped by the story of the Irish emigrant who leaves everything to define her future.
P.S. I saw the movie of the same name before reading the book. And this is one of the rare times when I actually cannot complain about the film version. Saoirse Ronan embodies her character, and her charming Irish accent is just icing on the cake.