Sunday, July 22, 2012

Brooklyn by Colm Toibin

Colm Toibin's Brooklyn has an engaging cast of characters and rich details of everyday life in both Enniscorthy, Ireland, and in an Irish Catholic parish in Brooklyn in the early 1950s. Ellis Lacey is the central character. She is serious, sensible and unafraid of hard work.

There are few job prospects for a young woman in a village in Ireland in that era, so Ellis reluctantly emigrates to New York City, where she gets a job in a department store. Ellis battles homesickness, her nosy landlady, and the petty intrigues of her fellow boardinghouse residents. She also falls in love, in her slow and steady way. When a tragedy at home forces her to return to Enniscorthy, Ellis is very different from the naive woman she once was and her options for the future are much wider.

I loved getting to know Ellis and watching her transform. Listening to Kristen Potter's narration of the Blackstone audiobook [7.5 hours], I felt immersed in an earlier time. Thanks to Potter, I now know that the name 'Ellis' is pronounced 'Aileash.'

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