Colm Toibin and Brooklyn: The emperors new clothes?

(25 Posts)
tormentil Fri 13-Nov-15 17:03:12

I caught the tail end of a R4 discussion this morning - about Colm Toibin's 'brilliant novel', Brooklyn and the 'making of the movie'. And everyone is very proud of themselves.

I read Brooklyn a few years ago and thought it was an overhyped love story. I still don't get it. There is nothing brilliant about it at all - or have I missed something?

PurpleWithRed Fri 13-Nov-15 17:11:17

Can I join your society please? I thought it was nice enough but not spectacular and I won’t be bothering with the movie. I was quite surprised when I realised it was supposed to be ‘brilliant’ and special. Call me a grumpy old cow but if it had been written by a woman I wonder if there had been so much hype.

Dp loved it. I thought it was boring as fuck and didn't finish it.

tormentil Fri 13-Nov-15 17:48:40

Glad I'm not alone. Thank you PurpleinRed, let's make an 'I don't understand Brooklyn' society.

RemusLupinsBiggestGroupie Did you find out what there was to love?

AuntGertrude Fri 13-Nov-15 17:52:37

I was unimpressed and imagine I would feel the same at the film (the trailer suggests it's just the same as the book).

DuchessofMalfi Fri 13-Nov-15 18:55:27

I read it a couple of years ago and thought it a nice enough story but, like others have said, I didn't think it a great novel. But I am going to reread it as I would quite like to see the film. His more recent novel Nora Webster I thought dull and I didn't enjoy it at all. Was quite disappointed in fact. I loved his earlier novel The Blackwater Lightship. That doesn't feel like it was written by the same person.

I didn't get far enough to see if there was anything to love.

SwedishEdith Fri 13-Nov-15 19:16:31

I was very underwhelmed with it when I read it. But I kept reading that its understatement and quiet was his skill. Hmm, dunno, think I should try again with that knowledge.

WhataRacquet Fri 13-Nov-15 23:44:06

I couldn't finish it either. I thought it was boring too and I was amazed at all the praise it got.

I read Ellis Island by Kate Kerrigan and thought it was a better book on a very similar theme even though some of it was far fetched.

I don't think Colm Tobin writes well from a woman's perspective.

I would watch the film because I like Julie Walters.

Flangeshrub Sat 14-Nov-15 01:34:10

I found it kind of 'sweet' but a run of the mill dull story. I agree - emperor's new clothes.

DuchessofMalfi Sat 14-Nov-15 06:10:02

I thought Academy Street by Mary Costello dealt in greater depth the loneliness of the single woman starting a new life in a new country. When I started reading it I thought it was going to be just a rip off of Brooklyn but it took a different turn and for the better. I'd recommend reading that one and comparing the two novels.

squidgyapple Sat 14-Nov-15 10:33:12

Yes I heard that discussion too. I've read the book and while it's a nice enough book I certainly wasn't blown away by it.

I can't actually remember much of the plot apart from <Spoiler Alert> she moves to Brooklyn!

hackmum Sat 14-Nov-15 13:16:02

I thought it was beautifully written and understated.

DuchessofMalfi Sat 14-Nov-15 14:02:53

That's what I had heard about it, hackmum and wanted to believe that. I don't dislike the novel, but just can't see the greatness of it. Have you read Nora Webster? The two novels are linked through characters and the same town in Ireland.

I think I need to go back and read some of his earlier novels and compare.

Moln Sat 14-Nov-15 14:06:13

I thought it was a rose tinted self pitying flavoured sleeping pill

DuchessofMalfi Sat 14-Nov-15 14:13:34

I really hope he's not reading this blush Whenever I hear him interviewed on the radio he comes across as such a thoroughly likeable decent kind of person and that makes me feel a bit guilty for not liking his novels more.

SwedishEdith Sat 14-Nov-15 14:17:21

He's probably benefited from writing a novel with the same name as a currently cool place. Possibly accounts for the recent rediscovery of Stoner - although I loved that. That was also understated and carefully written.

scarlettf0x Sat 14-Nov-15 14:20:27

I agree, my mum saw the film and we were saying yesterday how the story was a very similar theme to a couple of Kate Kerrigan's books. I can't remember their titles but they followed ordinary women emigrating to America in the early part of the last century. They were very good for what they were, but Kate Kerrigan, being a woman wasn't offered a movie script or a booker prize. She was lucky her books didn't get a pink cover.

OnlyHereForTheCamping Sat 14-Nov-15 14:22:40

I remember loving it. Nora Webster bored the hole off me though

hackmum Sat 14-Nov-15 14:55:49

Duchess - yes, I have read Nora Webster, and liked that too.

I find it difficult to say very much about either of them because I tend to forget the details of books quite soon after I've read them. My feeling about Toibin is he's a very gifted writer, and with both those books decided to do something quite simple and old-fashioned, and did it very well. But I couldn't truthfully say much more than that.

Deedeecupcake Sat 14-Nov-15 15:15:46

I enjoyed the book but wouldn't say it was amazing or brilliant. Just a nice easy read with nothing too complicated or harrowing in it.
On a side note, the reason why he used Enniscorthy as the base town in those two books is because that's where he's from! The detail he uses in Brooklyn about the town is amazing and in fairness to the film, the detail is there as well.

thenewbroom Wed 25-Nov-15 00:27:48

One of my favourite books of all time... intensely moving and beautifully written smile.

hollyisalovelyname Sat 02-Jan-16 20:37:52

I loved the film. I havdn't read the book.
My friend who lives in Enniscorthy said it WAS just as depicted in the book and her mother remembers the awful shopkeeper.

antimatter Sun 03-Jan-16 05:06:54

I loved both Brooklyn and Nora Webster.

Quogwinkle Sun 03-Jan-16 06:51:50

I haven't seen the film yet. I want to but will have to wait for it to come out on DVD. I've read Brooklyn twice now but something just doesn't draw me into it fully, the same with Nora Webster. I have read other novels by Colm Toibin and liked them so not really sure what went wrong for me with these two. Maybe it was all too brief - it could be that it was an epic novel that could have expanded out for another two hundred pages, and too much was left out, unsaid. Don't know.

Holly - interesting that your friend's mum remembers the town from that era. Does she know Colm Toibin/his family too? He depicted the claustrophobic small town life well, where everyone thinks they have the right to know everyone else's business.

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