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Book of the month: and April's Irish winner is... BROOKLYN by Colm Toibin (discussion Tue 27 April)

(93 Posts)
TillyBookClub Sun 28-Mar-10 23:30:55

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Driftwood999 Mon 28-Feb-11 19:48:55


Driftwood999 Mon 28-Feb-11 19:46:50


elkiedee Fri 30-Apr-10 23:26:39

I've just realised that I forgot all about the discussion - I planned reading it, I read it very quickly and finished it several days early. I loved reading it. And then the discussion completely slipped my mind. DS2 wasn't well on Tuesday night, but he went to sleep much faster than normal and I might have been able to get down before the end of the discussion slot.

I was glad that she went back to Brooklyn - I really didn't like Jim much, and I think she would have had a more interesting life in the US. Despite the housewife image, I think she might have been able to continue working or to return at some point, and I think she would have been freer about how to live her life in the US.

champagnesupernova Wed 28-Apr-10 23:28:34

I realised this afternoon that I had missed this and I so enjoyed the book. Hope we can pick up if Tilly gets the author on.
angry at self

Laugs Tue 27-Apr-10 21:52:15

Have you read anything else by Toibin by the way, or did you just pick Brooklyn up for this?

Laugs Tue 27-Apr-10 21:50:35

Only the odd episode, I haven't followed it. I saw one where Don Draper was reading Frank O'Hara's Meditations in an Emergency, looking a bit hmm, which I guess is 50s meeting 60s kind of period.

raggie Tue 27-Apr-10 21:40:18

Yes that's true. I remember being a bit confused at the time of reading, thinking at the time that the characters seemed so straight and prim but that it was the 50s, like (embarrassingly) Happy Days? Just goes to show how quickly things changed in a short space of time.

Only watched the first series of Mad Men so far but that chronicles the fast pace of social change in the early sixties - have you seen it?

Laugs Tue 27-Apr-10 21:37:12

Thanks Tilly! This has been my first time taking part and I really enjoyed it. Will have to get hold of the next one.

Laugs Tue 27-Apr-10 21:33:49

Come to think of it, life must have been so hard for women who came of age in the 50s when their choices in life were so limited, then to witness the 60s happening and this whole world of possibilities being open to girls just a generation younger.

raggie Tue 27-Apr-10 21:32:36

<snort! at Eilis becoming a hippie>

TillyBookClub Tue 27-Apr-10 21:31:58

I'm itching to ask the author if he had different endings in mind, or different dilemmas for her that ended up in the wastepaper bin. She came alive for me in a way that very few other characters ever have, and I'd love to know how he shaped her.

Will keep you posted on this thread when we do pin him down and get a date for a chat.

I'm heading to bed with May's Book of the Month now, thanks to all for a great evening, see you on Tue 25 May for the next one...

Laugs Tue 27-Apr-10 21:31:39

Raggie, I mean I would love a perfect sequel, but I just don't know how he could get it right. If she continued drifting and never making a decision on anything, it would get a bit frustrating. If she hit the Sixties and became a hippie and left Tony to live in a commune, it would make all this heartfelt indecision so pointless.

Laugs Tue 27-Apr-10 21:27:13

Yes, I think it's that realisation. If she hadn't married Tony, I think she'd have stayed in Ireland. And Tony knew that too.

raggie Tue 27-Apr-10 21:24:44

Laugs I'm torn between thinking it fits so much better not to know and yet wanting to know. I'm sure there could be plenty more in store for Eilis to drift through.

Laugs Tue 27-Apr-10 21:23:47

I wonder if she'll carry on studying and become an accountant, or if she'll give it all up once they're properly married.

TillyBookClub Tue 27-Apr-10 21:23:42

Me too, raggie. A slick black Brylcreemed hairdo. And the slightly needy, emotional side coupled with tough talking, showy-off side.

Weird, as I can't stand Pete and I did quite like Tony so not sure how I can place them together so closely.

I do wonder what would have happened if Tony hadn't made them get married. Just the sex wouldn't have prevented her marrying the Irish one, would it? That old biddy couldn't rule her future with that gossip, as long as the two of them decided it was ok. It is more Eilis realisation that she can't undo the marriage that sends her back, isn't it?

Laugs Tue 27-Apr-10 21:16:24

But there is some happiness isn't there? I definitely had a wee bit of envy for her lives both in Brooklyn and in Enniscorthy. Neither are really bad lives.

I do wonder what will become of her, although I hope there isn't a sequel as I don't want to be told. I think she's out there on her own now as a character, she's not Toibin's any more!

raggie Tue 27-Apr-10 21:14:12

Funny you should say that Tilly as I couldn't stop picturing Tony as Pete Campbell from Mad Men. I know he wasn't meant to look like that, but that's who he was in my head. hmm

TillyBookClub Tue 27-Apr-10 21:10:56

Laugs, I think you've nailed it - Eilis doesn't know what she wants, and she's like a cork bobbing about on a tide. The way her feelings and indecision are hinted at and exposed make her so incredibly real, but the conclusion is she doesn't really come to a conclusion, does she? It is always someone else who is pulling the strings (including Tony who masterminds the marriage, the house in Long Island etc). But she is complicit in all of it, even in her sister sending her away. She never fights any of it.

I'd love a sequel. I'm picturing her 10 years on as Betty Draper from Mad Men, going housewife crazy in suburbia while Tony strides along Madison Avenue.

Laugs Tue 27-Apr-10 21:10:54

Maybe she was? It hadn't occurred to me but would make sense.

Lottie66 Tue 27-Apr-10 21:10:05

I felt this book was an enjoyable read and hard to put down. It had a good story line. It was interesting reading how Ellis was changing as a person becoming more confident in herself. I was fascinated to read how Ellis coped with moving from the relative safety of her home town into the unknown. I thought how brave of her and I also thought it was probably her upbringing and values that helped her . I felt the ending was frustrating as it left you wondering what her future will hold and wished the story would continue. My only other criticism of the book was lack of chapters as I hate putting the book down in the middle of the story.

raggie Tue 27-Apr-10 21:08:21

She seemed such a modern character, Rose. I half thought something shocking was going to be revealed - that she was in love with a married man from the golf club or something! Actually, that would of course never have been revealed as it wouldn't fit at all with the tone of the book, as we've been saying. But maybe we were supposed to wonder about it? Maybe she was meant to be gay!

Laugs Tue 27-Apr-10 21:05:23

You wonder if she had known for years, and that's why she'd never married.

raggie Tue 27-Apr-10 21:03:45

Rose was a bit of a mystery wasn't she? I suppose we have to assume that's why she let Eilis go to the US. What a martyr!

Laugs Tue 27-Apr-10 21:00:35

I don't think she loved Jim though. I think that was more like, oh wouldn't it be so much easier if I could be happy here and look after mum etc.

Her feelings of Tony did dim when he wasn't around, but I don't think it was so clear cut that she no longer wanted him.

I do the same when I go home to my parents' for the weekend... I can almost forget I am married and have a whole life elsewhere, I revert to my teenage self, hang out with friends, go on big nights out etc - but it doesn't mean I'm not happy in my normal life most of the time.

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