Brooklyn by Colm Toibin

Brooklyn by Colm Toibin

Eilis Lacey has come of age in small-town Ireland in the hard years following World War Two. When an Irish priest from Brooklyn offers to sponsor Eilis in America, she decides she must go, leaving her fragile mother and her charismatic sister behind.

Eilis finds work in a department store on Fulton Street, and when she least expects it, finds love. Tony, who loves the Dodgers and his big Italian family, slowly wins her over with patient charm. But just as Eilis begins to fall in love, devastating news from Ireland threatens the promise of her future.

Scribner; 1st edition (March 2, 2010)


Book Club Ideas

Decorations

Decorating for an Irish-themed party is super easy … GO GREEN! Balloons, streamers, shamrocks, leprechauns, and pots of “gold” are the usual Irish party decorations. But, for homesick Eilis, I especially like the Irish tablecover, centerpiece, and shamrock garland.

Music

Our hostess Lori had Irish tunes playing as we arrived to book club. Songs of the Irish Immigrants is a great selection for a Brooklyn book club gathering.


Book Club Menu

Lori started us off with some fabulous appetizers of Smoked Salmon Tartlets, Cheesy Mushroom Puffs, and Irish American Brown Soda Bread and Flavorful Potato Bread served with Irish cheeses and creamy Irish butter.

For the main course, Lori served up a savory Irish Cottage Pie.

And for dessert, an Irish Whiskey Cake that will have you dancing a jig!

After dinner, as we settled in to discuss the novel, we enjoyed a Hot Irish Whiskey Aperitif topped with whipped cream, followed by

an Irish meade (Tiffany and I loved the meade!)


Book Club Resources

Ratings at the time this post was published

Goodreads: 3.62 stars (45,015 ratings)
Amazon: 3.7 stars (1,165 ratings)
LibraryThing: 3.69 stars (1,068 ratings)
My Rating: 3.75 stars I thought the writing of Colm Toibin to be exceptional and I enjoyed Eilis’ story three-quarters of the way through . However, toward the end I was completely annoyed with spineless Eilis.

Discussion

  1. What was Rose’s motivation for arranging Eilis’ immigration to America?
  2. How did you take Eilis’ apparent passivity in this novel? Do you feel she made choices for herself or allowed others to determine her fate?
  3. What role did Father Flood play in Eilis’ life in America?
  4. What was your reaction to Eilis’ ignorance of the Holocaust? What do you think was behind that ignorance?
  5. Why was Eilis not forthcoming about her relationship with Tony while in Ireland?
  6. How did you feel about the ending of novel? Where you satisfied? What did you think of Eilis’ future?

Purchase Brooklyn at your favorite bookseller


Author

Dublin resident Colm Toibin is the author of novels and short stories. His works have won numerous awards including — The Blackwater Lightship, shortlisted for the 1999 Booker Prize; The Master shortlisted for the 2004 Booker Prize and the LA Times Novel of the Year; and; Brooklyn winner of the 2009 Costa Novel of the Year.

Other Works by Colm Toibin