Author: Colm Tóibín
Publication Info: New York : Scribner, 2009.
Summary/Review: Set in the 1950s, this novel tells the story of young Irish woman named Eilis who gets the opportunity to emigrate to New York, work in a shop, and begin studying accounting and law. At its best, the story captures nuances of everyday life from the small kindnesses to the petty jealousy, homesickness to new love. Unfortunately, Eilis has a problem in that she seems incapable of making decisions for herself and thus allows others to shape her life for her. This comes to a head in the final section of the book which I found so frustrating and didn’t know if should be angry at Eilis for having no spine or angry at everyone in society who made her this way. Nevertheless, while unsatisfying on the narrative level this is a well-written and honest novel.
Recommended books: A Tree Grows in Brooklyn by Betty Smith, ‘Tis, a Memoir by Frank McCourt, and Let the Great World Spin by Colum McCann.