A novel of emigration, longing and loss
“We’re used to getting these kinds of stories from an American perspective in which moving to America is the natural thing to do. Tóibín makes his emigrant’s story more painful without simply reversing those assumptions or ruling out an ironic distance from postwar Irish insularity. (A prim young woman from Belfast shares her views on Brooklyn’s Italian and Jewish populations: “I didn’t come all the way to America, thank you, to hear people talking Italian on the street or see them wearing funny hats.”) Eilis herself is an interesting character, less defenceless and more troubled than she initially seems, and the novel uncovers the “dark, uncertain” areas within her with a very light touch. Her rejection of her landlady’s proffered friendship, and her encounter with her sexually wistful female boss, are handled as delicately as any scene Tóibín has done, although here and there his delicacy doesn’t exclude a note of ribald amusement as well as worldly melancholy.” From the Guardian review
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