Leaving Ireland for America


Colm Toibin weaves a strong tale of Eilis and her “arranged” move to the USA. Detailing life in Brooklyn, Toibin neatly describes the intricacies of Eilis’s life so vividly that you can imagine yourself there.

The storytelling was deft and the interactions with her mother, Rose, Mrs Kehoe, Father Flood and the store manageress were lively and light. Her romantic relationships came across as superficial and didn’t scratch the surface of her feelings.

Perhaps that was Colm Toibin’s intent – you got the feeling that she was going through the motions and never allowed herself to fully immerse herself in Brooklyn life in case she gave into her homesickness.

I find myself torn by this book – I really did enjoy this story (in parts).

MetLineReader rating: 3.5* (District and Circle)

About this book

It is Ireland in the early 1950s and for Eilis Lacey, as for so many young Irish girls, opportunities are scarce. So when her sister arranges for her to emigrate to New York, Eilis knows she must go.

Arriving in a crowded lodging house in Brooklyn, Eilis can only be reminded of what she has sacrificed. And just as she takes tentative steps towards friendship, and perhaps something more, Eilis receives news which sends her back to Ireland. There she will be confronted by a terrible dilemma – a devastating choice between duty and one great love.


My thanks to Penguin Books UK for my review copy, which I received in exchange for a fair and honest review.  Brooklyn is available to purchase from Amazon