The June meeting of Muse & Views was hosted by Linda. Present were Beth, Betty, Colette, Jane, Linda, Michèle and Shirley. This month's book, Brooklyn by Colm Tobin was presented by Beth.
Colm Toibin is an Irish writer currently a professor of Humanities at Columbia University in New York. He is also Chancellor of the University of Liverpool. He worked several years as a journalist and has written six novels, published two books of short stories and has also published non-fiction books and poetry. Several of his books reflect on life in Ireland and he has relatives, his grand-father and uncle, who were members of the IRA.
Brooklyn his sixth novel, tells the story of a young woman who is encouraged to move to Brooklyn in the United States so she may have a more productive life. She battles severe homesickness but eventually adapts, working, taking bookkeeping classes and participating in a social life. She meets an Italian young man and eventually falls in love with him. When her sister suddenly dies in Ireland, Eilis goes back to Ireland to mourn and eventually finds herself in a dilemma. Should she stay in Ireland or go back to Brooklyn to Tony who she secretly married before leaving?
Our members all enjoyed the book, found it to be a good enjoyable read. Mr. Toibin describes well life in a small Irish town, the jealousies, the despair, the limits that were part of many European countries in the 1950's after the war. When Eilis immigrates to Brooklyn, she lives in a rooming home owned by an Irish woman and much of her life is still rooted in Ireland. However when she meets Tony who comes from an Italian family, she is exposed the the opportunities of life in America.
We found that Eilis really let life happen to her rather than being proactive. Her sister arranges for her to meet the priest who will convince her to move to America, she lets her sister make the decision for her. In America she is influenced by Father Flood and eventually by her boyfriend Tony. She is easily manipulated not a decisive person.
Colm Toibin's writing is not overly descriptive, he gives us enough information and description of life for us to easily imagine the difficulties of life after the war in Europe and the opportunities of life in America that encourage people to immigrate. The story was a good read. It was made into a movie in 2015 and was nominated for Best Picture at the Academy Awards. Thank you Beth for an excellent choice,