PBR Review
Bokm club discussion questions-Brooklyn by Colm Toibin

Brooklyn: A Novel

by Colm Toibin

PBR Book Review: This is what I call a quiet book. The writing is open and clear but subtle, it does not overpower, allowing you to take in and get caught up in every detail. The prosaic style creates powerful emotions as you follow the lead character Eilis on her journey to maturity. She starts out as what can almost be described as an outsider to her own life; she is pulled and molded by the wants and desires of family, no voice or identity of her own, living in her sister’s shadow and defined though the eyes of others. Slowly you watch her morph, into a woman with inner strength and conviction. In the process it is easy to sympathize with her as she experiences loss, adapts to a new cultural, and struggles to make decisions. Although this is the classic immigrant story of hope and resilience, it also leads to a better understanding and appreciation of what women of the 50’s endured as they paved the way for “modern” women of today.

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*Author Website: http://www.colmtoibin.com/

*Other Fiction by Same Author: "The Master", "Mothers and Sons", "A Long Winter", “The Blackwater Lightship”, “The Heather Blazing”, “The South”, "The Story of the Night"

*Discussion Questions

1. Can you relate to the kind of women Eilis is? Why do you think she takes such a passive role in her own life? Why does she go to America? Do you think she really wanted to go?

2. How is Eilis different from her sister Rose? Why do you think Rose encouraged Eilis to go to America?

3. Father Flood states “Parts of Brooklyn are just like Ireland. They’re full of Irish”. How similar is Eilis's hometown, Enniscorthy to her new one, Brooklyn. Do you think her prospects for a future are better in America than they would have been in Ireland?

4. Discuss how you think she adapts to her new home in America. Describe her relationship with her landlady. What was Father Flood’s role in her life?

5. Does Tony’s family share similar traits to Eilis’s family in Ireland?

6. Discuss why after returning to Ireland Eilis responds as she does to her Irish admirer. Do you think she acted out of character?

7. Discuss the factors that act as a catalyst for Eilis’s emotional growth. Would she be a much different person if she stayed in Ireland?

8. How do you feel about the decision she made in the end? Do you think it was the right one?

9. What did you learn about the immigrant’s experience? About life in the 1950’s in Brooklyn and Ireland?

Book Summary
In 17th century Persia, a 14 year old woman believes she will be married within the year. But when her beloved father dies, she and her mother find themselves alone and without a dowry. With nowhere else to go, they are forced to sell the brilliant turquoise rug the young woman has woven to pay for their journey to Isfahan, where they will work as servants for her uncle, a rich rug designer in the court of the legendary Shah Abbas the Great. Despite her lowly station, the young woman blossoms as a brilliant designer of carpets, a rarity in a craft dominated by men. But while her talent flourishes, her prospects for a happy marriage grow dim. Forced into a secret marriage to a wealthy man, the young woman finds herself faced with a daunting decision: forsake her own dignity, or risk everything she has in an effort to create a new life.
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