Heartbreaking: Colm Toibin

Self is just a few pages from the end of Brooklyn.  This is truly a great novel. Self’s heart aches for Eilis, the young Irish woman whose story this is.


She’s emigrated to New York but returns to Ireland for the funeral of her sister, who died suddenly of a heart condition. Apparently, the world is such a small place. Her doings in Brooklyn have already circulated in the Irish town she is from, chief among which is the fact that she’s begun dating an Italian American.

“Oh, don’t try and fool me!” Miss Kelly said. “You can fool most people, but you can’t fool me.”

“I am sure I would not like to fool anyone,” Eilis said.

“Is that right, Miss Lacey? If that’s what your name is now.

“What do you mean?”

“She told me the whole thing. The world, as the man says, is a very small place.”

Eilis, who up to then had been vaccilating about whether to return to New York, and who was starting to see a local man, immediately books passage and starts packing (and in the meantime, self’s heart is breaking into a million little pieces).

A few times after the hours that followed she was tempted to carry up a tray with tea and biscuits or sandwiches to her mother; her mother’s door remained closed and there was not a sound from the room.

Apparently, Eilis’s mother, too, had heard.

Naturally, Eilis is shunned by everyone.  Self quite understands why Eilis can no longer stay in Ireland, but feels terrible on her behalf.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.


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