Sunday, 18 April 2010
Brooklyn by Colm Toibin
I am well aware of the craft involved in writing of such clarity and apparent simplicity, and the maintaining of a deliciously straightforward plot, but good god Toibin, did you have to make such an infuriating heroine! She is supposed to be reasonably intelligent, but manages to do nothing clever; she is supposed to be good but is a moral coward; and she is so damnably self-conscious - ceaselessly - that one yearns to jump into the book and tell her to forget herself for a moment and start living. Set this against William Trevor's riff on Brief Encounter, 'Love and Summer' (both these books are versions of Coward's genuine masterpiece), and you will conclude that perhaps 'Brooklyn' might have done better as a short story: Eilis would not have had time to lose our sympathies.