Past Meetup

Theme: Irish Authors: "Brooklyn" by Colm Tóibín - this one is a Saturday lunch

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Hi book lovers,

What a surprise that the expected claustrophobic visit in the diving bell turned out to be a quite wonderful story of unknown strength and thoughtful lessons of missed opportunities in live… great discussion!

For our Irish authors themed December club we will change our habit and meet for Saturday lunch with a good Irish beer – this will also be our year end club.

The book will take us back into the struggles and hopes of Irish immigrants.

Brooklyn by Colm Tóibín

In tracking the experience of a girl as unsophisticated and simple as Eilis — a girl who permits herself no extremes of temperament, who accords herself no right to self-assertion — Toibin exercises sustained subtlety and touching respect. Accompanying her on the ghastly voyage from Ireland to America, where the sea swell has all the passengers green and reeling, he soon brings her to a Brooklyn boarding house run by a respectable Irishwoman. Eilis numbs herself against nostalgia until letters from home awaken her homesickness. Then she grieves. “She was nobody here,” she thinks. “It was not just that she had no friends and family; it was rather that she was a ghost in this room, in the streets on the way to work, on the shop floor. . . . Nothing here was part of her. It was false, empty.”

Unlike intentional voyagers everywhere, Eilis hasn’t sought the consolations of anonymity. And so, when she meets a man, an Italian-­American named Tony, she does what her instinct dictates: puts down roots. When her family calls her back to Enniscorthy, Tony seems to her like “part of a dream from which she had woken.” And yet, back in Ireland, Eilis knows that if she were in New York it would be Enniscorthy that seemed like a “strange, hazy dream.” Is it surprising if a seed grows where it lands, once it’s been scattered? Can it be helped? In “Brooklyn,” Colm Toibin quietly, modestly shows how place can assert itself, enfolding the visitor, staking its claim.

Cheers, Rita and Susanne

P.S. 'Two Pints' by Roddy Doyle came 2nd in the poll - seems like another great read so we leave it here as a suggestion for everybody!

Two men meet for a pint in a Dublin pub. They chew the fat, set the world to rights, take the piss. They talk about their wives, their kids, their kids' pets, their football teams and - this being Ireland in[masked] -about the euro, the crash, the presidential election, the Queen's visit. But these men are not parochial or small-minded; one of them knows where to find the missing Colonel Gaddafi (he's working as a cleaner at Dublin Airport); they worry about Greek debt, the IMF and the bondholders ( whatever they might be); in their fashion, they mourn the deaths of Whitney Houston, Donna Summer, Davy Jones and Robin Gibb; and they ask each other the really important questions like 'Would you ever let yourself be digitally enhanced?'