Will’s letter to the book club:Brooklyn, Colm Toibin, Two Roads book club

I’m sorry I missed writing you this BEFORE you read Brooklyn by Colm Toibin. And I’m particularly sorry I wasn’t there to share a picnic in the park and Pimms with you! But I’ve been working on a revision of a certain book

It was fascinating for me to read Carine’s wonderful post about this novel, particularly as your group had some mixed feelings about this one.

For me and Mom, I think the novel’s quietness was one of the things that made it appeal. Eilis is a curious character – and is indeed quite passive. Carine used the word ‘drifter’, which I think is a tremendous way of describing her. I think a lot of people are drifters – only realising they’ve made decisions after they’ve made them. I found this aspect of Eilis’s character and the novel strangely moving.

My main pleasure, however, came from the various gentle observations that are throughout. One passage in particular stuck in my head.

Early in the book, just before Eilis leaves Ireland, Toibin writes of her: ‘What she would need to do in the days before she left and on the morning of her departure was smile, so that they would remember her smiling.’

I thought about this sentence at just about every meeting of Mom’s and my little book club. What if this was the last time Mom and I ever saw each other? How would I want her to remember me? And the answer was always the same: smiling.

Again – I’m beyond jealous of your meeting in the park and can’t wait to meet you all in the autumn.

In the meantime: Happy Reading!

Will

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