Adult, Books

Brooklyn by Colm Toibin Book & Movie Review

Pop Sugar Challenge Update: 4/40

A New York Time Bestseller

I told you guys I would get this to you this week and I finally have it for you!  I wasn’t sure whether or not I wanted to make a video for this review but I think for the sake of not bombarding you guys with videos (as I made a video for my Monday Musing post and we had two Betwixt the Books videos this week) I would do it the old fashioned way!

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Title: Brooklyn
Author: Colm Toibin
Publisher: Scribner
Page #: 288
Genre: Literary Fiction, Historical Fiction

Aside from having a name that I never seem to be able to properly pronounce Colm Toibin has got to be one of the best people ever.  He created this book and it is so gosh darn beautiful.

I should preface this review by saying I think this book would be especially poignant for anyone who has experienced home sickness or the odd realization that they no longer belong where they once belonged.  I am not one of those people.  I went away for college but never actually felt home sick.  I was surrounded by friends and my day to day life didn’t actually change drastically away from home.  This may change for me as I do plan to move to and live in other countries but as of yet, I have not experienced it.  Yet, I still found this book profoundly moving.

It follows the story of a girl, Eilis, who is sponsored by a Priest to come and live and work in America upon hearing that there is no suitable work for her in Ireland.  It follows her journey from home to Brooklyn.  The people she meets there and the ins and outs of her daily life.  If you are expecting a spectacularly exciting novel, I would probably look elsewhere.  This is just a recounting of her life as it is.  There are moments of intense heart break as well as moments of hilarious folly.  It shows the moments in life that we hold most dear as well as those that we wish we could forget, but in the end shape us more than we think.

This is a character study as well as a study of how our home is really where our heart is.  I feel like it was brilliantly structured.  There is a moment in the book where you get a glimpse of what her life might have been had she stayed in Ireland and the comparison of the two is shocking, as well as the revelation that that imagined alternate reality may only have been possible because of her trip to America.  I don’t think I need to talk about the beautiful lyric quality of the writing as it literary fiction after all.

If you have any interest at all in the book I would recommend picking it up.  It is incredibly short, I read it in two sittings.  It could be a bit of a slow burn as there isn’t a fast moving plot to keep you interested but you will fall in love with the characters and want to see how everything works out for them in the end and that will pull you through.

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Title: Brooklyn
Director: John Crowley
Writer: Nick Hornby, Colm Toibin
Actors: Saoirse Ronan, Emory Cohen, Domhnall Gleeson
Length: 111 min.
Genre: Romance, Drama
Rating: PG-13

As far as the film is concerned I honestly think that it holds up to the book.  There is rarely ever a film that actually surpasses a book, in my opinion.  Those who do often surpass it because I had major problems with a text and the film is able to present the story in a way that alleviates those issues.  However, when a book is this masterfully written, a film has a lot to stand up to.

I feel like the movie is a faster paced version of the book.  Obviously because of time constraints, but also it seems like the visual medium makes the passage of long amounts of time seem faster than they are.  I did register the seasons changing and that makes it easy to see time passing, but it doesn’t feel the same way as it does in the book.  However I feel like the movie was able to hit all of the tonal beats that the book had when they were needed.

I have to say that Saoirse Ronan is definitely an actress to watch.  She did a spectacular job representing all of the emotions that this character goes through.  I feel like a film such as this would be difficult to portray simply because it is all about her character.  She has nowhere to hide.  There is no spectacular plot to distract from her acting there is just her and what she portrays.  There was not a single moment where I doubted her acting.  I would have believed that she had experienced all of these things herself.  Also shout out to the little boy who played Frankie, possibly the stand out actor/character in the film.

I was actually surprised how immersed I felt in this film.  Part of it was in the beauty of all of the shots.  I feel like the fifties lends itself to some really great color and design.  I also appreciated the sheer difference between the color palette of Ireland and New York as a determining artistic choice.  The shots at Coney Island are particularly memorable and it made me nostalgic for a time and place I have never experienced, so thumbs up for that.

If you have the chance to catch the film I recommend it, even if you haven’t read the book.  I did read the book before seeing the film but I don’t think it is necessary if you are not a big reader.  That says a lot.  That isn’t to say that the book is bad, but I recognize that its structure is not suitable for a mass audience necessarily.  If you want to give the book a shot I would highly recommend it but I also understand if you just want to relax and take the story in from a comfortable red velvet cinema seat.

That’s all for today folks.  I hope you enjoyed this review and I will talk to you soon!

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