When my father died, I was 12, living in a
small town in the southeast of Ireland called
Enniscorthy. For months
after [his death] the
house was filled with
people. I was this 12-
year-old who listened to
everything said by the adults. It was never
what they said while the person was there that
was interesting. It was what they said once the
person had gone.
One evening, an older woman came to
the house. After she left, someone said, “Her
daughter went to America!” And she was
coming home from America, which was very
unusual at the time. There was a big differ-
ence between emigrating to America and
emigrating to England, if you were Irish. If
you emigrated to America, your descendants
could become president of the United States.
If you were Irish you could not become queen
Anyway, the daughter had gone to
America and had come back, and her family
thought she was coming back for good and
her parents were glad. But actually her boyfriend in New York realized, if you go you’ll
never come back to me. So he said, “Marry me
before you go and then it will be all right.” And
she did. And of course she had the ring on
when she boarded the boat, but when she got
to Ireland she took the ring off because she just
couldn’t tell them that she had married in
America. That would mean she would never
be able to stay in Ireland. It would mean that
she would have to go back to America.
This story came to mind—this idea of a
woman coming back to town with the ring
somewhere in her handbag or in her purse
but not telling her family she was married.
That was all I knew.—Colm Tóibín
arts & entertainment
Colm Tóibín discusses
his book Brooklyn
Colm Tóibín © B R I
now) is available at
most Costco warehouses, along with
food, wine and other
supplies for hosting
a book club.
THE LATEST COSTCO Book Club pick is Colm Tóibín’s Brooklyn. It’s the story of a
young Irish woman who emigrates to New York, where she moves into a lodging house in
Brooklyn. Just as she finds love, bad news from back home draws her back and possibly
away from the promise of her future.
Tóibín is an award-winning author whose works include The Master, Nora Webster and The Blackwater
Lightship. In this Connection exclusive he addresses how he found the inspiration for Brooklyn.
To the right are review comments from Costco member book club readers as well as suggestions
and specific questions that your own book club can use to enhance the reading and reviewing
experience of Brooklyn.—Stephanie E. Ponder
Reviews from members
Brooklyn is perhaps the most deeply
moving reading experience I’ve ever had.
No other novel so beautifully evokes
homesickness and grief. At the same
time, Brooklyn manages to explore these
profound and dark themes without ever
becoming maudlin or sentimental. The
book takes you to some low places, but
all the while there is this amazing wit,
light and characters we come to love,
especially Eilis, who ends up seeming
like an old friend.
—Silas House, Berea, Kentucky
If you’ve ever left home, been
homesick and alone, or lost someone
you love, this book will resonate with
you. Tóibín captures in elegant, subtle,
perfect detail the intensity yet fragility
of those emotions coupled with so
many brilliant observations about life.
This book is filled with the perfectly
described moment, ones that you go
back and reread.
Lakeside Park, Kentucky
Publisher suggestions for
book club readers
Publisher Simon & Schuster has the
following suggestions for enhancing your
• I Love Lucy was a hit show of the
1950s. However, it depicts a very different life for Ricky and Lucy, also living in
New York City, than Eilis’ experiences.
Watch some episodes of I Love Lucy and
discuss the differences between this
Hollywood version of life in the ’50s and
Tóibín’s depiction in Brooklyn.
• Betty Smith’s novel A Tree Grows
in Brooklyn is perhaps one of the most
well-known depictions of New York City
in the 1940s. Pair the two novels (
perhaps reading them in tandem, or for
consecutive meetings) and discuss the
changes in Brooklyn from Smith’s 1940s
to Tóibín’s 1950s. C