Having read Wolf Hall for our last book club we all agreed that Brooklyn by Colm Toibin seemed like a good 'easy read' choice for our next book. It was the winner of the 2009 Costa Novel award and longlisted for the Man Booker 2009 and so we had high expectations. The story is of a girl from a small town in Ireland who moves to Brooklyn to start a new life and follows her experiences there. Whilst we all thought it would be quite a light read, I think we were all surprised by just how light it turned out to be. The one male in our book club felt he had been duped into reading a chick-lit novel and, much as it pains me, I tend to agree with him. What we all felt it lacked was any depth, any real emotional tie and, indeed, any real point. I didn't feel I had learnt anything at the end of the book. The emotions and plot were all things I have read before and I failed to find anything 'novel' about it all. Few of the characters seemed likeable. Plenty of opportunities for interesting storylines seemed to be passed over (the department stores attitude towards black customers for example) and neither of the love interests fitted my idea of a romantic hero.
Who knows, perhaps we all missed the point of this book? In its defence, it is a very easy read and you do get swept along in the story. It's just that I constantly had the sense of waiting for something to happen, for a plot development that never really came. The dramatic incident that brings Eilis back to Ireland even felt to me a bit underwhelming and skimmed over. Maybe I'm too big a fan of melodrama - what do you think?