This book has perhaps been written with female readers in mind, rather than men. The author is male and a great writer, because what he has done is full of risks and pitfalls: To portray an unemployed Irish girl with a head for figures, her father deceased four years earlier, her three brothers having moved to Birmingham, UK, because there is no work in SE Ireland in the early 1950s. The thoughts, conventions, fears of what neighbours will think, 1950s brand names and business practices, are impeccably portrayed.
She lives with her mother and beautiful, elder sister in a state of respectable poverty, when she, Eilis Lacey(EL), is offered the chance of a lifetime by a visiting Irish priest: To work in the US, in Brooklyn, New York, in a department store specialized in women's clothing.
Strict Irish conventions have delayed EL's ability to deal with new situations and, indeed, her own feelings. This becomes clear during her sea voyage to America, at work and the first months in the boardinghouse for single girls of Irish extraction in Brooklyn. Suffering badly from homesickness, the same priest who arranged for her to come to Brooklyn, arranges evening studies for her and involves her in parish Christmas dinners for the poor and invites her to attend fund-raising, Fridaynight dance parties.
Now the book picks up pace. She meets Tony, a very good boy indeed. They plan a life together, but then fate strikes in Ireland, and she has to return. And there she meets Jim again, a much-changed person...
Readers must take over and read and enjoy this great book, and decide, perhaps in book discussion meetings, what prevails, love or responsibility? What about the role of Eilis' mother? And is Eilis a naïve or a bad girl? Highly recommended.