I love books. I always have. I read every book in the classroom in Junior Infants and haven’t stopped since. I tend to love Irish writers more than others, maybe it’s a cultural context thing or a nationalistic thing but I just can’t get enough of them. One of my favourite writers at the moment is Colm Tóibín. I haven’t read all of his work yet but the ones I have read, I have really enjoyed.
I started with Brooklyn, which received mixed reviews. It is a lot lighter than some of his other work but I liked the story and I could really imagine the characters as he wrote them. Tóibín depicts the loneliness of the emigrant in America trying to settle and make her way in the unknown. Her return to Ireland throws all of her American experiences into disarray and what she thought she was certain about becomes uncertain and makes her question everything she thought she knew. Cultural displacement is under scrutiny by Tóibín and the idea of ‘home’ is blurred by the emigrant experience.
Brooklyn is a modest novel, but it has heft. (The Washington Post)
My lovely sister bought me The Story of the Night and The Master for my birthday. I liked them both but particularly enjoyed The Master. I became fascinated by Henry James and his isolated closed lifestyle, his tenuous relationship with himself and others and his sense of guilt and remorse regarding his sister’s illness and consequent death. The depth of research on Henry James and his life is incredible and presented beautifully to the reader.
The one that really stood out for me was given to me by my fellow bookwormy friend was The Heather Blazing. A dark tale based on a solitary judge who spends his holidays in Co. Wexford (Tóibín’s native county). As with many of Tóibín’s characters, Eamon Redmond lives a lonely life, despite having a wife and family. The Irish male is held up for inspection through Eamon’s lack of communication with those closest to him. The story also deals with cultural and historical aspects of the country through Eamon’s retrospective view of his childhood.