The Book Mark

Books that make the grade.

Tag Archives: Ireland



A very popular movie in the theatres recently is Brooklyn (A) based on the book by Colm Toibin. I haven’t seen the movie…yet, however, after reading this great novel I intend to…. soon.

The struggle is real for Eilis Lacey. Her family doesn’t have it easy in her hometown in Ireland. Her three brothers have already left home to work in Dublin and her sister Rose supports Eilis and their mother as a secretary. Eilis has a tremendous aptitude with numbers and there is great hope that she will be able to pursue a career as a bookkeeper.

Without her knowing, Rose reaches out to Father Flood, an Irish priest living and working in America. He is able to sponsor Eilis’s journey to Brooklyn where he has located a promising job for her with the ability to attend school as well.

Eilis faces many challenges along the way. Clearly she suffers from being homesick. She is extremely stressed by all that is expected of her. She constantly makes decisions that would be best for everyone often not for herself. Her character is one that I felt very strongly about. I felt others often led her and I desperately wanted her to be stronger and more assertive. I also wished she could have better dealt with her mother, Mrs. Kehoe and her inner feelings.

The writing at times reminded me a bit of Maeve Binchy with all the hometown bits of gossip. Toibin writes a good novel with an ending that I feel a bit conflicted about. It will be interesting to see how Hollywood handles it in the movie. I did want more and maybe he left the door open for a sequel. That would be rather nice.

A while ago, I gave up on his next book Nora Webster but after reading Brooklyn, I think I will give it another go. There is obviously more to Toibin than I gave him credit for.



A Week in Winter

It isn’t often that you encounter an author that repeatedly produces consistently good novels. This past year the world lost such an author, Maeve Binchy.  Recently, A Week in Winter (A) the last novel written before she passed away was released.  Time after time, throughout her amazing writing career, she has written delightful novels that take place in her beloved Ireland.

Chicky meets Walter Starr, an American who sweeps her off her feet. With promises of everlasting love she leaves her family and follows him to America.  Before too long Walter moves on leaving Chicky alone. She will not admit this to her family and so she creates a fictitious married life. She returns home twenty years later claiming that Walter was killed in an accident.  With the money she saved in America, she buys a tired old inn. She recruits family and friends to help her make changes to the inn turning it into a lovely seaside resort.  Chapter by chapter, we meet the guests who have come seeking peace from their troubled lives.  With Binchy’s expert writing,  each chapter seems like a short story with characters that the reader becomes totally invested in.

I have read all of her novels and I have never been disappointed.  While A Week in Winter is her very last book, it is just as charming and endearing as her very first. Maeve Binchy is by far one of my favorite authors and she will be sadly missed.  Her books have always brought me comfort and joy.  I remember being in London about 10 years ago where I found a new Binchy novel at the airport.  I felt like I had won the lottery. This book wouldn’t be available in America for months. I had found a treasure and devoured it on the flight home.

Please take the time to discover Maeve Binchy and her nineteen well-written novels.  There is something in each one that you will long remember.  I know that you will appreciate her as much as I do and mourn the fact that there will be no more.