Book Club Discussion: Brooklyn, by Colm Tóibín

Welcome to the Book Club discussion for Brooklyn, by Colm Tóibín. Below is a list of discussion questions to get the conversation started. We are excited to hear your thoughts in the comments section below. Feel free to answer all the questions, or pick and choose a few questions to discuss!

1.When Eilis and Tony first meet, she seems more interested in him as an escape from her troublesome housemates than as a genuine romantic interest. Tony, however, is clear about his love for Eilis from the start. Why do you think Eilis is hesitant in her feelings?

2. Imagine Eilis in today’s world. Do you see her primarily as a career-motivated woman, or as a wife and mother?

3. If Eilis had been able to choose freely, between Brooklyn and Tony, and Enniscorthy and Jim, what do you think she would have chosen?

4. If Tony and Eilis were a couple in today’s world, would their relationship have lasted?

5. Is Eilis really a young woman who does not choose, who allows others to determine her fate? Why?

6. For those who have seen the Oscar winning movie adaption, what were the most striking differences between the book and the movie?

Questions by: Hello Book Lover and Simon and Shuster


Hi, I’m Alexis, cofounder of Hello Book Lover! I am jumpstarting the Brooklyn discussion with my responses below:

1. When Eilis and Tony first meet, she seems more interested in him as an escape from her troublesome housemates than as a genuine romantic interest. Tony, however, is clear about his love for Eilis from the start. Why do you think Eilis is hesitant in her feelings?

Eilis is portrayed as a passive person and not having anyone in Brooklyn to help her with decisions made her hesitant with Tony.

2. Imagine Eilis in today’s world. Do you see her primarily as a career-motivated woman, or as a wife and mother?

I’m having a hard time with this one, as I can see it going either way. I’m curious to see what other people think!

3. If Eilis had been able to choose freely, between Brooklyn and Tony, and Enniscorthy and Jim, what do you think she would have chosen?

I think she would have chosen Enniscorthy and Jim. This was the easier choice to make as her mother and everything she knew was in Enniscorthy. The only thing waiting for her in Brooklyn was Tony. If they had not been married it would have been easier for her to just not go back.

4. If Tony and Eilis were a couple in today’s world, would their relationship have lasted?

Relationships can withstand a lot more distance and time than they probably used to, as shown in Brooklyn. The long travel time and lack of communication during Eilis’ trip home could certainly have been avoided in today’s world.

5. Is Eilis really a young woman who does not choose, who allows others to determine her fate? Why?

It does seem that Eilis is very indecisive regarding major life decisions. She ultimately goes with the choice someone else makes for her. We see this first with her decision to move to Brooklyn. She never really has much of a choice after her sister sets everything up for her. It seems like she is undecided about going to Brooklyn but in the end just goes because the decision was already made for her. She doesn’t want to disappoint other people.

6. For those who have seen the Oscar winning movie adaption, what were the most striking differences between the book and the movie?

In the movie it seemed that Eilis’s feelings toward Tony simply faded due to distance and time whereas in the book Eilis expressed some real doubts about whether or not she even loved Tony. Personally, I liked how it was portrayed in the movie better.

Share your answers below!

One thought on “Book Club Discussion: Brooklyn, by Colm Tóibín”

  1. I was pleasantly surprised by this book! The summary didn’t do too much for me, but the book definitely did! Here are the two questions that stuck out to me from above:

    #3: If Eilis was able to choose freely I don’t think she would have selected either of them! I think if she could choose freely she would never have gone to America in the first place and never would have met Tony. And I think the only reason Jim liked her was because she was now “unique” and “special” for having lived in a different country. I think she is better off without either of them!

    #5: This one of of the things that bothered me most about Eilis. If someone were to say jump, she would jump. Probably off a bridge for that matter! But she was very loyal. Although sadly in the end she was loyal to Tony and not her mother who really needed her.

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