Eilis Lacey can't find a job in 1950s Ireland. Her sister and a priest engineer her emigration to America, where she lives in a rooming house and gets a job in a department store, while studying accounting at Brooklyn College. She navigates among the difficult personalities she encounters at work and at home, and finds herself dating a nice Italian boy named Tony. After family troubles call her back to Ireland, her life gets more complicated.
The experience of reading this book was delicious, but I ultimately felt unsatisfied. The atmosphere is everything I love. The prose is lean and beautiful. The story is compelling. I just felt a little distant from Eilis, and I found it odd that the blurbs celebrated Toibin's ability to create realistic female characters. I seldom felt inside Eilis's head.