A Read of Colm Tóibín

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Last week I wolfed down two books by the Colm Tóibín.

I picked up The South from my mum’s bookshelf without knowing much about the author or the story. I literally could not put this book down.

Colm Tóibín’s first novel, The South, recounts the story of Catherine who leaves Ireland in order to escape an unhappy marriage. The novel begins with Catherine’s arrival in Barcelona and recounts her life in Spain and her final return to her home country at the end of the novel.

Tóibín’s writing style reminds me of Hemingway’s in this novel. He includes little physical description of Catherine throughout the novel and he makes a lot of use of dialogue. The theme of the Spanish Civil War and Catalonian independence run through the story.

Dramatic events are narrated almost sparsely, making them seem really bleak. For example, The South begins with an attempted rape which couldn’t be narrated in a more stoic way.

Brooklyn is similar to The South, in that it includes themes such as moving away from home, falling in love and coping with a sudden and unexpected death. However, Brooklyn is a slightly lighter read and I felt Ellis to be easier to relate to than The South‘s main character.

Both novels focus mostly of the characters and the relationships that they describe rather than specific events, so you love novels that focus on the characters and the relationships between them, I would most definitely give either (or both!) of these a try.

Have you read either of these books? If so, let me know what you thought!

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