cover image Long Island

Long Island

Colm Tóibín. Scribner, $28 (320p) ISBN 978-1-4767-8511-0

The quietly devastating sequel to Brooklyn picks up two decades later with Eilis Lacey, now in her 40s, hemmed in by her overbearing in-laws on Long Island in 1976. First Eilis discovers that her husband, Tony, has been unfaithful, then she learns his family has decided without her consent to raise the child of his illicit affair. Furious, Eilis returns to Enniscorthy, the small town in Ireland she left in the 1950s, and arranges for her and Tony’s teenaged daughter and son to join her there to celebrate her mother’s birthday. Eilis hasn’t been back since the death of her sister, Rose, many years earlier. On that trip, though she was already married to Tony without her family’s knowledge, she fell in love with pub owner Jim Farrell. Jim has never married but is soon to become engaged to the widow Nancy Sheridan, Eilis’s dear old friend. Now, Eilis’s second homecoming upends life in the village as she and Nancy each stumble toward what they believe they deserve, and Jim considers what’s more important: his commitments or his desires. Tóibín is brilliant at tallying the weight of what goes unsaid between people (“They could do everything except say out loud what it was they were thinking”), and at using quotidian situations to illuminate longing as a universal and often-inescapable aspect of the human condition. Tóibín’s mastery is on full display here. Agent: Peter Straus, RCW Literary. (May)