Long Island

Colm Toibin

Long Island
Pan Macmillan Australia
30 April 2024

Long Island

Colm Toibin

A novel of enormous wit and profound emotional resonance from one of the world's finest writers.

Eilis Lacey is Irish, married to Tony Fiorello, a plumber and one of four Italian American brothers, all of whom live in neighboring houses on a cul-de-sac in Lindenhurst, Long Island, with their wives and children and Tony's parents. It is the spring of 1976 and Eilis, now in her forties with two teenage children, has no one to rely on in this still-new country.

One day, an Irishman comes to the door asking for Eilis by name. He tells her that his wife is pregnant with Tony's child and that when the baby is born, he will not raise it but will leave it with her. Eilis has choices to make, and what she chooses to do after this shattering news make this one of Toibin's most riveting and emotional novels to date.


Colm Tóibín’s new novel, Long Island, reunites readers with Eilis Lacey, the heroine from his wildly successful novel Brooklyn, published in 2009. It is a favourite of mine and many Readings customers, too. I was excited not only to read this new novel but also to be given a chance, or should I say excuse, to return to Brooklyn; a beautiful, quiet work that deserves all its praise. I encourage readers to do the same.

Twenty years have passed since Eilis left Ireland and returned to Brooklyn to resume her life with her husband, Tony Fiorello. Eilis is living in Long Island with her husband and her two teenage children. Tony’s dream of building five houses on a piece of land with his brothers has come true and Eilis is ensconced in the Fiorello compound. However, a shocking discovery quickly upends the life they have built and sends Eilis back to her hometown of Enniscorthy.

This is the same town that Tóibín grew up in and has been the setting for many of his novels. It has changed in the last 20 years, but only slightly. The rumour mills are still running hot, but decorum and standards have slipped somewhat. The residents of the town are fixtures in each other’s lives, yet they remain ceaselessly wary and curious about one another.

Many of the characters from Brooklyn make an appearance in Long Island, only now they are deep into middle age. While the former is told exclusively from the perspective of Eilis, here Tóibín widens the net to include those of Nancy and Jim. Tóibín is masterful at drawing characters while you’re not even aware it’s being done. The portrait of Tony’s family is so strong and real to the reader, yet Tóibín achieves this so effortlessly.

This is, like Brooklyn, a quiet novel. But the lives of its characters are so enthralling, the writing so elegant and empathetic to their plight, that I had a hard time putting this book down. It is a heartbreaking novel, and always surprising. I strongly recommend it.

This item is in-stock at 8 shops and will ship in 3-4 days

Our stock data is updated periodically, and availability may change throughout the day for in-demand items. Please call the relevant shop for the most current stock information. Prices are subject to change without notice.

Sign in or become a Readings Member to add this title to a wishlist.