Christopher Tayler writing in The Guardian, Saturday 9 May 2009
One of the striking things about Colm Tóibín, (pic right by Murdo Macleod), perhaps the most admired Irish writer to emerge since John Banville, is the feeling in his work of a powerful sense of humour being strategically suppressed. Tóibín's writing isn't humourless; there are darkly comic scenes in The Master and some witty lines of dialogue in The Blackwater Lightship, and his journalism is frequently very funny. But in his novels, on the whole, he's so intent on leading his readers where he wants them without letting them catch him doing it that making them laugh too often might strike him as counterproductive.
by Colm Tóibín
Tóibín, it should be added, has serious interests. These include Catholicism and the legacy of Irish nationalism, the inward sufferings of gay people throughout most of history, and difficult emotional currents within families.
Eilis's sister Rose, whose earnings from an office job support the family, plays golf in the evenings. At the club she meets a priest, back from America on his holidays, who knew their parents years before. The priest offers to arrange a job in Brooklyn for Eilis, who soon finds herself crossing the Atlantic third-class, fully understanding that, by organising this, Rose has sacrificed her own future.