Tuesday, 26 January 2010
The south (Toibin)
I very much enjoyed reading Brooklyn by Toibin over the Christmas period, I liked his style of prose and was absolutely gripped to the final pages of the novel, and was thus keen to read more by him. In a departure from the norm, I dispatched my partner to the branch library to find me some more books while I was at work, and he came back with two Toibin books for me - The south and Story of the night.
Set in the 1950s, The south tells the story of Katherine Proctor, who leaves Ireland for Barcelona in an attempt to fulfil her desire to become a painter. The reader never really learns why she chose to leave her husband and small son but we follow her in a determination to create a new life for herself. Part of the story is the desire to escape from political troubles, having spent many years being ostracised as a protestant in Southern Ireland. But when she meets Miguel, another painter with whom she has a child, she finds that it is not so easy to escape, since he was involved in the Spanish civil war. When she separates from Miguel she suddenly desires to return to Ireland and find her son and attempts to rediscover Ireland. Painting is one of the ways she tries to do this.
I was a little frustrated by the amount of loose ends in the story, both at the beginning, and at the end - the story did not come to enough of a conclusion for me. However, in some ways that was similar to Brooklyn, where I was left wondering what happened after Eilis returned to America. I will be interested to see if this happens in The story of the night.
Has anyone else read any other Toibin apart from Brooklyn?