The writing in this book feels so awkward at times that I had to convince myself that that was the only way Toibin could convince us of the awkwardness of the main character. Her indecision sometimes leaves the plot floundering and when she does make decisions (or the plot takes a turn) it seems to come out of nowhere. In fact the author convinced me that the main character's decisions are hardly thought through at all - that she lives in a nebulous space that doesn't include a lot of reflection or self-awareness. Nevertheless a lovely book with a great portrait of a young Irish immigrant to Brooklyn in the 1950s. A classic dilemma builds, especially towards the end, about how thoroughly our roots are entwined in who we are, how we feel about our childhood home, and what happens when you try new things.