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Nora, Nora: A Novel Paperback – December 29, 2009

3.7 out of 5 stars 87 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

The young heroine of Nora, Nora comes from a long line of angst-ridden adolescents, stretching back through Holden Caulfield and Frankie Addams to Huckleberry Finn. Yet Peyton McKenzie certainly has good reason to be unhappy. Her household, in the small Georgia town of Lytton, is shadowed by the deaths of her mother and older brother. Her father, meanwhile, has withdrawn into mournful distraction: "When Buddy died in an accident in his air-force trainer, when Peyton was five, Frazier McKenzie closed up shop on his laughter, anger, small foolishnesses, and large passions. Now, at twelve, Peyton could remember no other father than the cooled and static one she had."

To withstand this mortuary atmosphere--not to mention a touch of small-town claustrophobia--Peyton has founded the Losers Club, where she and two other misfits share their daily doses of unhappiness. But everything changes when her cousin Nora shows up for a visit. This jaunty outsider is unlike anybody else in Kennedy-era Lytton, circa 1961:

The first thing you noticed about Nora Findlay, Peyton thought, was that she gave off heat, a kind of sheen, like a wild animal, except that hers was not a dangerous ferality, but an aura of sleekness and high spirits. There was a padding, hip-shot prowl to her walk, and she moved her body as if she were totally unconscious of it, as if its suppleness and sinew were something she had lived with all her life.
At first Nora's high spirits have a tonic effect, jogging both Peyton and her father out of their torpor. But her involvement in racial politics eventually rubs some of Lytton's citizens the wrong way--and puts her young cousin's loyalty to the test. Anne Rivers Siddons handles the narrative with a deft touch for local color (right down to the perpetual "three Coca-Colas in an old red metal ice chest"). But her feeling for her cast of characters is even better, mixing just the right proportions of delicacy and Southern discomfort. --Anita Urquhart --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Publishers Weekly

Siddons pulls off another smoothly written novel with ingratiating ease, despite an unpromising beginning. Readers may fear they're in the realm of the hackneyed reflections of To Kill a Mockingbird and A Member of the Wedding when they're introduced to 12-year-old, "thin, frail, queer and nervous" Peyton McKenzie. In the seventh grade in Lytton, Ga., Peyton has "no friends of her own age and gender," and spends her free time in the parsonage tool shed with 34-year-old Ernie Longworth, eccentric, erudite sexton and grave keeper of the Methodist church. The third member of their Losers Club is eight-year-old Boot, the handicapped grandson of Chloe, the McKenzies' black housekeeper. Peyton considers herself the consummate "loser" because her mother died the day after she was born, and her cool, distant father seems to hold Peyton responsible. When a beautiful red-haired stranger blows into town in a Thunderbird coup?, this too seems tritely familiar. Outspoken Nora Findlay, a distant cousin who smokes, drinks and doesn't wear a bra, is clearly out to shock the morally conservative community. Though Siddons doesn't deliver any thematic surprises in this well-worn genre, she does offer a neatly competent and engrossing story that captures the reader's sympathies despite its quality of d?j? vu, as she conjures up the social and racial attitudes of a small Southern town in the 1960s. Nora enthralls an initially reluctant Peyton, working magic on the girl's appearance, self-confidence, intellectual curiosity and moral vision, even as she scandalizes everyone else in town. But daredevil Nora is secretly vulnerable, as Peyton learns when her cousin confesses the heavy emotional burden she carries. Eventually, both Nora and Peyton experience the anguish of betrayal. In addition to her impeccable re-creation of Southern speech and atmosphere, Siddons captures the angst of adolescence with practiced skill, and she handles the rising drama of her plot so smoothly that the book has all the marks of bestsellerdom. Agent, Jennifer Rudolph Walsh at the Writers Shop. 250,000 first printing; author tour. (July)
Copyright 2000 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 464 pages
  • Publisher: Harper Perennial; Reprint edition (December 29, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0061874922
  • ISBN-13: 978-0061874925
  • Product Dimensions: 5.3 x 1 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12.8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (87 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #937,766 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
Maybe I went into this with lower expectations than usual after reading some of the reviews posted here. I have read everything ARS has written, and am always anxious and eager to start (and finish) her newest additions...this was no exception.
I just loved (and pitied) Peyton's character...so unsure of herself and lost in the everyday world until a wiser, more wordly woman comes along...Nora. Again, a character you just have to fall in love with for her spunk and fiesty beliefs. You just adore the fact that she can put Aunt Augusta in her place, and as they say, "catch flies with honey."
As always, Siddons captures the essence of the timeframe with the political goings-on and blends the story into its surroundings. The entire book unravelled with no sure outcome, and my emotions that poured forth during the speech were uncontrollable.
I still rank Outer Banks as my favorite, with Downtown, Colony and King's Oak not far behind. Anne writes a fabulous story with beautiful prose and wonderful continuity...I look forward to her new novels and though I wish she could crank them out faster, they are always worth the wait.
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Format: Hardcover
Once again the reader finds herself in Lytton, Georgia (see THE HOMEPLACE) with a young girl orphaned at birth by the death of her mother. With a distant father, a loving household retainer and a "Loser's Club" who competes daily for the stupidest trick ... Peyton's life needed the sudden reappearance of Cousin Nora. I was a little distressed over the recycled story and I quite frankly missed ARS's middle-aged matriarchs as in THE COLONY, THE OUTER BANKS and UP ISLAND. However, the writing is simply exquisite (as always) and the pink T-bird on the cover just way too much fun. About halfway through the book, this reader found the magic and the sense of place I have come to expect. Peyton as a child is a character you won't forget, Nora is absolutely ethereal. However, the pagan Nana could have been more in evidence. Siddons has great talent for settings and characters, her books are for dwelling and learning and (sometimes) seeing things from a new perspective.
And I fear that I take deep offense to this novel (set in my own childhood years!) being referred to as "historical fiction."
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Format: Mass Market Paperback
Anne River Siddons paints a wonderful portrait of a young girl growing up and coming of age into adulthood in a small town in Georgia during a time of innocence. After her eccentric cousin Nora comes to visit Peyton McKenzie, her life is turned topsy turvy and so are the lives of several other residents of the town. Peyton is on the verge of becoming a teenager, she never met anyone like Nora, who is independent and does not hesitate to challenge conventional thinking and the local establishment. Peyton harbors guilt for having killed her mother during childbirth, her mom died after she was born. Peyton belongs to an exclusive club, "The Loser's Club" ,where she and a few select friends share their 'secrets'. Peyton was raised by a single parent her father, who loves her but is somewhat remote. He has a housekeeper who also served as Peyton's nanny. Her highly particular Aunt Augusta (father's sister) took a benign interest in trying to feminize Peyton who resists these changes .... Peyton learns Nora is her mother's cousin's daughter and that a dispute between between the cousins, her mother and Nora's mother, occured sometime when Lila Lee (Peyton's mom) married her dad. Ms Siddons weaves numerous anecdotal events from the lives of her characters throughout the story ... many are amusing and charming which makes reading the book a delightful experience. Some mysterous events from the past eventually are revealed which shed light on the relationship between Peyton's and Nora's mother. Nora has some secrets of her own ... she lived a highly unusual independent life in her young adulthood. She is ahead of her time, the 1960s, in terms of civil rights, free thinking, and expresssion of personal freedom ... which she exerts. Her expressions of independence eventually land Nora into problems ...Read more ›
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By A Customer on April 23, 2001
Format: Hardcover
I listened to this book on audio and loved every minute of it. I have read a couple of Siddon's novels before this, and this was definitely my favorite. The story centers around Peyton, a 12 year old girl being raised by her father after her mother died shortly after giving birth to her. All her life, Peyton had believed that she had killed her mother and that's why her father wasn't very loving towards her. I felt so sorry for Peyton when her Aunt Augusta took her to Atlanta to get her hair fixed and new clothes. She came out of the beauty shop with a huge perm and clothes she hated and went home and cried. Fortunately, along comes cousin Nora who manages to create a cute hairdo out of the perm and begins to bring Peyton out of her shell. The people in the town either love Nora or hate her, and her views on racism cause alot of commotion, but I couldn't help but love her character. Of course, I rooted for Nora and Peyton's dad to fall in love and have a happy ending, but the author throws in a few twists and the story doesn't always go the way I'd hoped, but I enjoyed the whole book and will recommend it to all my friends. I can't wait until the next Anne Rivers Siddons novel.
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