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Nora Webster: A Novel Paperback – June 2, 2015
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"Fascinating... Revelatory... More thoughtful than Emma Bovary and less self-destructive, in the end far and away a better parent than the doomed Anna Karenina for all the latter’s dramatic posturing, Nora Webster is easily as memorable as either—and far more believable. To say more would spoil a masterful— and unforgettable—novel." (Betsy Burton NPR)
“The Ireland of four decades ago is beautifully evoked… Completely absorbing [and] remarkably heart-affecting.” (Booklist (starred review))
"A compelling portrait... [of] a brave woman learning how to find a meaningful life as she goes on alone." (Publishers Weekly)
“A high-wire act of an eighth novel… Toibin’s radical restraint elevates what might have been a familiar tale of grief and survival into a realm of heightened inquiry. The result is a luminous, elliptical novel in which everyday life manages, in moments, to approach the mystical… There is much about Nora Webster that we never know. And her very mystery is what makes her regeneration, when it comes, feel universal.” (Jennifer Egan, The New York Times Book Review)
“[Nora Webster] may actually be a perfect work of fiction… There is no pyrotechny in the writing — just compassion and shrewd insight. Which is where Toibin's brilliance lies… People call Toibin a beautiful writer because they don't know how otherwise to classify such a delicate talent, such empathic simplicity. Some mysteries can't be deciphered by criticism. Colm Toibin is not a beautiful writer, he's merely a great one.” (Darin Strauss, The Los Angeles Times)
“Compelling…an emotionally satisfying read…powerful.” (The Associated Press)
“Toibin’s restraint, sly humor and gentle prose cadence echo those of another Irish master, William Trevor. So does his affection for his characters… How Nora chooses to make her voice heard and how her children find ways to express their own pain provide Nora Webster’s plot and pleasure…a so-called average life can make for a thrilling read…Toibin presents one woman’s life keenly observed and honored with compassion. With Enniscorthy, he also creates a town, constrained and forever behind the times though it is, that feels like the whole world.” (The Miami Herald)
“[A] quietly moving study of a complex character and her ambiguous feelings toward the web of family and neighbors surrounding her in the small town of Enniscorthy…. All his books share precise, restrained prose, which can, in its simplicity, reach elegance.” (Maya Muir, The Portland Oregonian)
“Miraculous… a strikingly restrained novel about a woman awakening from grief and discovering her own space, her own will…extraordinary... [Toibin] portrays Nora with tremendous sympathy and understanding.” (Ron Charles, The Washington Post)
“Toibin artfully shows us a Nora unmoored…This quiet, wrenching novel conceals considerable human turbulence beneath its placid surface. So Toibin has learned well from Henry James…In many ways, Nora Webster would bring an admiring smile to the Master’s lips.” (Daniel Dyer, Cleveland Plain Dealer)
About the Author
Colm Tóibín is the author of nine novels, including The Blackwater Lightship; The Master, winner of the Los Angeles Times Book Prize; Brooklyn, winner of the Costa Book Award; The Testament of Mary; and Nora Webster, as well as two story collections. He is the Irene and Sidney B. Silverman Professor of the Humanities at Columbia University. Three times shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize, Tóibín lives in Dublin and New York.
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The relatives and townspeople had all visited as part of the mourning process, and now Nora was on her own. Nora has an mind of her own, and she is not easily led into anything she does not agree with. She finds her emotions that were pent up, coming out in strange ways. Donal has developed a stutter, and she wonders what to do. Her sister, Catherine has money to assist, but that means giving up control.
During the three years since Maurice's death we follow Nora and her thoughts. This story is told from her perspective. She gradually finds her way clear from the deepest of grief, and finds her love of music and her singing voice renewed. She starts to engage with her children, friends and relatives. Nora is an engaging woman, and from snippets of her past life, we find she could be a difficult woman. Maurice, her husband, was the love of her life and her salvation, and, now, here she was, starting anew.
Colm Toibin is one of my favorite authors. His novels are often about women, and he has keen insight. We get a glimpse of what life might be like with the 'troubles' in Northern Ireland, and how they impact on life everywhere in Ireland. Everyone knows the problems of each other in this small Irish town, and life as it was is portrayed in real time. This is not a story with fast paced narratives, but of the days in the life. Such a well written novel, it ended too quickly.
Recommended. prisrob 10-1214
Although the book does not talk a lot about it but there are glimpses of trouble in the Northern Ireland and what the people in Ireland thought about it.