Nora Webster: Book summary and reviews of Nora Webster by Colm Toibin

Nora Webster

by Colm Toibin

Nora Webster
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  • Published in USA  Oct 2014
    384 pages
    Genre: Novels

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Book Summary

From one of contemporary literature's bestselling, critically acclaimed and beloved authors, a magnificent new novel set in Ireland, about a fiercely compelling young widow and mother of four, navigating grief and fear, struggling for hope.

Set in Wexford, Ireland, Colm Tóibín's superb seventh novel introduces the formidable, memorable and deeply moving Nora Webster. Widowed at forty, with four children and not enough money, Nora has lost the love of her life, Maurice, the man who rescued her from the stifling world to which she was born. And now she fears she may be drawn back into it. Wounded, strong-willed, clinging to secrecy in a tiny community where everyone knows your business, Nora is drowning in her own sorrow and blind to the suffering of her young sons, who have lost their father. Yet she has moments of stunning empathy and kindness, and when she begins to sing again, after decades, she finds solace, engagement, a haven - herself.

Nora Webster is a masterpiece in character study by a writer at the zenith of his career, "beautiful and daring" (The New York Times Book Review) and able to "sneak up on readers and capture their imaginations" (USA TODAY). In Nora Webster, Tóibín has created a character as iconic, engaging and memorable as Madame Bovary or Hedda Gabler.

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Reviews

Media Reviews

"Starred Review. A novel of mourning, healing and awakening; its plainspoken eloquence never succumbs to the sentimentality its heroine would reject." - Kirkus

"Starred Review. The Ireland of four decades ago is beautifully evoked… Completely absorbing [and] remarkably heart-affecting." - Booklist

"[A] compelling portrait of an Irish woman for whom fate has prescribed loneliness." - Publishers Weekly

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Reader Reviews

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Diane S.

Nora Webster
In plain and unsentimental prose, Toibin gives us the story of a woman, Nora Webster, whose husband of many years has died. Leaving her alone, with two younger boys and two older daughters, she must find her way through life for herself and her children.

I enjoyed this quiet and unassuming novel, watching Nora and the boys change as Nora learns to live her own life. I loved the moment, three years later, when she realizes she can do what she wants now, that there is no one who can tell her she can't. In this case, it was about redecorating her home. I loved the two boys, they too change in many ways, but the youngest watches closely everything that goes on. It takes great skill as a writer to make the most common events interesting and for me this author did just that.

Taking place in Ireland against the backdrop of the Catholic protestant violence and the burning of the embassy, but also against the backdrop of wonderful music, Nora eventually finds her way forward. It takes the help of family, a wonderful ex-nun who is a music teacher and another nun who watches out for Nora from afar.

A wonderful and unassuming read.

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Author Information

Colm Toibin Author Biography

Photo: Bruce Weber

Colm Tóibín was born in 1955 in Enniscorthy, County Wexford, Ireland, the second youngest of five children. He graduated from University College Dublin in 1975 and promptly moved to Barcelona for three years. His experiences in Spain informed his first novel The South (1990). Tóibín returned to Ireland to pursue a masters but never matriculated. He left academia for a career in journalism and was editor of the prominent Irish news magazine Macgill from 1982 to 1985. He has taught literature and creative writing at Princeton and Stanford Universities, among others, and currently lives in Dublin.

Along with writing a number of critically-acclaimed novels, Tóibín has also worked as a critic and editor of a variety of anthologies, like The ...

Full Biography
Link to Colm Toibin's Website

Name Pronunciation
Colm Toibin: CULL-um Toe-BEAN

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