Summary and book reviews of Nora, Nora by Anne River Siddons

Nora, Nora

by Anne River Siddons

Nora, Nora
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  • First Published:
    Jul 2000, 320 pages
    Paperback:
    Jul 2001, 384 pages

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Book Summary

Something is troubling Nora but she always laughs it off. When the truth comes to light, it stuns the residents of the small segregated town.

I set this story back in my own dreaming, small-town South, in my own time, 1961: that suspended time swung between two epochs that shaped America for good and all. I think I chose it because that turbulent transition was the greatest epiphany of my life, a crossing from the sweet, insular world I knew to another one, volatile and frightening and yet entirely necessary and right.
-- Anne Rivers Siddons

Peyton is not ready to share her widowed father with anyone, let alone a barely remembered cousin who just rolled into town, a cousin who smokes cigarettes and drives a pink Thunderbird. However, her father seems to like Nora well enough, and she does make for good conversation at the Losers Club, and prim Aunt Augusta hates her, which raises Nora slightly in Peyton's esteem. Maybe she isn't so bad -- maybe Nora is just what quiet Lytton, Georgia, needs this summer.

The whole household is revitalized by Nora's energy, and when she takes a job teaching the first integrated honors class at the local high school, it looks as if she might stay on forever. But soon it becomes clear that something is troubling Nora deeply. Peyton believes that whatever it is, it must be more than the snide comments made by neighbors who don't like her "unsouthern" ways. Nora always laughs that off. It has to be something from her past that's bothering her, something she is running away from. When the shocking truth comes to light, it stuns the residents of their small segregated town. It also teaches Peyton the enormous cost of loving -- and the necessity of doing it anyway.

Peyton McKenzie changed her name when she was six years old, on the first day of her first year in elementary school. For all her short life she had been called Prilla or sometimes Priscilla, her first name, the latter usually when she was In Trouble, but that stopped with rocklike finality when the first scabby classmate began to chant, "Prilla, Prilla, mother-killer." By the time the entire first grade in the Lytton Grammar School had taken up the refrain, Peyton McKenzie had been born, and there was no chance at all that she would return to the womb.

"It's a man's name, for heaven's sake, Priscilla," her Aunt Augusta said in exasperation for the fourth or fifth time, after Peyton's father had given up on her. "What's wrong with 'Priscilla'? It's a lovely name. Generations of your mama's family have named their daughters Priscilla. I believe the first was Priscilla Barnwell, who came over to Virginia well before the American Revolution. You should...

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"I set this story back in my own dreaming, small-town South, in my own time, 1961: that suspended time swung between two epochs that shaped America for good and all. I think I chose it because that turbulent transition was the greatest epiphany of my life, a crossing from the sweet, insular world I knew to another one, volatile and frightening and yet entirely necessary and right."

Plot Summary

Raised by her emotionally distant, widowed father, and their housekeeper, Peyton McKenzie has become a shy tomboy with a terrible secret. Her only outlet is The Losers' Club, where she and her fellow outcasts top one another with their day's humiliations. Though she knows it can't go on forever, Peyton is not ready to give up her ...
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Reviews

Media Reviews

People magazine

Bestselling author Siddons's story takes wing...she has again delivered.

USA Today

If you read just one classic beach book this summer, let it be Anne Rivers Siddons's Nora, Nora.

Publisher's Weekly

Nora, Nora has all the marks of bestsellerdom

Library Journal

Siddons's prose is so fluid, graceful, and lovely, that after diving in, the reader is carried along effortlessly and with great pleasure. [Nora, Nora] is a completely satisfying and nourishing read, containing both style and substance.

Author Blurb Pat Conroy
Anne Rivers Siddons has always written as though someone close to god was whispering to her. I want to say Nora, Nora is her best book, but I don't want to hurt the feelings of Peachtree Road, Outer Banks, Hill Towns or Colony or half a dozen others. She ranks among the best of us and delivers the goods-the whole fabulous package-with every book she writes.

Reader Reviews

Dreamer

Nora Nora can't be all fiction
A great book, from the heart, and at the heart of experience. Better told memories of growing up in the complexities of the South, how a young girl stumbles into womanhood, and loving. Bravo!

Anonymous
Niki Taylor
Nora, Nora by Anne Rivers Siddons is the latest in a long line of dramatic southern novels with interesting female characters by Siddons. This one involves a twelve-year-old girl named Peyton McKenzie who is frail and sensitive to the ways...   Read More

Anonymous
Judith King
When I started reading this, I kept thinking it was an awful lot like To Kill A Mockingbird, and I think that was deliberate on Siddons' part. We have Peyton, whose mother died after her birth, Dad, Aunt Augusta, the members of The Losers ...   Read More

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