Friday, November 7, 2014

Nora Webster; Colm Toibin

Nora Webster; Colm Toibin
Scribner - 2014


Set in a small town in Ireland, it’s the late 1960’s and our title character, Nora Webster, 40, has just buried her husband. A widow with 4 children, 2 daughters who are living away from home, and 2 younger sons at home. Nora is depressed and grieving even though Maurice's death was no surprise. It came after a long illness. 

Before Nora had children, she worked as a bookkeeper at a local mill, but left the job to be a stay-at-home wife and mother. Now a widow, she finds herself needing to sell property and thinks about returning to work in order to support her family.Now she's been left with very little money and no job.

So wrapped up in her own unhappiness, Nora doesn’t seem to notice how Maurice's death has affected her young sons. Donal has started stuttering and does not want to be in school where his father used to teach. She's is not a neglectful mother though, and when there is an issue at the school she steps in. She feels that her son has been treated unfairly, so she goes to the school and insists the situation be dealt with.

Nora comes across as an unsympathetic character: cold, matter of fact and prickly, but she is also a strong and intelligent woman. As the story progresses Nora evolves.  There is a scene where she cuts and dyes her hair, and then worries about how she will be judged by others given her fairly recent widow status.

I enjoyed listening to Nora Webster, read by Fiona Shaw. The writing is pretty simple and not at all flowery, but the writing excels in that even basic details about daily life do not seem boring. Nora wasn’t a character I warmed up to, but I admired her ability to deal with her grief, grow as a woman and find a place in the world for herself as a widow.  As always, Colm Toibin knows how to write about women.  A very good story - try it.

4/5 stars
(audio book sent by publisher)

16 comments:

  1. This one is getting a ton of hype...it sounds like you liked it, but maybe it didn't quite live up to the hype for you?

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    1. I liked it Sarah, but not a favorite by the author.

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  2. It does sound kind of interesting!

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  3. I won a copy of this book, and I'm excited to read it! This will be my first book by this author, it sounds like a good one.

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  4. I have had my eye on this one...sounds like one I'd enjoy. Thanks for sharing!

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  5. Excellent review, Diane. I'm glad you enjoyed listening to this audiobook. Enjoy your weekend!

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    1. Thanks Susan, hope you had a nice weekend as well.

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  6. Nora sounds a practical down to earth character trying to deal with her husbands death in the way she knows best. My kind of character!

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    1. I know what you mean -- she did what she had to so.

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  7. Sounds a little depressing but at the same time... this Nora sounds like an interesting woman.

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  8. I've got the ARC on my nightstand and look forward to giving this author a try.

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  9. Colm Toibin is a favorite author of mine - I am currently reading this one. As always, his writing is stark and the story quiet but I am still loving it!

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