I missed getting NORA WEBSTER on Net Galley, and heard a lot of great things about it, so I got it at the library. At the same time, some of my friends really disliked this book, so I wasn’t sure what to expect. NORA WEBSTER is the story of Nora, a young woman with four children who is widowed and living in Ireland in the late 1960’s and early 1970’s. The story starts with the death of Nora’s beloved husband, Maurice, and follows her through her period of mourning and into the life that she eventually creates for herself.
This book moves at a rather slow pace, but I think that this is essential. Nora in the beginning is bogged down by grief, to the point where she can barely take care of her children. The pages felt so “grey” to me. I could feel her desolation. To be able to paint Nora’s inner self so perfectly through what surrounds her, to have the pages literally convey her mood, well – all I can say is that Tóibín is a gifted writer.
Nora gets a job and connects with some friends and her sisters. She also starts to sing. Eventually she slowly comes out of her shell – a shell which was created before Maurice died, as she had surrounded herself in her family and pretty much cut herself off to escape from her small town surroundings. She begins to realize that people actually respect her and are trying to help her.
I think one of my favorite parts of this story was when Nora auditioned for the Wexford choir. Her voice teacher had built her up so much and when she went, well, she pretty much was awful. Somehow, I loved the fact that she wasn’t amazing or wonderful. And I loved even more how she just carried on. She didn’t stop singing or blame them; she realized that her singing was for herself and it didn’t matter what others thought.
Nora reminds me of an Irish Olive Kitteridge. She’s not perfect or even terribly likable, but she is very human.
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