Nora Webster by Colm Toibin

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Nora Webster by Colm Toibin

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Category: General Fiction
Rating: 4/5
Reviewer: Luke Marlowe
Reviewed by Luke Marlowe
Summary: A quietly affecting look at how grief can affect a family, and how one woman learns to move on following the death of her husband. Moving and tender, Colm Toibin has created a strong character in Nora, and it all makes for a deeply satisfying read
Buy? Yes Borrow? Yes
Pages: 320 Date: October 2014
Publisher: Penguin Viking
External links: Author's website
ISBN: 9780670918140

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Shortlisted for the Costa Novel Award 2014

Ireland - the late 1960's. After a short spell of illness, Maurice has died. Nora, his widow, is left alone with four children, and struggles to put her life back together. As time goes on, she begins work again, makes new friends, rediscovers her love for music, and watches the children grow.

Colm Toibin is a well loved author - with successes such as Brooklyn and The Testament of Mary in recent years. He's a writer who seems naturally talented in writing incredibly human, true to life characters, and the ones that appear in Nora Webster are no such exceptions.

Nora herself is a wonderful character. A strong woman and a loving mother, she nonetheless struggles massively with moving on, and bringing up the children alone. Full of warmth and drive, she is a woman you'll wish you knew by the end of this book. Other characters who appear are also wonderfully captured, particularly Aunt Josie and Elizabeth Gibney. I do wish we had seen more of Nora's two daughters, but given that this book only captures a small snapshot of Nora's life, it's completely understandable that not all characters are dwelt on for great lengths of time.

Whilst a book about grief and moving on may seem depressing, this is in fact an uplifting novel, as Nora discovers an inner strength, a sense of independence, and passions that she had long thought hidden away. It's all like a calmer, more dignified Shirley Valentine, and I was loathe to leave Nora and her family when I finished. The personal viewpoint of various troubles taking place within Ireland at the time are also fascinating, yet the focus never strays from the wonderfully strong characters.

Beautifully written, with richly drawn characters and a touching, funny and instantly relatable plot, Colm Toibin has created something wonderful in Nora Webster.

Nora Webster will stick in my mind for a very long time

Many thanks to Penguin Viking for the copy.

If you enjoy Nora Webster, I'd certainly recommend Brooklyn. Another strong, wonderfully drawn heroine in a book of that has a quiet yet moving power. And another master of capturing human emotion and psychology is Patrick Gale. I'd recommend any and everything by him, but his upcoming A Place Called Winter by Patrick Gale is a perfect example of that talent.

Booklists.jpg Nora Webster by Colm Toibin is in the Costa Book Awards 2014.

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