It is the late 1960s in Ireland. Nora Webster is living in a small town, looking after her four children, trying to rebuild her life after the death of her husband. She is fiercely intelligent, at times difficult and impatient, at times kind, but she is trapped by her circumstances, and waiting for any chance which will lift her beyond them.
Slowly, through the gift of music and the power of friendship, she finds a glimmer of hope and a way of starting again. As the dynamic of the family changes, she seems both fiercely self-possessed but also a figure of great moral ambiguity, making her one of the most memorable heroines in contemporary fiction.
The portrait that is painted in the years that follow is harrowing, piercingly insightful, always tender and deeply true. Colm Tóibín’s Nora is a character as resonant as Anna Karenina or Madame Bovary.
NOMINATING LIBRARY COMMENTS
In a quiet, nearly deceptive strain of storytelling, the social turmoil of late 1960s Ireland is exemplified through the narrative of Nora Webster. She is a strong young Irish widow who shapes her own life in a small town. Through her struggles, Tóibín explores the deeper meaning of family, community and country.
This novel is a quiet, deceptively simple, and elegiac story of grief and personal transformation.
Nora Webster, a young widow and mother of four is going through the period of time after her husband’s death in the suffocating atmosphere of small town Ireland of the f1960s where conventions rule and Nora’s personal needs are ignored. But she possesses the courage and intelligence to resist expectations and to build a life for herself. The novel is written in Colm Tóibín’s lucid and elegant prose.
This is a powerful and subtle study of widowhood, loneliness and human belonging to certain surroundings in time and space. It is a poignant parable of man’s ways in life and death, enriched by a masterly reconstruction in word of a small-town Ireland in all its beauty. The author actually re-creates in his fiction the Irishness as it is.