November 8, 2015

Nora Webster

Nora Webster by Colm Toibin
2014 Simon & Schuster Audio 
Reader: Fiona Shaw
Finished on April 1, 2005
Rating: 2/5 (Fair)

Publisher's Blurb:

From one of contemporary literature's bestselling, critically acclaimed and beloved authors, a magnificent new novel set in Ireland, about a fiercely compelling young widow and mother of four navigating grief and fear, struggling for hope.

Set in Wexford, Ireland, Colm Toibin's seventh novel introduces the formidable, memorable and deeply moving Nora Webster. Widowed at forty, with four children and not enough money, Nora has lost the love of her life, Maurice, the man who rescued her from the stifling world to which she was born. And now she fears she may be drawn back into it. Wounded, strong-willed, clinging to secrecy in a tiny community where everyone knows your business, Nora is drowning in her own sorrow and blind to the suffering of her young sons, who have lost their father. Yet she has moments of stunning empathy and kindness, and when she begins to sing again, after decades, she finds solace, engagement, a haven--herself.

Nora Webster is a masterpiece in character study by a writer at the zenith of his career, "beautiful and daring" (The New York Times Book Review) and able to "sneak up on readers and captures their imaginations" (USA Today). In Nora Webster, Toibin has created an iconic and engaging character who will be remembered for decades, even centuries.

Colm Toibin is one of those authors (as are Wallace Stegner and Ivan Doig) that I've always meant to read, so when I came across the ARC for Nora Webster I was intrigued. Of course, the book sat on one of my shelves for quite some time and it wasn't until I saw the audio book at my library that I finally decided to give it a try. I alternated between the print and audio editions and almost abandoned the book on more than one occasion, but I kept listening, hoping it would win me over. I can't say I loved it (or even liked it a lot), but it did speak to me (with regard to the ways in which one grieves), in spite of being fairly dull and bleak.

How about you? Are you a fan of Toibin's works? Any recommendations? 


  1. I enjoyed Brooklyn (on audio) and some of Toibin's short stories, too. The Master has been on my kindle forever, but I really want to read The Blackwater Lightship more. Borrowed Nora Webster from the library shortly after it was released and read the first chapter or two... it didn't really grab me.

    1. Glad to know I'm not the only one who didn't care for Nora Webster. Thanks for the recommendation. I'll see about getting Brooklyn on audio.

  2. I've never read his work and your description of this one doesn't make me want to any time soon.

    1. Well, it's certainly not the most cheerful book I've ever read, that's for certain!


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