SHORTLISTED FOR THE 2015 FOLIO PRIZE
The heartbreaking new novel from the author of Brooklyn.
"This is his best yet." Spectator, Books of the Year
"So rich, so observant, so moving" Observer, Books of the Year
"A fine companion piece to his acclaimed novel, Brooklyn ... Subtle and enthralling" Sunday Times, Books of the Year
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. Nora Webster is a novel that illuminates our own lives in a way that is rare in literature. Its humanity and compassion forge an unforgettable reading experience.
MORE PRAISE FOR NORA WEBSTER
"If there is a more brilliant writer than Tóibín working today, I don't know who that would be" Irish Times, Books of the Year
"Tender, delicately oblique in its narration, and exquisitely well-written" The Times
"A luminous, elliptical novel in which everyday life manages, in moments, to approach the mystical" Jennifer Egan, New York Times
"Beautiful and heartbreaking." Independent
"Arresting. As this novel movingly proposes, there are no ordinary women and no ordinary lives" Irish Indendent
"The story is so expertly crafted that it achieves a luminous intensity, which lingers long in the memory" Mail on Sunday
"[A] love story and a love letter . . . from one of Ireland's contemporary masters" Observer
"This novel is the real thing, rare and tremendous . . . It does everything we ought to ask of a great novel: that it respond to the fullness of our lives, be as large as life itself" Guardian, Book of the Week
T ib n's 10th novel offers a compelling portrait of an Irish woman for whom fate has prescribed loneliness. Widowed at 40, with four children and shaky finances, Nora rejects condolences and pity. She is so intent on making her children's lives normal that she ignores their need to mourn as well. In the wake of her husband's terminal illness, she instills fear and bewilderment in her two younger boys; they have nightmares, and one begins to stutter. The two girls, away at school, are resentful as well. Nora is sometimes obtuse about the choices she makes. She is short-tempered and sharp-tongued, and she makes significant mistakes but her frailties make her an appealing character. Catholicism is woven into the setting of 1970s Enniscorthy. The Church is represented by a mean, small-minded teacher in the Christian Brothers monastery school and by a saintly nun who acts as guardian angel for the family. Several years pass, in which Nora gradually finds an unexpected fulfillment in a talent she had never acknowledged. T ib n (Brooklyn) never employs dramatic fireworks to add an artificial boost to the narrative. No new suitor magically appears to fall in love with Nora. Instead, she remains a brave woman learning how to find a meaningful life as she goes on alone.