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Nora Webster [Kindle Edition]

Colm Tóibín
4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (249 customer reviews)

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Book Description

* * * Shortlisted for the 2014 Costa Novel Awards and the 2015 Folio Prize * * *

Nora Webster is the heartbreaking new novel from one of the greatest novelists writing today.

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 and 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.

'A profoundly gifted world writer' Sebastian Barry

Colm Tóibín was born in Enniscorthy in 1955. He is the author of eight novels, including The Blackwater Lightship, The Master and The Testament of Mary, all three of which were shortlisted for the Booker Prize with The Master also winning the IMPAC Award, Brooklyn which won the Costa Novel Award and Nora Webster which was shortlisted for the Costa Novel Award in 2014 and the Folio Prize in 2015. He has also published two collections of stories and many works of non-fiction. He lives in Dublin.

Product Description


A fine companion piece to his acclaimed novel, Brooklyn . . . Mixing irony and nostalgia in its portrayal of a provincial Irish town. Subtle and enthralling (Sunday Times, Books of the Year)

Tóibín's measured prose and close attention to emotional nuance is shown at its best here (Daily Telegraph, Books of the Year)

This is his best yet. The ache of a widow's grief is rendered with such an unadorned intensity that you might not think the book could be entertaining too, but it is (Spectator, Books of the Year)

A clear-sighted yet sympathetic portrait of a woman destabilised by grief (Financial Times, Books of the Year)

So rich, so observant, so moving (Observer, 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 . . . There is much about Nora Webster that we never know. And her very mystery is what makes her regeneration, when it comes, feel universal (Jennifer Egan New York Times)

Beautiful and heartbreaking. It's so richly detailed and laced with such dialogue that you feel like you are living in Nora's world (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)

This novel deserves to be read as closely as Nora listens to Beethoven. It leaves you with much to ponder . . . Our bond with the Websters makes us imagine they're out there, living and longing, with fire crackling in their hearth (Guardian)

[A] love story and a love letter . . . from one of Ireland's contemporary masters (Observer)

This very readable novel undercuts the cliches of misery fiction . . . Tóibín's great weapon in this regard is Nora's genuine agency as a character. Both she and the novel which bears her name are defined by what has come before, this is true, both both are more interested in moving forward than being caught in the past (Irish Examiner)

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 (Tessa Hadley Guardian 'Book of the Week')

A work of extraordinary achievement. In Nora Webster the slow build-up of pressure, the sense of pain experienced and barely withstood, is cumulatively almost unbearable, and the climax provides a catharsis that raises the hairs on the back of your head. The novel at once takes it place with the very best of Tóibín's fiction (Roy Foster Irish Times)

In plain and unsentimental prose, Colm Tóibín has created a character who, in her recently widowed state, must find her way through life for herself and her children. Deftly depicting the self-confined world of Nora and her boys, Tóibín provokes sympathy from the reader, but also unexpected feelings of frustation as Nora dwells on the death of a husband who cushioned her against the realities of life. As haunting as Hedda Gabler, Tóibín's latest offering a triumphant addition to his canon. The relatable voice of Nora Webster will remain with the reader long after the story has ended (The Lady)

Nora Webster is a beautiful and heartbreaking portrayal of one woman's experience of depression and loneliness. But it also evokes the protagonist's struggle to find - and express - her own voice and identity. Quietly perceptive and [a] wonderfully modulated portrayal . . . It's so richly detailed and laced with such dialogue that you feel like you are living in Nora's world. Very moving (Radar)

Moving, honest and truthful, this is a masterful depiction of the grief process (Psychologies)

Beautifully told (Good Housekeeping)

Tóibín is a master at evoking emotions with particular sensitivity . . . This is a beguiling story that envelops readers like Irish mist. The slow unhurried narrative keeps pace with Nora's grief and changing emotions. By the time she is ready to cut the last ties to her husband, Tóibín has woven the complex threads of family life into a portrait of a much-loved woman (Daily Express)

A moving masterpiece. Tóibín really plumbs the heart of his characters (Women and Home)

As elegantly and delicately wrought as gossamer . . . What makes Nora Webster so intriguing is the author's complex and nuanced attitudes both to the period and his characters (Metro)

Once again Colm Tóibín proves he knows women perhaps better than we know ourselves in this quietly devastating portrait of a grieving widow's tortoise-like re-emergence into the world. Tóibín provides a seductive narrative, moments of levity and an entirely honest portrayal of a woman struggling to simply be herself and rebuild her life (Mariella Frostrup Waitrose, Books of the Year)

If there is a more brilliant writer than Tóibín working today, I don't know who that would be (Karen Joy Fowler Irish Times, Books of the Year)

About the Author

Colm Tóibín was born in Ireland in 1955. He is the author of five other novels, including The Blackwater Lightship and The Master, both of which were shortlisted for the Booker Prize, and a collection of stories, Mothers and Sons.

Product details

  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • File Size: 917 KB
  • Print Length: 385 pages
  • Publisher: Penguin (2 Oct. 2014)
  • Sold by: Amazon Media EU S.à r.l.
  • Language: English
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Enabled
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (249 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #456 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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More About the Author

Colm Tóibín was born in Enniscorthy in 1955. He is the author of eight novels including Blackwater Lightship, The Master and The Testament of Mary, all three of which were nominated for the Booker Prize, with The Master also winning the IMPAC Award, and Brooklyn, which won the Costa Novel Award. He has also published two collections of stories and many works of non-fiction. His most recent novel is Nora Webster. He lives in Dublin.

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
74 of 78 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars 'Beauty is truth, truth beauty' 22 Oct. 2014
Format:Kindle Edition
When we meet Nora, it's some weeks since her husband Maurice died after a lengthy illness, and the story takes us through the next three years or so of her life. The book is set in Tóibín's own birth town of Enniscorthy in County Wexford just at the turn of the decade to the 1970s. This means it's positioned between two of Tóibín's earlier works: Brooklyn, about a young Irish girl sent abroad from the same town as an economic migrant in the 1950s, and The Blackwater Lightship, about three generations of women forced together by grief and trying to overcome old resentments. Although these books are entirely separate from this one in terms of story and characters, Tóibín makes reference to them both early on, and it would not be unreasonable, I feel, to see the three as a loose trilogy, building together to show us the changes in this small old-fashioned society over the decades, especially as they affected women. Brooklyn was set at a time when girls were still expected to conform to traditions upheld by their families and church in terms of their lives and marriages, while in The Blackwater Lightship, Helen has broken almost completely from this society and its traditions, though we see how they can still exert an emotional hold over her. Here, through Nora Webster, we see the midway point - the cusp of feminism if you like, arriving late in this small backwater, when women were beginning to see the possibilities of a life not pre-defined for them by parents or husbands. Read more ›
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
(4.5 stars) Nora Webster, recently widowed in her mid-forties, has decided to sell the now-deteriorating country cottage on the Irish coast in Cush, where her family has spent summers for many years. Her drive to the Irish seaside to clean out the property is one she makes alone, leaving her two young sons in the care of others while she works. Reminiscing about the past, her beloved husband Maurice, and the family vacations there over the course of twenty years, she realizes how much her children will miss it, and she feels guilty because she feels she may have failed them.

Throughout much of this intense character study by Colm Toibin, which takes place in the late 1960s and early 1970s, Nora Webster observes the niceties – common, traditional actions which give her a way to deal with reality without thinking too much – and since she is reluctant to share her feelings directly with anyone, it is up to the reader to figure out her inner needs and moods by observing her behavior. The author smoothly develops Nora’s character without resorting to overt explanations of her thoughts and moods, and he controls our perceptions of Nora without using emotionally charged adjectives like “frenzied” or “cold,” or adverbs like “regretfully,” or “angrily” to describe her behavior for the reader. Through vibrant, often touching, scenes in which the characters speak and interact Toibin draws in the reader so subtly that one never feels manipulated.
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11 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Days In The Life 12 Oct. 2014
In the late 1960's, Ireland was just about to enter troubled times. In Wexford, Ireland, in the southeast, Nora Webster was in the midst of her own troubled times. Her husband,Maurice had died. She had left her four children to be with him in the hospital during the last two months of his illness. In the beginning of her mourning, she had little idea what her children had gone through. Fiona was in Dublin in teacher's school, Aine was at boarding school,and her two sons, Donal and Conor, at local school. The boys had spent the past two months with her Aunt Josie. Now, Nora was faced with the real world, no money, a small pension and she decides to sell their seaside home at Cush. She accepts the offer of a poorly paid office job in the firm where she worked as a young woman.

The relatives and townspeople had all visited as part of the mourning process, and now Nora was on her own. Nora has an mind of her own, and she is not easily led into anything she does not agree with. She finds her emotions that were pent up, coming out in strange ways. Donal has developed a stutter, and she wonders what to do. Her sister, Catherine has money to assist, but that means giving up control.

During the three years since Maurice's death we follow Nora and her thoughts. This story is told from her perspective. She gradually finds her way clear from the deepest of grief, and finds her love of music and her singing voice renewed. She starts to engage with her children, friends and relatives. Nora is an engaging woman, and from snippets of her past life, we find she could be a difficult woman. Maurice, her husband, was the love of her life and her salvation, and, now, here she was, starting anew.

Colm Toibin is one of my favorite authors.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
1.0 out of 5 stars One Star
Published 2 hours ago by Michele Le Jeune
5.0 out of 5 stars you'll identify with the thoughts and happenings within this fine...
If you've lost someone dear to you, you'll identify with the thoughts and happenings within this fine novel. My respects to the author.
Published 3 days ago by Amazon Customer
4.0 out of 5 stars Loved this book
Loved this book. Really felt authentic about how life was like in Ireland at that time. First time I have read Colm Toibin and will be reading more.
Published 3 days ago by Catherine Sillars
3.0 out of 5 stars Pleasant
An easy read. Not really my type of book but enjoyable all the same. Not sure if I'd recommend it
Published 4 days ago by maryanne daly
3.0 out of 5 stars Three Stars
Enjoyed the insights into rural Irish life of the time .Story a slow.Still a Colm Toibin fan
Published 4 days ago by Mrs ME OSullivan
4.0 out of 5 stars A melancholy tale
Nora Webster is recently widowed with 2 young sons in Southern Ireland. This charming, beautifully written book gently takes the reader through Nora's emotional journey as she... Read more
Published 4 days ago by YinxFed
4.0 out of 5 stars Four Stars
No further comment.
Published 5 days ago by Alec Porter
4.0 out of 5 stars Not for those who like a plot
A study of grief - a gentle story with no action but written sensitively. Not for those who like a plot. Read more
Published 6 days ago by S. Holt
2.0 out of 5 stars Not for me!
Dreary and dull. Uninspiring story which was a struggle to complete. Definitely not a page turner.
Published 6 days ago by Kindle Customer
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Published 6 days ago by Mrs. J. M. Pinching
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