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Nora Webster by Colm Tóibín

Nora Webster (2014)

by Colm Tóibín

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    A Hundred Small Lessons: A Novel by Ashley Hay (Micheller7)
    Micheller7: Character study more than plot driven.

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Nora Webster, recently widowed struggles to manage her family, two daughters and two sons, as well as take on the responsibility of becoming the bread winner. There is little time for grieving and she finds herself isolated from the rest of her family in her new role.
Gradually she gains strength and independence and rediscovers the joy in life and her own untapped talents. The extended family also begin to understand, appreciate and extend a helping hand. This is an interesting look at the different ways of grieving. ( )
  HelenBaker | Aug 13, 2018 |
Nora Webster is about a woman who has become a widow at a relatively young age. The story takes place in a small town in Ireland in the 1960s. Nora is the mother of four children and she must deal with her grief while also redefining herself as a single mother. Nora is not always easy to like, but I found myself relating to her. The plot is pretty low key - it is simply about a woman learning to rely on herself. Not much happens and I can see some people finding that boring, but I liked the ordinariness of her life. I think it fits the category of strong women because although some women seem to be born strong and confront what life throws at them, others are made strong by what life gives them. In this case, Nora has no choice but to become strong for herself and her children. She has to learn to do what she needs to do regardless of what others may think of her. I do believe that she was strong.

I listened to the audio version of this novel and the reader was excellent. I definitely recommend it. ( )
  Cora-R | Jun 20, 2018 |
This is a very quite book and nothing really happens, but I loved it dearly. Nora is a great character and Toibin's writing and scene-setting abilities are at their peak. Couldn't put it down, but be forewarned that it is the furthest thing from plot-driven. ( )
  GaylaBassham | May 27, 2018 |
I really didn't like Nora for most of this book, and while I could tolerate her by the end of the book, her character and I would probably still not get along. She is very strong-willed, but without any substance to her besides stubbornness. She's also very conservative and timid where change is concerned, always mostly concerned with how her neighbors and family will react, as if she has no preferences or interests of her own. She does improve slightly over the course of the book, and her transformation after her husband's death is part of the point of this novel. I liked how the author treats grief and the ways a family moves on after losing a parent.
This novel is set in a small town in Ireland in the late 60's and early 70's, and I enjoyed this setting a lot. While this story is set away from the violence going on in Derry, Belfast and Dublin during this era, these events are always present on the periphery, as a tinge of unrest that colors the lives of everyone going on with daily life even in the rather out-of-touch community where much of this story happens.
My favorite aspect of this book was the details about what life was like for people in small non-urban communities as TV and other forms of modern media were still becoming established in the cities. As someone who is used to having millions of music tracks available instantly online, it is interesting to imagine living when a few records on a record player was a luxury, and a novelty, something friends would get together to share as if playing a few records constituted a 'recital'. I put on a playlist of classical music on spotify while I read this book, so I could listen to the pieces referenced in the story, a convenience inconceivable to Nora and her friends.
One of the boys in this book goes to great lengths to watch the moon landing, and to take photographs of the TV screen as this event was happening. If I want to I can google the moon landing and watch recorded footage of it right now (but I've already seen it a few times, so it's hardly exciting). I could also take screenshots of the video if I wanted to, or download the scans of the images NASA recorded of the mood landing, and print them out if I wanted them on my wall. None of this would be within the scope of experience or imagination of the characters in this book. It is easy to see, through the characters in this book, how huge a cultural divide there is between my generation and the ones who were adults in the 60's, especially in more remote areas. ( )
  JBarringer | Dec 30, 2017 |
Set in Ireland, this fascinating novel introduces us to the formidable Nora Webster. When Nora lost her husband, she lost the love of her life, her security, and the place where she belonged. Now she struggles to care for her four children and to make ends meet on her meager widow's pension. Struggling with grief, healing from her wounds, and terrified of what the future holds, Nora must find a way to survive in the world without Maurice. She'll discover that her strong will and desire for independence will serve her well as she journeys to discover who she is. Beautiful character development complete with the flaws that plague us all, Nora Webster is a deeply moving novel about the struggle to care for oneself while being the caretaker of others.

Bettina P. / Marathon County Public Library
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1 vote mcpl.wausau | Sep 25, 2017 |
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Brid Tóibín (1921–2000)
Niall Tóibín (1959–2004)
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"You must be fed up of them. Will they never stop coming?"
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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Information from the German Common Knowledge. Edit to localize it to your language.
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amazon ca :Set in Wexford, Ireland, and in breathtaking Ballyconnigar by the sea, Colm Toibin's tour de force eighth novel introduces the formidable, memorable Nora Webster. Widowed at 40, 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 she was born into. Wounded and self-centred from grief and the need to provide for her family, she struggles to be attentive to her children's needs and their own difficult loss. In masterfully detailing the intimate lives of one small family, Toibin has given us a vivid portrait of a time and an intricately woven tapestry of lives in a small town where everyone knows everyone's business, and where well-meaning gestures often have unforeseen consequences. Toibin has created one of contemporary fiction's most memorable female characters, one who has the strength and depth of Ibsen's Hedda Gabler. In Nora Webster, Colm Toibin is writing at the height of his powers.
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"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." --… (more)

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