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.
“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
“[Nora Webster] may actually be a perfect work of fiction… There is no pyrotechny in the writing — just compassion and shrewd insight. Which is where Toibin’s brilliance lies… People call Toibin a beautiful writer because they don’t know how otherwise to classify such a delicate talent, such empathic simplicity. Some mysteries can’t be deciphered by criticism. Colm Toibin is not a beautiful writer, he’s merely a great one.” Darin Strauss, The Los Angeles Times
“The Ireland of four decades ago is beautifully evoked… Completely absorbing [and] remarkably heart-affecting.” Booklist (starred review)
“Compelling…an emotionally satisfying read…powerful.” The Associated Press
“Miraculous… a strikingly restrained novel about a woman awakening from grief and discovering her own space, her own will…extraordinary… [Toibin] portrays Nora with tremendous sympathy and understanding.” Ron Charles, The Washington Post
“A deeply moving portrait of the flowering of a self-liberated woman, Nora Webster tells the story of all the invisible battles the heart faces every day.” Buzzy Jackson, Boston Globe
“Momentous, made with consummate art… 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, The Guardian
“Richly detailed… Tóibín’s slow pacing results in bright moments of beauty.” The New Yorker
“Heart-rendingly transcendent… Mr. Toibin’s prose has an elegant, visceral simplicity.” Janet Maslin, The New York Times