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Thursday, March 5, 2015

Nora Webster by Colm Toibin

The beauty in Toibin's writing is in it's normalcy.  He is a good story teller who makes ordinary lives interesting.  Nora Webster is unexpectedly widowed in a small Irish town.  She hasn't worked in 20 years and she has almost nothing to live on.  It is the story of a woman who stayed home to raise her children after working as a shop girl, so that when she is faced with going back to work again the only job she knows is one that can barely put food on the table.  She has no skills and no resume.  To top it all off, she has four children, two girls who are out of the house and two boys who are not.  She is also bereft at the loss of her husband, so sad that she is unable to provide any comfort to her children.  She can barely hang onto the home they grew up in, and it is not enough for them.

I know, this sounds unbearable, but it is not. It is well told and while the story itself is one of a slowly unfolding grief, it is so well written that the reader is swept along with the story, feeling what the character feels. Nora is very likable.  She doesn't have much in her corner other than her innate goodness, but that is enough, and while things do not go her way much of the book, the reader is squarely in her camp. 

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