Tuesday, July 1, 2014

'Nora Webster'

An unexpected death can make you scream like a banshee, and then, out of nowhere, you feel as if grief is suffocating you.  But when you're out in public, at your job or a gathering, you're afraid you'll offend someone, so the sorrow is locked away.  You wonder if it will ever lessen, but you know it never will.

The last thing you want to read is a novel centered around the aftermath of the death of a beloved husband and father.  But, strangely enough, it was exactly what I needed.

Not many writers can pen a story that is both quiet and full of rage.  But Colm Toibin, the author of 'The Master' and 'Brooklyn' (two of my Toibin favorites) has managed to convey the quiet desperation and snide attitude of a character who will stay with you in his new book, 'Nora Webster'.

Forty year-old Nora Webster has just lost her beloved husband, Maurice, and she is left with four children and not enough money.  Maurice had pulled her out of the stifling world into which she was born, and now that he is gone, she's afraid that she'll return to her old life.

Living in a small Irish town where everyone knows everyone's business, Nora keeps tight-lipped while she goes about the task of getting a job and keeping her family together.  Awash in her own sorrow, she does not realize that her children are suffering from the loss of their father. But as she learns more about their inner lives, she has moments of unexpected kindness and empathy.

When she rediscovers singing, and sets out on a journey into the world of music, she finds her true self and her haven.
Author Colm Toibin

I didn't particularly like Nora at the beginning of the story, but Toibin's quiet exploration into her inner life, her sorrow and desperation, is indeed powerful.  We meet those who have affected her in a negative way (I disliked most of them), while those who are there for her make you want to hug them.

I could relate to her situation, and the sorrow she felt. I could relate to her determination to get 'out there' and find her bliss.  I could sense her quiet strength and the growing devotion to her sons.

But most of all, I admired the dawning of her inner power.

Her quiet inner power.

'Nora Webster' will be released in October 2014 by Scribner, a division of Simon & Schuster.  Book Hog thanks S&S for the opportunity to read this powerful story!


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