Sunday, December 14th, 2014
The Short Take:
This novel moves along quietly yet really packs a wallop. It revolves around Nora, a new widow mired in grief, who struggles to reconnect to her life and her family. It’s a wonderful character study, perfectly couched in time and place.
I was reminded of Joan Didion’s The Year of Magical Thinking. Yet while the pain, journey, and quality writing were similar, that’s where the comparison ends. Didion’s memoir examines the sorrow of a woman of means and with many connections in the modern day. Fictional Nora is trapped in a painfully small Irish town in 1960/70s Ireland, struggling to make ends meet for her family.
These differences make it much easier to relate to Nora’s uncertainty, missteps, and concerns — she’s closer to most of us.
There’s no big crisis, no shocking reveal; just a series of small steps forward and back as Nora tries to establish a new balance for herself and her children. Sometimes you’ll find yourself impatient with her lack of perception, other times you’ll applaud her bold moves. She’s human. She’s real. She’s worthy of your attention.
The Short Take:
Nora has lost her beloved husband, who gave her a life a freedom as well as being her soul mate. Now, with two daughters leaving the nest and two sons still at home, she must find a way to pay the bills and rebuild her life.
At first resenting the kindness of relatives and friends wishing to help, she begins to find her footing in work and — especially — music. One tentative step at a time.
Colm Tóibín is a highly acclaimed writer. You can learn more about him and his books by clicking here.