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Nora Jane: A Life in Stories

4.02  ·  Rating Details ·  427 Ratings  ·  37 Reviews
Since receiving the National Book Award for "Victory Over Japan in 1985, Ellen Gilchrist has developed a fervently devoted readership. This collection's new novella is vintage Gilchrist, taking on the continuing joys and perils of Nora Jane and company.
Paperback, 420 pages
Published August 22nd 2005 by Back Bay Books (first published 2005)
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Aug 03, 2009 Ariana rated it really liked it
A full rich read. Some craziness (leanardo da vinci appears to a character) that doesn't totally seem to fit. She has a rather breathless writing style (long sentences, lots of ands) that seems to get more so on the California sections of the book. I had a definite desire to have more of the original, young girl Nora Jane, I was disappointed that it moved quickly to the adult, but I loved all the stories. Entertaining, hopeful (which you don't get that often somehow), funny and poignant. I don't ...more
Jul 09, 2009 Shaindel rated it it was amazing
I'm pretty sure there's crack sprinkled in the pages of all Ellen Gilchrist's books because, my God, they're addictive! Gilchrist is known for her recurring characters, and this book of a compilation for fans of Nora Jane, beginning with the first Nora Jane story that was published in 1981 and ending in the newest Nora Jane installment, the novella _Fault_Lines_.

I had read other Nora Jane stories in other collections and had fallen in love with the cast of characters--Nora, Sandy, Freddy, Lydia
Susan Laddon
Nov 29, 2014 Susan Laddon rated it it was amazing
I've read this book so many times the cover is pretty tattered. I adore Ellen Gilchrist, she is simply amazing. Her writing style is just... ephemeral. She's fantastic, in my top 10 favorite authors.
Leslie Ewing-Burgesse
Mar 11, 2008 Leslie Ewing-Burgesse rated it it was amazing
A novel composed of short stories about one incredibly endearing character, as written by the author over many years, Nora Jane is basically the perfect reflection on a normal but still slightly surreal life. When reading these stories, one can see why Ellen Gilchrist, between writing other stories, kept coming back to this one character, this crowning achievement in human emotion.

We follow Nora Jane from her childhood, through her teenage years, into her young adulthood where she finds herself
Sep 30, 2013 Katherine rated it it was amazing
I loved this book! First time I've read anything by Ellen Gilchrist, but I will definitely read more of her. I fell in love with the characters and couldn't put it town. The fact that the story took place largely in the Bay Area in the 1990-2000's, when I did as well, was another draw. She writes with splendidly short, succinct sentences, and there is no extra padding to her prose.
Jul 17, 2008 Avery rated it it was amazing
This is a collection of short stories from a Southern author that I found after I moved to Virginia. It encompases a woman's life, from childhood in Louisiana to adulthood in the Bay Area. The novella at the end is my favorite. I also like the Anna Papers by this author, and Sarah Conley. She is a terrific author.
Feb 15, 2014 Judy rated it it was amazing
Love this book. all the characters are wonderful. I wanted to know them and stay in their lives. Very good read.
Jan 07, 2015 Wanda rated it did not like it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Ann Marie
Apr 04, 2008 Ann Marie rated it liked it
"Nora Jane" is a collection of stories Ellen Gilchrist wrote over a period of years, and they were collected here to tell an almost continuous story of Nora Jane from child to middle aged woman. I think I would have enjoyed this collection more if I hadn't recently read Alice Munro's "Hateship, Friendship, Courtship, Loveship, Marriage."

The early stories, especially the first one set in New Orleans that introduces us to Nora Jane and her grandmother, were my favorite. The young Nora Jane is spi
Oct 10, 2014 Hazel rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2014
There is some weird racialized shit about terrorists, and I was disappointed in that. But I love the character of Nora Jane. I love that Ellen Gilchrist creates as her main characters women who are strong in a particular way but not a masculine way, whose very strength is their femininity.
Tracy O
Oct 12, 2007 Tracy O rated it really liked it
My brother say that Tom Petty is a guilty pleasure (which I don't get because I think - why stick a value judgement on something you enjoy - can't you just think - "I like this" ? Anyway, I feel the same way about Ellen Gilchrist books. Guys will NOT like this book. Woman, especially those who've spend time in the Bay Area will really love this book. This is NOT romance novel material - it is really well written, but the topics ARE pretty womanly. Also, Ellen Gilchrist thinks her characters are ...more
Aug 11, 2016 Beth rated it really liked it
Lovely, beautiful and sometimes a bit mystical - interlinked stories centered on Nora Jane - determined, funny and unusual. Beautiful interesting characters. A delight to read.
Sep 21, 2016 Polly added it
Shelves: pb-borrowed
Jul 01, 2009 Candice rated it liked it
I was excited about reading this book, because it starts out in New Orleans, and I love being able to picture exactly where the character was located. She then moves to the San Francisco Bay Area, and I am familiar with that area as well. Pretty cool. This book is different than anything I've read in a while, but I like what I've read so far. The characters are deep and intelligent, but I don't connect on a personal level with any of them.
Apr 30, 2008 Andrea rated it did not like it
Shelves: didn-t-finish
I was looking forward to reading this so much and I was very disappointed. After the first story, which I liked, I just didn't care any more about Nora Jane. This book falls under my "Life's Too Short" rule: if it doesn't grab me in the first 50 pages or so, then it's time to move on. Maybe other readers will enjoy it more than me.
Amy Hayden
Jun 16, 2008 Amy Hayden rated it did not like it
Not the best collection of stories, but also not the worst. It was mostly hit-or-miss, and I suppose I wish I'd missed about half of them. Not nearly as groundbreaking or engaging as the cover reviews would've led me to believe.
Aug 12, 2010 Nellie rated it did not like it
I found this incredibly slow and hard to get through. All the events seemed so contrived and tried so hard to fit into a modern-day fairy tale. Overall, it was very difficult to relate to any of the characters in the book.
Nov 22, 2015 Toni rated it really liked it
Nora and her friends are delicious characters that I can't get enough of.
Sep 30, 2008 Jaimy rated it really liked it
Nora Jane is definitely my favorite Gilchrist character. She's from a broken home in New Orleans and saves her angelic, operetic voice for her family. I have read these stories again and again.
Nov 16, 2009 Diane rated it really liked it
Ellen Gilchrist is a master at short stories. Nora Jane is a series of short stories about the title character and finishes off with a novella. Nora Jane is engaging and the book a sweet read.
Apr 15, 2009 Michelle rated it it was amazing
I find this book of collected stories about NJ funny and comforting. I come back to it over and over and never get tired. Traceleen and Crystal are my favorites, but NJ is next in line.
Desiree Depinet
Apr 16, 2011 Desiree Depinet rated it it was ok
I would recommend as a read if your are in between books. Not a bad book, but it is a combination of short stories about Nora Jane so the stories and places in her life can be jumbled.
Nov 10, 2015 Sara rated it liked it
I did not enjoy this book...or collection of short stories. It seemed simplistic but some deeper meaning that I kept missing. I wouldn't recommend it.
Aug 14, 2009 Jean rated it really liked it
Really enjoyed this read! Gilchrist makes you love the characters and provides hope for the future! Happy ending with lots of bumps along the way
Robin Martin
Jul 13, 2010 Robin Martin rated it really liked it
I really like this mode-- the series of stand alone short stories that work together to form a novel. Reminded me of The Maples Stories by Updike.
Apr 21, 2010 Lindsey rated it it was ok
I have owned this book for many years and no matter how many times I pick it up, I just can't finish it. I just don't like it. Oh well.
Apr 30, 2009 Natalie rated it it was ok
A break between some heavier reading material. Looking past the cliches and how "perfect" all the main characters are it was an ok story.
Nov 21, 2008 Rose rated it really liked it
I really enjoyed reading this book. At first it starts of slow but once you get into it it's really interesting.
Jan 14, 2009 Eve rated it did not like it
I don't particularly remember...that's the theme these days. Not bad writing, just not interesting to me.
Feb 16, 2009 Robyn rated it liked it
I really liked this book, the characters are very interesting and it was easy to read.
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Ellen Gilchrist (born February 20, 1935) is an American novelist, short story writer, and poet. She won a National Book Award for her 1984 collection of short stories, Victory Over Japan.

Source: Wikipedia.
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