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Nora Webster

3.59  ·  Rating details ·  17,021 ratings  ·  2,520 reviews
From one of contemporary literature's most acclaimed and beloved authors comes this magnificent new novel set in a small town in Ireland in the 1960s, where a fiercely compelling, too-young widow and mother of four moves from grief, fear, and longing to unexpected discovery. Toibin's portrayal of the intricacy and drama of ordinary lives brings to mind of the work of Alice ...more
Hardcover, 373 pages
Published October 7th 2014 by Scribner (first published October 2014)
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Lizp There should be a sequel, Kathleen and Linda! I want to know what happens with everyone. If Fiona dumps her humourless boyfriend, if Aine enters polit…moreThere should be a sequel, Kathleen and Linda! I want to know what happens with everyone. If Fiona dumps her humourless boyfriend, if Aine enters politics, if Donal loses his stutter and becomes a journalist and photographer, what happens to curious Conor when he finishes secondary, how Nora fares into her 50s, etc.

I bought the book in late 2014 and recently read it again for the fourth time. I was so sad leaving it and its rich cast of characters. (less)
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JZ NJ
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Julie Christine
Most of us lead lives of quiet desperation, knocked about every so often by rude shocks or lifted up by brief, brilliant joys. But our quotidian troubles and triumphs rarely create ripples beyond our own little ponds.

As readers, we often gravitate toward lives played out on a grander scale—adventures, dalliances, crimes, and misdemeanors far more colorful than our own. But reader, if you haven’t experienced the transcendent storytelling of Ireland’s Colm Tóibín, you may not know what it’s like t
...more
Laura
Oct 18, 2014 rated it did not like it
Another admirable book that I wish I could say I enjoyed more than I did. I understand that Nora is grieving and that we can only assume she loved her husband, although there’s scant evidence to support this. I have no idea why seemingly perfect Maurice would ever have married Nora, but let’s assume she was a vivacious, engaged spouse before grief took away any semblance of personality. But the Nora we spend 373 pages with is one passive, emotionally estranged individual. I suppose she’s let gri ...more
Ron Charles
Sep 12, 2014 rated it really liked it
Colm Tóibín’s most recent book was about a grieving woman, too. But she was the mother of Jesus Christ, so the stakes seemed somewhat higher. In his new novel, “Nora Webster,” the Irish master has posed an entirely different challenge for himself: Rather than imagining the angry rant of the Virgin who changed human history, he describes a mother who never accomplishes anything unusual, never claims any position in the affairs of the world at all.

It’s far more believable and, ultimately, more mir
...more
Steven Godin
Apparently, Colm Tóibín wrote the first chapter of 'Nora Webster' in the spring of 2000, but didn't get to complete it fully until September 2013. Saying - "I thought about it every day in between, and wrote sections of it every year". This was a project that was clearly dear to him, and written in a way that shows a great love for his country. Sadly, all that time spent over one novel didn't result in the read I thought it would be. It's a personal, intimate story, the portrait of a grieving wo ...more
Laura McNeal
Oct 09, 2014 rated it it was amazing
I don't know how he does it. The sentences are deceptively plain, and at first the novel feels almost colorless, odorless, mute. If you tried to explain the plot to someone, and you said, "It's about an Irish woman with four children whose husband dies while she's in her 40's," and you said that she didn't meet anyone or fall in love again, and there's no adultery, no startling revelation, no reversal, no trip to India or the Appalachian trail or the Outback, the book might sound as if it has no ...more
Diane S ☔
Apr 07, 2014 rated it really liked it
In plain and unsentimental prose, Toibin gives us the story of a woman, Nora Webster, whose husband of many years has died. Leaving her alone, with two younger boys and two older daughters, she must find her way through life for herself and her children.

I enjoyed this quiet and unassuming novel, watching Nora and the boys change as Nora learns to live her own life. I loved the moment, three years later, when she realizes she can do what she wants now, that there is no one who can tell her she ca
...more
Paula
What a wonderfully written book. Nora Webster takes you on a journey of an Irish woman who looses her husband and rediscovers her love of music. During this journey, she starts to understand her children and others with more compassion and interest in their lives.

Colm Toibin, short-listed twice for the Man Booker prize, did not disappoint with Nora Webster. One of the Washington Post's five Best Audiobooks of 2014, Nora Webster is a wonderful listening experience. The lovely voice of Nora is rea
...more
Leslie
I wanted to like Nora Webster by Colm Tóibín, but in the end I was left disappointed by the book. This was one of those books that from the start I never got into. Disconnected would be the word I would use to describe my feelings on the story. I was reading the story but I never felt anything towards it. The end result was the complete opposite of what I was expecting from the book when I read its synopsis.

I wanted to feel something for the title character, Nora Webster. I was looking to read h
...more
Rebecca
Aug 07, 2014 rated it liked it
A subtle portrait of a bereaved family in late 1960s Ireland. Nora, 40, has lost her husband Maurice to sudden illness. Repressing her own grief, she helps her four children move on. She will sell the summer house, get a job, and try to maintain a semblance of normality: vacations in Ireland and Spain, hobbies, and the school year’s rhythms. But how to keep going when life has lost all purpose? “When she asked herself what she was interested in, she had to conclude that she was interested in not ...more
Darlene
Dec 31, 2014 rated it it was amazing
I became a fan of writer, Colm Toibin, after reading his novel 'Brooklyn' several years ago. If you are a reader who prefers a story filled with action, then Mr. Toibin's writing is probably not for you. But if you are a reader, like me, who falls in love with characters, I think you will enjoy Mr. Toibin's latest novel, 'Nora Webster'.

In 'Nora Webster', Colm Toibin returns to his Irish home and the story takes place in Wexford, Ireland. The year is 1969 and against the backdrop of the lunar la
...more
Carol
Aug 21, 2014 rated it did not like it
Virtually nothing of interest happens in this book. It is a long slog of a widow's daily life and her trials and tribulations which don't amount to much. Nora has no notion of grace and appears ungrateful for all the efforts of people around her who try to help her through her endless grief. The other characters come and go leaving little impression at all.

Then we discover that during her husband's two-month illness, she left her two minor boys with an aunt and never once visited them or talked
...more
Peter Boyle
Sep 29, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: irish
I can't believe it took me so long to get around to Colm Tóibín. Within a few pages I was fully immersed in this tale of love and sorrow in a small Irish village.

The story is set in 1969. Nora Webster, the mother of two girls and two younger boys, has just lost her husband Maurice. His death has left a huge hole in their lives. She worries about money and how she's going to provide for her family. Most of all, she's concerned about how her children will cope without her father. Her neighbours h
...more
switterbug (Betsey)
Sep 17, 2014 rated it it was amazing
t's a modest elegance that pulls you along in this story of 40-ish Irish widow Nora Webster and her family in County Wexford, in Ireland. The gulf between wife and widowhood is daily captured by Nora's inscrutable, withdrawn demeanor and period of emotional turmoil. She is struggling to adjust without her husband, Maurice, who died three months ago. He was a fine teacher and a capable, loving partner, although he didn't share her love of music. It begins circa 1969; no dates are mentioned, but o ...more
Angela M
Jan 21, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition


There is no end to the world as we know it , except that it feels this way to Nora Webster and her family as they suffer the loss of a husband and father . There is no violence here in Wexford, except there is in the cities around them . There is no major dramatic event in this place , except for what it seems to this family , but in the world at large a man is landing on the moon.

What I did find here was a quiet reflection on the everyday lives of people from the mundane of Nora's work in the o
...more
Snotchocheez
Dec 17, 2014 rated it it was ok


I'm just not understanding the raves on this one at all. The catch words from fellow Goodreaders that drew me to read Colm Tóibín's Nora Webster were poetic, understated, gorgeous, elegant bereavement, Olive Kitteridge (huh? Really? In what alternate literary universe could this hold a candle to Ms Strout's short-storied delight?)

I felt no connection at all to the titular Nora, a Wexford, Ireland (circa late 1960s) mother of four whose husband passes away from heart ailments. And I was totally
...more
Cheryl
This book settled on to me, and so I settled in to it.

You know when you’re younger, you think that - wherever you are - nothing happens here. Things happen elsewhere. But never here. It’s just regular stuff here. It’s just regular, plain old life. And you itch for the big L ‘Life’. When will that start?
Oooohhh, look, a bit of drama here, aah that wrinkle smooths out into the everyday fabric now, moving on.
Tragedy strikes, such a blow, how can one possibly cope, get over it, pick up with life’s
...more
Ailsa
Jan 16, 2017 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
"This might of been what Maurice dreaded the most when he was dying, that there would come a time when he would not be missed, that they would all manage without him. He would be the one left out."

An unbearably intimate portrait of a woman grieving over the loss of her husband. Disconnected from her children and family she faces her neighbours' suffocating pity and struggles to find contentment. Nora is a nuanced character, sympathetic but not entirely likeable. It's almost painful to read her a
...more
Mary
Jul 01, 2015 rated it liked it
Shelves: fiction, 2015, ireland
This is my second Toibin book and I had the same issues this time around: I mostly enjoyed it and wasn’t too bored, but when I finished I was just sort of 'meh' about the whole thing. I read that Toibin writes about silence and the subtle ways people interact with each other and deal with their pain. Those with families who suppress emotions will likely relate to this; those with fiery, door-slamming families will be left frustrated by the emptiness. I also read that Nora was partly based on Toi ...more
Gearóid
Oct 04, 2014 rated it it was amazing
This was a really lovely book to read.

Colm Toibin seems to have a great insight into human nature.
In this book he really explores grief and loss and loneliness and
carrying on with life even after a real tragedy in a young family.

His characters are just so real and you really connect with them.
It was a very moving story and beautifully written with great descriptions
of the times which happen to be the times when i would have been the same age
as Nora Webesters sons and even have spent summer holid
...more
aPriL does feral sometimes
‘Nora Webster’ is dull and slow. I get what the author was writing about - a woman coming out from under her old role as a wife and mother - but on the other hand, personally I've never been able to understand the small, scared tentative attempts to change while apparently being more terrified and concerned about the community's opinion. Some people care more about their surface appearances of emotion, apparently, than acting authentically, and Nora is one of these people. These kinds of women s ...more
GTF
Jun 24, 2019 rated it it was ok
Although 'Nora Webster' showcases some of Tóibín's signature vivid writing, the novel is written under a very thin plot. For the most part, it is a dull account of one woman's stoicism following the death of her husband.

Firstly, I think that Tóibín should have given the protagonist of Nora Webster a wider range of emotion; her frequent passiveness and taciturn nature made her come across as apathetic a lot of the time. Secondly, the narration was not thought-provoking or profound enough to comp
...more
Will Ansbacher
Apr 18, 2016 rated it liked it
Sometimes as you pass in the street, your eyes meet a stranger's for a moment before you look away: it's nothing more than a shared acknowledgement of humanity. That fleeting interaction is at a level only slightly lower than the intensity generated in Colm Toibin's Nora Webster. But despite that, this is a book that slowly began to grow on me.

At the beginning Norah's husband Maurice has just died after a long and awful illness, leaving her with two older daughters Fiona and Aine, and two young
...more
Linda
I won this book in a Goodreads Giveaway program in exchange for an unbiased review.

Unlike the majority who've read this book before me, I found this book about a widower of four children dull and lifeless. The story is about a grieving woman who must move forward after the death of her husband and put one foot in front of the other which she does very stoically with quiet but admirable strength. Nora very slowly transforms herself from someone who lived behind her husband's shadow to someone who
...more
Bart Moeyaert
Jul 28, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
De Ierse schrijver Colm Tóibín heb ik ontdekt door mijn nichtje dat een hele studie aan hem wijdde. Toen dacht ik: lezen. Wat ben ik blij dat ik dat besluit genomen heb. Met ‘Het verhaal van de nacht’ ben ik begonnen, en sindsdien geloof ik dat Tóibín nooit eens een mindere dag heeft.
Ik heb nog lang niet alles van hem gelezen, maar na o.a. ‘Brooklyn’ en ‘Een lange winter’ is het met ‘Nora’ weer raak. In het Engels draagt het boek Nora’s volledige naam, ‘Nora Webster’, en dat past wat mij betreft
...more
Wanda
Dec 04, 2014 rated it really liked it
Nora Webster is a young widow in 1960s Ireland. She is charming, formidable, weak, heart-broken, and grief-stricken by turns. In age, Nora falls between my mother’s and my grandmother’s generations—about the time that women were supposed to aspire only to being housewives and that men were in charge of the finances and the family. When her husband Maurice dies, she is left as sole parent to four children and provider to at least the two youngest. She has to find her financial feet and deal with ...more
Teresa
Nov 10, 2016 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: n-irlanda, e2
Nora Webster é uma mulher de quarenta anos, com quatro filhos que vive na Irlanda nos anos 60. A história inicia-se seis meses após a morte do marido de Nora e termina três anos depois. Durante este tempo ela procura formas de subsistência - vende a casa de férias e começa a trabalhar -, cuida dos filhos e liberta-se da influência de amigos e familiares que a pretendem ajudar (e controlar?), conquistando a sua independência.
A narrativa centra-se mais nas acções da personagem do que nos seus sen
...more
Emily
May 23, 2014 rated it liked it
I love Tóibín's writing, but this book just didn't do it for me. It's a quiet, contemplative kind of story, focusing on Nora's life after the sudden, early death of her husband. While the relationships are written in an interesting way and I enjoyed reading about life in 1960s Ireland, I didn't feel enough of a connection to Nora for this book to be memorable.

Like Nora, I'm also the oldest of three sisters, and I would have liked this angle to be explored more. There's a long, twisted family hi
...more
eb
Jul 18, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Read a plot overview of Nora Webster, and it might not sound that exciting—a 40-something mother struggles along following the death of her husband—but I found it to be a rip-roaring page-turner. Tóibín is a wizard at capturing the huge tension all humans feel during everyday interactions: clashing with their bosses, getting in fights with their sisters, worrying about their kids. His larger project, I think, is to show us the inner life of a woman whom most people perceive as cold and combative ...more
Jill
Jul 23, 2014 rated it really liked it
I’ve always been of two minds of Colm Toibin. On one hand, his prose is meticulously crafted, lovingly rendered, and it’s clear from the very first sentence that the reader is in the hands of a master. On the other hand, there’s something a little detached and reserved about his plotting and characters, keeping me at a respectful distance.

Nora Webster goes further than his past books to draw readers like me in, although the gap still remains. There are no fireworks here: Nora Webster’s beloved h
...more
Rebecca
rated it really liked it
Sep 30, 2014
Sara
rated it really liked it
Sep 30, 2014
Lois
rated it really liked it
Oct 09, 2014
Jean
Oct 16, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
(Audible; Fiona Shaw, narrator) 1972 in small-town Ireland. Narrator is Nora Webster, age 46, recently widowed. Why didn't Nora Webster visit her young sons at her sister's house while she attended to her sick husband in a Dublin hospital? Why did one of her sons develop a stutter during these two months? Why is Norah a loner in her family? Why do her children have a better relationship with their aunts and uncles than with their mother? Why are her sisters afraid of her? Many unknotted threads ...more
Vivienne
rated it it was amazing
Oct 24, 2014
Susan C
rated it really liked it
Oct 28, 2014
Julie
rated it really liked it
Nov 09, 2014
Jim O'sullivan
rated it it was ok
Nov 10, 2014
Cassie
marked it as to-read
Dec 12, 2014
Karen Soanes
I almost gave up on this - at first it seemed a narrative of a widow in grief but it does become more than that. Hang in there, the story picks up at the end.
Amy
Dec 28, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction, foreign
I enjoyed this book and the description of how the wife gets through daily life after her husband has died. I enjoyed how Nora goes through grief and then begins life anew. She is exposed to new friends and hobbies by small events in her daily life. It really is an elegant character study.

(view spoiler)
...more
Vaso
rated it really liked it
Jan 04, 2015
Amy
marked it as to-read
Jan 04, 2015
Sharon
Jan 13, 2015 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I listened to this one on Audible, and it was very well performed. I found Nora to be a character with all the depth that coping with raising family alone can give a character. Most of the novel is devoted to Nora discovering who she is as a single mother with a love of music and a brave stance in the politics of the day.
Janis
rated it really liked it
Mar 29, 2015
Elspeth
rated it liked it
Apr 01, 2015
April
rated it liked it
Apr 12, 2015
Sherry
marked it as to-read
May 07, 2015
Currer
The rating is probably 3.5 for the novel and a solid 5 for Fiona Shaw's beautiful reading of it. I don't think I would have finished the print version, but I stuck with the audio for Shaw's voice and characterizations--and I'm glad I did! The narrative is lugubrious and static, but it has some lovely epiphanic moments, and sharp observations about life in small-town Ireland in the late '60s. Towards the end, you get a really interesting sense of the way everyday life is shaped by the ghostly, th ...more
Susan Tanner
marked it as to-read
May 14, 2015
Kathy
rated it liked it
May 17, 2015
Jill
rated it liked it
Jul 05, 2015
ilana
rated it it was ok
Jul 11, 2015
Sheryl
Jul 29, 2015 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
I think this would have been a much better experience if read. Nora Webster is just to dry to listen to.
Chel
rated it it was amazing
Aug 25, 2015
Stina
rated it did not like it
Sep 05, 2015
Cathy
Sep 11, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
As this stunning book opens Nora is receiving yet another person come to call on her following the death of her husband Maurice. He was a very respected teacher in her small town who died young, leaving his wife Nora, forty, and four children. She’s quite tired of these visits, yet doesn’t know how she’ll go on without Maurice. Though she is deeply grieved, she is also emotionally distant. It seems as though some of her visitors have ulterior motives, and this one is interested in buying Nora’s ...more
shirley
Sep 20, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
My first audiobook! I have a feeling if I had read this on paper, my rating would be 3 stars. But, I adored the experience of having this story read aloud to me, hence the fourth star. Many Nora moments resonated with me as a woman in middle age and as a mother. There were some very appealing turns of phrases and snorts and bursts of laughter.
Martha Divittorio
marked it as to-read
Sep 28, 2015
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2,153 followers
Colm Toibin was born in Enniscorthy, Co. Wexford in 1955. He studied at University College Dublin and lived in Barcelona between 1975 and 1978. Out of his experience in Barcelona be produced two books, the novel ‘The South’ (shortlisted for the Whitbread First Novel Award and winner of the Irish Times/ Aer Lingus First Fiction Award) and ‘Homage to Barcelona’, both published in 1990. When he retur ...more

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