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Set in Wexford, Ireland, Colm Tóibín's superb seventh novel introduces the formidable, memorable and deeply moving Nora Webster. Widowed at 40, with four children and not enough money, Nora has lost the love of her life, Maurice, the man who rescued her from the stifling world to which she was born. And now she fears she may be drawn back into it. Wounded, strong-willed, clinging to secrecy in a tiny community where everyone knows your business, Nora is drowning in her own sorrow and blind to the suffering of her young sons, who have lost their father. Yet she has moments of stunning empathy and kindness, and when she begins to sing again, after decades, she finds solace, engagement, a haven - herself.
Customer ReviewsMost Helpful
By Sara on 12-13-15
Contrived & Overreaching
I had high expectations for this book and stuck with it hoping that it would be worth it in the end. To me, it is a sadly strange story. The writing and action are often overwhelmingly vague and yet at the same time minutely precise. Almost like a randomly focused and then unfocused camera lens. A confusing mix.
Part of me wonders about this "personal exploration" of a woman--from the woman's point of view--written by a man. I mean, you can study sea lions and be an absolute expert in the field but in the end you will never actually "be" a sea lion. You will never understand sea lion-ness. I think the same thing goes when it comes to this book. Toibin will never be a woman and doesn't seem to know what women really think and feel beyond assumptions. I know--I know--each woman is different you say, but something was missing with the whole picture. I am not saying that men can't write about women. I am saying on this occasion--from this context--for me it didn't work. And no, I don't think women are like sea lions--it was just an example.
In the end it all felt remote. Very little of the action and interpretation of the action and behavior rings true or sounds plausible. Plus it's very sad and depressing to boot. Listen with caution.
32 of 38 people found this review helpful
By Susan Finch on 11-06-14
Couldn't finish it, I just didn't care
Would you try another book from Colm Toibin and/or Fiona Shaw?
Fiona Shaw was an excellent narrator. The problem was the story. It was boring and depressing and I never felt compelled to care about Nora. I finally just gave up. I gave it three stars only because he narration was good.
Would you ever listen to anything by Colm Toibin again?
I might, some reviews say his other books are much better but then many reviewers loved this book. People praise the excellent writing. I guess I am a reader that is more concerned with the story. Everyone likes something different. This just wasn't for me.
What reaction did this book spark in you? Anger, sadness, disappointment?
8 of 9 people found this review helpful