Colm Toibin

Do not expect sensation and excitement with Colm Toibin. His novels develop slowly and deal with the daily life of everyday normal people. Nora Webster is one of those people who could live next door. She is a widow who has to take care of four children, a somewhat aloof mother, almost afraid to show warmth or interest in her children’s school, hobby or daily life. Trying to raise those children in the 1950-60’s she was I guess inspired mostly by doctor Spock. Uncles and aunt do get through to the children, probably because they try to substitute for the children’s father and have real conversations with them. Changes in society become visible slowly: the two daughters who study in Dublin introduce new-fangled ways, the television not only shows astronauts walking on the moon but also the violent protests in Derry. Nora’s job also causes changes. She has to work to make ends meet, through her job we see Nora as an intelligent woman who is not afraid to speak her mind. Nora changes from a helpless widow into an opinionated woman with a growing social network who is highly appreciated at work. Remarks from family and friends throughout the novel show that Nora never was an easy person. Nora was and will probably always remain this private person who finds it difficult to make friends and who makes it quite clear when she does not like a person. Her sisters still fear her remarks on their personal lives. Not the type of woman you fall for immediately. Her sadness for her husband, worrying about her children, her hesitation to embrace a new life, they make that you do respect and appreciate her. To love her you have to work harder. Toibin has created a beautiful picture of a distant woman in a difficult time of her life and has casually added the way Ireland is changing. Not emphatic using grand gestures but small and demure, befitting a woman like Nora.

Nora

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About booksandliliane

I am an avid reader and love to share my love for literature. I have my own opinion on books that have been shortlisted, laureated by critics or are pushed on us by bookstores. I will try and explain why I like or do not like a book. Hopefully influencing you in your choice of books to read.
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One Response to Colm Toibin

  1. BookerTalk says:

    This is such a wonderful novel, as you say its a quiet but effective study of character

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