Sometimes I read something and I wonder if I have just really missed the point. Such is the case with Colm Tóibín’s Nora Webster. Nora Webster takes place in Ireland in the late 1960s, a time of social turmoil and ripe for interesting story-telling. It is the same town in which the heroine of his novel Brooklyn was raised but aside from a quick cameo by her mother, it’s not really a sequel by any means. Nora has recently lost her husband Maurice (to what we’re never fully told, but I think it’s a heart issue?), and is raising her two youngest sons alone in the town where everyone knows her grief and feels free to comment on her life.
I don’t really know what to say about this novel. Because that short description I just wrote? It kind of covers it. Nora is a widow, lost and alone and figuring shit out. But there isn’t really a big conflict, change, or any excitement really. It’s like Tóibín just took a chunk out of a person’s life, but someone who doesn’t really do anything. A man dies. His wife grieves and tries to figure out what to do by herself. She sucks at communicating her feelings to people, and she’s not a very loving or warm mother. She likes to sing. The end. I kept toying with the idea of abandoning this one but thought to myself “surely it will get better.” And it did, but in the end I just set the book down, thought “huh, that’s done,” and moved on to another book.
This may be the shortest CBR review I have ever written. Does it count? Have any of you read this one and felt differently? I think the writing is fine and conveys emotions well, I just didn’t feel compelled to care about the main character at all. So, what did I miss?