Rural Ireland’s recent past is the setting for this novel about a 40-year-old mother of four, Nora Webster, who struggles to adjust emotionally after a fatal illness takes the life of her husband of 20 years. Burdened by straitened finances, distracted by grief and by turns worried about or detached from her children, she is weighed down by the dullness of her days without her husband. Nora’s circumstances are not entirely hopeless though as she is capable, independent-minded and supported by well-meaning family and acquaintances. Her pessimism about the future begins to recede as she permits herself to take pleasure in small moments of happiness. A chance encounter with a local voice teacher leads to a new focus on music as a means to recovery as she crafts a new life on her own.
“Fascinating… Revelatory… More thoughtful than Emma Bovary and less self-destructive, in the end far and away a better parent than the doomed Anna Karenina for all the latter’s dramatic posturing, Nora Webster is easily as memorable as either—and far more believable. To say more would spoil a masterful— and unforgettable—novel.” (Betsy Burton NPR)
“The Ireland of four decades ago is beautifully evoked… Completely absorbing [and] remarkably heart-affecting.” (Booklist (starred review))