Holy Cannoli! This book was not for me! Save your time, save yourselves, and skip this one! Colm Toibin’s book, “Nora Webster” is my all time least favorite book. This author is a very celebrated author. The reviews on this book are tremendously stellar. It made it to the top of numerous charts. My only guess is that his seven previous books are possibly so good that everyone gave him a pass on this one. I will never know, because I will not pick up another of his books. It’s a shame, because I hear that his book “Brooklyn” is fantastic, but I know longer trust any of the reviewers who sing his praise.
Ack! I feel so horrible writing that and what is to follow. I do not like saying anything unkind about anyone’s work. But as a person who listed this on my reading list for Book Club, I feel the need to say stop, wait, you may not want it!
Here is a link to the book in case I have not dissuaded you from reading it. Maybe you will be one of it’s fans, maybe you will just enjoy seeing if you agree or disagree with me .
The summary on the back of this book really sold a riveting story that I was intrigued to read. It’s a character piece on a wife and mother of four, who is morning the passing of her spouse and finding herself.
After finishing the utterly dull book, I thought what am I missing? How can so many people love it. So I jumped on Goodreads to see what readers were saying, no longer trusting just the reviews inside the jacket of the book. Here I still found many people waxing poetic of their love of this book. Others putting down those who didn’t like it. One guy actually said that it was a stellar book unless it “fell into lesser hands”. Ha!
Well, I am not here to smooch any author’s tush! I found my kind on Goodreads. Happily, I saw that I was not alone in my astonished let down. Some of the reviewers trashed the book because of the main character, Nora. They found her appalling, boring, annoying, a bad mother. I agree. But that is not why I didn’t like this book. Some of my favorite books have characters with crap personalities.
It was the writing style! Holy Cannoli, where was it? Those who are enamored with this book said that it was his skillful way of telling a story without telling it. Are you kidding me. I am all for subtle nuance but this is not that. Jennifer Egan, of the New York Times Book Review, said this ” I found myself unnerved and then exhilarated by Toibin’s resistance to an artificially dramatic arc. The epiphanies in Nora Webster accrue slyly, in offhand moments…The absence of melodrama brings these discoveries rushing into relief. ” Classic example of reviewers liking to read their own review!
I agree with her, he had a “resistance to an artificially dramatic arc”. That is because the story had zero arc.
I agree with her, there was an “absence of melodrama” because there was no drama. Several times the book had story lines begin. They lasted for a few lines or a paragraph, and then poof they were gone. This book finally caught my interest on page 354 (out of 373 pages) and lost my interest again on page 356.
The premise had such possibility. It does not need melodrama, it does not need an arc that is not realistic. However, this book was three years in the life of an utterly dull woman and it was told in an utterly dull way.
I award it one book mark.
Rated for a general audience.