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Nora Webster by Colm Toibin
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Nora Webster

Nora Webster

A Novel

  • reading group guide
  • bestseller
From one of contemporary literature’s bestselling, critically acclaimed and beloved authors, the magnificent, instant New York Times bestselling novel set in Ireland, about a fiercely compelling young widow and mother of four, navigating grief and fear, struggling for hope.

Set in Wexford, Ireland, Colm Tóibín’s superb seventh novel introduces the formidable, memorable and deeply moving Nora Webster. Widowed at forty, 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.

Nora Webster is a masterpiece in character study by a writer at the zenith of his career, “beautiful and daring” (The New York Times Book Review) and able to “sneak up on readers and capture their imaginations” (USA TODAY). In Nora Webster, Tóibín has created a character as iconic, engaging and memorable as Madame Bovary or Hedda Gabler.
  • Scribner | 
  • 384 pages | 
  • ISBN 9781439138335 | 
  • October 2014
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Reading Group Guide

This reading group guide for Nora Webster includes an introduction, discussion questions, and ideas for enhancing your book club. The suggested questions are intended to help your reading group find new and interesting angles and topics for your discussion. We hope that these ideas will enrich your conversation and increase your enjoyment of the book.


Introduction

Set in Wexford, Ireland, Colm Tóibín’s superb eighth novel introduces the formidable, memorable, and moving Nora Webster. Widowed at forty, 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, iron-willed, clinging to privacy in a tiny community where everyone knows everyone else’s business, Nora is drowning in her sorrow and blind to the suffering of her young sons. Even so, Nora finds moments of stunning empathy and kindness, and when she begins to sing again, after decades, she finds solace, engagement, and a haven.

Topics & Questions for Discussion

1. The novel opens with Nora discussing her intrusive visitors with her neighbor Tom O’Connor (p. 1). How does this set the tone for Nora Webster? What is your first impression of Nora?

2. What motivates Nora to sell the house in Cush? Is she just taking advantage of Jack Lacey’s off see more

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About the Author

Colm Toibin
© Phoebe Ling

Colm Toibin

Colm Tóibín is the author of seven novels, including The Blackwater Lightship;The Master, winner of the Los Angeles Times Book Prize; Brooklyn, winner of the Costa Book Award; and The Testament of Mary, as well as two story collections. Twice shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize, Tóibín lives in Dublin and New York.

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