Audiobook Review: Nora Webster

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Penny warned me.  My fellow Hoarder told me about Nora.  She admitted that Nora Webster was a quiet book, and noted that very little happened.  She admitted that her mind might have wandered now and then while she was listening.  She told me that Nora wasn’t her favorite.  Penny’s terrific review of Nora Webster can be found here.

Having said that, I still grabbed the audiobook, and popped it in.  I did this because I love the prose of Colm Tóibín.

In the future, I will heed the words of my fellow Hoarders.  And because Penny already penned a lovely review, this will be short and sweet.  Truthfully, at first, I wasn’t going to write a review for Nora.  But having completed this story today, I feel compelled to post one.  Let’s call it Elizabeth’s Literary Therapy.


I wasn’t kidding when I said that I love this author’s writing.  I do.  I was crazy about Brooklyn.  There’s no question that his prose is beautiful, and his writing is lovely in Nora Webster as well.  But…. I can’t shake the fact that Colm Tóibín created a character so unlikable that I was begging for this novel to end.

What I could not wrap my head around this time was the fact that Nora Webster was an infuriating, narcissistic woman who never redeemed herself.  This glum fact made me feel cheated for sticking with the story.  But I couldn’t let it go.  I was waiting for her to develop a conscience.  Hell – I would have been satiated if Nora developing the personality of a broom handle.  But, no.  Nora remained firmly planted on her high horse.  She was never grateful.  She was never humble.  At first, I thought her rude and self-centered behavior was simply kick-started by the death of her husband, but then it came to light that she was also a miserable youth.  Well, isn’t that nice.  And as I became increasingly desperate for someone, ANYONE to put this wretched, pining woman in her place, the other people of this book continued to have impossible patience with her. They were saints.  Every one of them deserved an award.

I can’t recall the last time I yelled at an audiobook.  I yelled at it.  I did.  And I think that part of my Literary Therapy is to admit this.  At one point, I actually hollered “KNOCK IT OFF, NORA!  STOP PICKING OUT DRAB CURTAINS AND PAY ATTENTION TO YOUR KIDS!”   In hindsight, I should have had my windows up when I did that.  I apologize to the unsuspecting driver at that red light.

Nora Webster gave others little thought, and even went so far as to shrug off the neglect that she inflicted on her two sons.  I can’t tell you how pleased I am that the story is complete, and she’s finally gone.  I think the last time I felt this kind of revulsion for a character, I was reading Stephen King’s It.  Will I read Colm Tóibín again?  Of course I will.  But I guess I can’t love everything that he creates.

Before I sign off, I need to give an enormous amount of credit to Fiona Shaw, who was remarkable with her narration of this audiobook.  Even though the story was like nails on a chalkboard, Fiona’s talent managed to burst through.  5 enthusiastic stars for Fiona Shaw!

2 stars for Nora Webster.

Literary Hoarders Elizabeth