It’s International Women’s Day so I am hosting a special giveaway for Reading Ireland Month of a copy of Nora by Nuala O’Connor, which is currently the One Dublin One Book Choice for 2022.
Shortlisted for a 2021 An Post Irish Book Award, Nora: A Love Story of Nora and James Joyce is Nuala O’Connor’s fifth novel and she recreates Joyce’s home life through the voice of his muse Nora Barnacle. Nora was the inspiration for Molly Bloom in Ulysses and her loyalty and support provided Joyce with the security he needed throughout his writing life.
‘Jim styles me his sleepy-eyed Nora. His squirrel girl from the pages of Ibsen. I am pirate queen and cattle raider. I’m his blessed little blackguard. I am, he says, his auburn marauder. I’m his honourable barnacle goose…. “Nora,” Jim says, “you are story.”’
The novel covers their thirty-seven years together from the day they met in Dublin on June 16 1904 through financial struggles, a move to Zurich and raising children, until Joyce’s death in 1941. As she did with Emily Dickinson and Belle Bilton, Nuala O’Connor brings Nora’s voice to vivid and distinctive life.
“When Nora Barnacle, a twenty-year-old from Galway working as a maid at Finn’s Hotel, meets young James Joyce on a summer’s day in Dublin, she is instantly attracted to him, natural and daring in his company. But she cannot yet imagine the extraordinary life they will share together. All Nora knows is she likes her Jim enough to leave behind family and home, in search of a bigger, more exciting life.
As their family grows, they ricochet from European city to city, making fast friends amongst the greatest artists and writers of their age as well as their wives, and are brought high and low by Jim’s ferocious ambition. But time and time again, Nora is torn between their intense and unwavering desire for each other and the constant anxiety of living hand-to-mouth, often made worse by Jim’s compulsion for company and attention. So, while Jim writes and drinks his way to literary acclaim, Nora provides unflinching support and inspiration, sometimes at the expense of her own happiness, and especially at that of their children, Giorgio and Lucia. Eventually, together, they achieve some longed-for security and stability, but it is hard-won and imperfect to the end.”
To win a copy, simply tell me in the comments who your favourite Irish woman writer, or character (real-life or fictional)is to be entered into the draw. I will choose a winner on Sunday and am happy to ship internationally.
I am a 40 something book buying addict trying to reduce the backlog one book at a time!