Nora by Nuala O’Connor: A Giveaway for #readingirelandmonth22

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.

James and Nora, along with their children Lucia and Giorgio in Paris, 1924.

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.

Giveaway Ireland Month Irish Literature

Cathy746books View All →

I am a 40 something book buying addict trying to reduce the backlog one book at a time!

22 Comments Leave a comment

  1. I really enjoyed Miss Emily and one of her novels written under Irish name, and I’m so pleased to see this, it might be just the right introduction to Ulysses or even The Odyssey, two books I’ve long wanted to read but needed some kind of motivation and for it to be the right timing. Mora is a great place to start.

    No need to add me to your giveaway, I spotted this earlier in the week regarding the One Dublin April read so I’ve already ordered a copy.

    Have you read it yet or are you going to join in the April read?

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I’m not always keen on fictionalised versions of real people but this sounds well done – Nora is a fascinating person, and it was quite the life they had! (I won’t enter the giveaway because I’m desperately trying to get the TBR down – haha. But my favourite Irish women writers are Molly Keane, Elizabeth Bowen, Eimear McBride, Lisa McInerney, Ann Enright…)

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Ah! So many great female Irish writers out there but although I’m a big fan of Molly Keane, Ann Enwright, Eimear McBride and yes, Marian Keys, I have to go for Edna O’Brien. She helped me when I was growing-up, not only by her great writing, but her insights gave me the courage I needed to rebel and leave an environment that was suffocating me.


  4. Hi Cathy – so great to see Nora highlighted here. I don’t know if Tana French qualifies, since she is an American/Irish author living in Ireland, but I like her books very much. I also loved Miss Emily by Nuala O’Connor and am happy to see a new one by her!


  5. I’ve been wondering about whether I’d like this or not, because sometimes fictionalised lives stay too slavishly to the research and can be a bit of a plod, but it sounds as if this one works.
    (And I do love anything and everything Joycean!)
    So, yes please, put me in the draw.
    My favourite Irish writer is Edna O’Brien. I think she is just fantastic… I love the courage in her writing and I’m gradually collecting all her novels. (Quite by coincidence, I mentioned her in my last #6Degrees.)


  6. Picking a favourite writer is ridiculously hard. The thing about Irish women writers that I’ve noticed (apart from the quality of their writing) is that they tend to be excellent at interviews, Q&As and readings. I will happily read or listen to an interview with any of them. Anne Enright, Maggie O’Farrell, Emma Donoghue, Sally Rooney, Marian Keyes, Sinèad Gleeson and Edna O’Brien are some that I’ve particularly enjoyed.

    I have to give extra kudos to Marian Keyes for her tweets. I’ve only read one of her novels – rather distractedly, at the height of pandemic anxiety so, to be honest, have already forgotten it. So I’ll have to give her books another go. But her Twitter feed for the last several years has been a bright light when the social mediascape often seemed dark. Her cakes cookbook cheered me as well – in both the reading and the baking of some of the recipes. So today, in gratitude, I’m going with Marian Keyes as my favourite Irish woman writer.

    I love the concept of One Dublin One Book and hope to join in reading Nora from afar.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Without doubt my favourite Irish female author is the indefatigable Sinead Gleeson. Not only for her incredibly beautiful and poignant writing in Constellations and elsewhere, but also for her dedication to promoting Irish female writers both North & South of the border in the many anthologies she has edited.


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