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The City Of Invention

The book reviews of UK children's author, Brian Keaney

A Portrait Of An Individual And A Community

Nora Webster - Colm Tóibín

Set during the late nineteen sixties and early seventies in small-town Ireland, Nora Webster is the story of a middle aged woman struggling to deal with the impact of the death of her husband and to remake her life as an independent person. Her transformation takes place against a backdrop of sympathy, curiosity and prurience from her friends, neighbours and family whose assumptions and expectations only add to her difficulties.

There's a remarkable authenticity to Tóibín's writing and this depiction of Ireland in the second half of the twentieth century – claustrophobic, parochial, inward-looking, shocked by the civil-rights struggles in the North and confused by political corruption – feels utterly convincing. It's a compelling and moving portrait of an individual and of a community by one of Ireland's greatest living writers.