*One Dublin One Book choice for 2022*
*Shortlisted for an Irish Book Award 2021*
WhenÂ Nora Barnacle,Â a twenty-year-old from GalwayÂ working as a maid at Finn’s Hotel, meets young JamesÂ Joyce on a summer’s day inÂ Dublin,Â she is instantly attracted to him, natural and daring inÂ his company.Â But she cannot yetÂ imagine the extraordinary life they will share together. All Nora knows is she likesÂ herÂ JimÂ enough to leave behindÂ family and home, in search of a bigger,Â more excitingÂ life.
As their family grows, they ricochet fromÂ EuropeanÂ city to city, making fast friends amongst theÂ greatestÂ artists and writers of their ageÂ as well as their wives, and are brought high and low by Jim’sÂ ferocious ambition.Â ButÂ time and time again,Â NoraÂ isÂ tornÂ between their intenseÂ and unwaveringÂ desire for each other and the constant anxiety of livingÂ hand-to-mouth, often made worse byÂ Jim’sÂ compulsionÂ for company andÂ attention.Â So, whileÂ Jim writesÂ and drinks his way to literary acclaim, Nora provides unflinching support andÂ inspiration, sometimes at the expense ofÂ her own happiness, andÂ especially atÂ that of their children,Â GiorgioÂ and Lucia. Eventually, together, they achieveÂ some longed-forÂ security andÂ stability,Â butÂ it is hard-wonÂ and imperfectÂ to the end.
InÂ sensuous,Â resonant prose,Â Nuala O’Connor hasÂ conjuredÂ the definitiveÂ portraitÂ ofÂ this strong,Â passionateÂ andÂ loyal Irishwoman.Â NoraÂ is a tour de force, an earthy and authentic love letter toÂ Irish literature’s greatest muse.