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 among the greatest artists and writers of their age, 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 need for company and attention. Thus, 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 own children, Giorgio and Lucia. Eventually, together, they achieve some longed-for security and stability, but it is hard-won and imperfect to the end.
In sensuous, resonant prose, Nuala O'Connor conjures the definitive portrait of this strong, passionate and loyal Irishwoman. On the centenary of the publication of Joyce's own masterpiece, Nora is another tour de force, an intimate and authentic love letter to Irish literature's greatest muse.
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Date of Publication: 11/02/2022