From Harper Perennial, NORA publishes on January 5, 2021.
Dublin, 1904. Nora Joseph Barnacle is a twenty-year-old from Galway working as a maid at Finn’s Hotel. She enjoys the liveliness of her adopted city and on June 16—Bloomsday—her life is changed when she meets Dubliner James Joyce, a fateful encounter that turns into a lifelong love. Despite his hesitation to marry, Nora follows Joyce in pursuit of a life beyond Ireland, and they surround themselves with a buoyant group of friends that grows to include Samuel Beckett, Peggy Guggenheim, and Sylvia Beach.
But as their life unfolds, Nora finds herself in conflict between their intense desire for each other and the constant anxiety of living in poverty throughout Europe. She desperately wants literary success for Jim, believing in his singular gift and knowing that he thrives on being the toast of the town, and it eventually provides her with a security long lacking in her life and his work. So even when Jim writes, drinks, and gambles his way to literary acclaim, Nora provides unflinching support and inspiration, but at a cost to her own happiness and that of their children.
With gorgeous and emotionally resonant prose, Nora is a heartfelt portrayal of love, ambition, and the quiet power of an ordinary woman who was, in fact, extraordinary.
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Buzz for NORA
“[A] poignant, comprehensive portrait of Nora Barnacle as a young woman, mother, and literary inspiration for the Molly Bloom character in Ulysses. . . . Narrated in Nora’s robust voice and carried by details saturated in filth . . . . O’Connor’s admirable accomplishment adds to the abundant Joyceana with a moving examination of an unforgettable family.” (Publishers Weekly)
“This is a woman’s story of craving female friendship, tending children, and supporting a wayward wanderer while always loving—and being loved by—him.” (Kirkus Reviews)
“A lively and loving paean to the indomitable Nora Barnacle.” (Edna O’Brien)
“An exceptional novel by one of the most brilliant contemporary Irish writers, this is a story of love in all its many seasons, from ardent sexuality to companionable tenderness, through strength, challenge, and courage. Nuala O’Connor has brought to vivid life a woman about whom every literature lover has surely wondered and has done so with immense skill and daring.” (Joseph O’Connor, author of Star of the Sea and Shadowplay)
About the Author
Nuala O’Connor was born in Dublin, Ireland, in 1970. A graduate of Trinity College Dublin, she is a novelist and short story writer, and lives in County Galway with her husband and three children. Nuala has won many prizes for her short fiction including the Short Story Prize in the UK and Ireland’s Francis MacManus Award. She is editor at flash e-zine Splonk.