Thomas Marks

Getting On

Nora Webster

By

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It seems apt that Colm Tóibín should have written a novel with an eponymous heroine. Such novels often unfasten their central characters from the worlds they inhabit (think of Clarissa or Anna Karenina), establishing a kind of literary isolation that belies social or familial ties. Tóibín has always excelled in writing about this type of loneliness: The Master, his fictional portrayal of Henry James, set the great novelist’s emotional restraint against his imaginative liberty; the heroine of Brooklyn, Eilis Lacey, was characterised by a strange emotional detachment that persisted through her personal relationships and intimacies.

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