The Nora that leaps off these pages is at once muse, temptress, earth mother and warrior queen all rolled into one glorious package ... in granting first-person narrative rights to Nora, O’Connor positions her protagonist centre-stage to charm readers with her winning blend of native pragmatism and vernacular wit ... Nora’s voice never grates or wavers throughout this warm, sensuous and thoroughly convincing biographical novel.
Joycean Dublin is well-trodden ground, not least by Edna O’Brien, but O’Connor keeps the story fresh with the vivid language of her fictionalised biography. A chambermaid from Galway, Nora’s voice is frank and earthy ... O’Connor deftly depicts the strength of Nora’s attachment to an adoring but exasperatingly unreliable man ... Whether Nora directly influenced Joyce’s writing, as some scholars have argued, or was more of a muse, O’Connor’s fleshed-out 'little f**kbird' is no adjunct.
Nora Barnacle, lifelong partner to James Joyce and model for Molly Bloom in Ulysses, moves center stage in a story of loyal love tested over years of poverty and effort. Young Nora, a bold, freethinking, uneducated girl from a poor Galway background, narrates this biographical saga in evocative Irish tones, offering a more-or-less conventional account of the role of the supportive wife to a genius ... 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 ... She emerges as his rock, the prose to his poetry. O’Connor’s lengthy, indulgent portrait of a marriage forefronts the robust, devoted woman who kept the show on the road.