Nora: The Real Life of Molly Bloom

Brenda Maddox, Author Houghton Mifflin Harcourt (HMH) $24.95 (472p) ISBN 978-0-395-36510-6
Not only is this a highly engaging Joyce family biographybrightly written, scrupulously researched and full of intimate, little-known Joyceanait also gives an important thrust to a scholarly opinion now gathering force: that far from being an insignificant factor in her husband's work, Nora was the inspiration for Ulysses's Molly Bloom, Finnegans Wake's Anna Livia Plurabelle and principal females in all his other writings. Though she was semiliterate and never read Ulysses, Galway-bred Nora was intelligent, humorous and strong; and, for the exiled Joyce, she was Ireland. This account of how she stood by her hard-drinking, thriftless ``genius'' through years of poverty, physical tribulations and endless nomadism is deeply touching. Others figure prominently in the storymost notably Joyce's brother Stanislaus, benefactor Harriet Weaver, his first publisher Sylvia Beach and the Joyce's two children, Lucia, who went mad, and Giorgio whose career as a singer was disastrousyet the figure who shines through in the freshest, strongest light is Nora. The reader may well agree that Joyce could not have written any of his books without her. Maddox's previous books include Who's Afraid of Elizabeth Taylor and Married and Gay. Illustrations. (June)
Reviewed on: 06/03/1988
Release date: 06/01/1988
Paperback - 512 pages - 978-0-618-05700-9
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