Home News New Island Announce Acquisition of Nuala O’Connor’s ‘NORA’

New Island Announce Acquisition of Nuala O’Connor’s ‘NORA’

New Island Books today announced the acquisition of the Irish rights to Nuala O’Connor’s exceptional new novel NORA.

Jim styles me his sleepy-eyed Nora. His squirrel girl from the pages of Ibsen. I am pirate queen and cattle raider. I’m his blessed little blackguard. I am, he says, his auburn marauder. I’m his honourable barnacle goose…. ‘Nora,’ Jim says, ‘you are story.’


A love story of Nora Barnacle and James Joyce

Nuala O’Connor  | pbk €16.95 | 400pp | 9781848407893 | April 2021


‘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 

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 amongst the greatest artists and writers of their age as well as their wives, 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 compulsion for company and attention. So, 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 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 has conjured the definitive portrait of this strong, passionate and loyal Irishwoman. Nora is a tour de force, an earthy and authentic love letter to Irish literature’s greatest muse.

Author Nuala O’Connor says: ‘NORA, for me, is an homage to Nora Barnacle as individual, woman, caretaker and mother, firstly, and, secondly, to Joyce as life-partner, father and genius writer. I try to look with empathy at this extraordinary couple who age and grow together, while negotiating the ordinary travails of life that so many of us deal with. Those people may be the great James Joyce and the inimitable Nora Barnacle but, in 1904, they were just two young people, setting out together to who knew what, who knew where. NORA, I hope, opens out the intimate, intriguing detail of the strange and lovely journey they took side by side.’

Aoife K. Walsh, commissioning editor at New Island says: ‘New Island Books is supremely happy to be publishing NORA by Nuala O’Connor in Ireland next year, coinciding with the 70th anniversary of Nora Barnacle’s death. Nuala is an exceptional writer of precision and empathy, who holds the hand of her dear Gooseen as well as her enthralled reader throughout this big-hearted novel. Amidst the excitement and mayhem of the Joyce household as they barrel around 20th-century Europe, NORA is at its heart a loving portrait of a strong, kind, loyal and passionate Irishwoman, in whose head and heart we are sure readers will have a smashing good time.

The deal with New Island was concluded by Gráinne Fox of Fletcher and Company, who also sold North American rights to Sarah Stein at HarperCollins for publication in January 2021 and German rights to Suhrkamp, Insel imprint.

NORA will be published by New Island Books in Ireland in April 2021 and is available to pre-order from www.newisland.ie/fiction/nora

For further information contact:
Caoimhe Fox  caoimhe.fox@newisland.ie / +353 1 278 4225 Ext 004.

Publicity enquiries contact:
Peter O’Connell peter@peteroconnellmedia.com