Cover image for Nora, Nora : a novel
Title:
Nora, Nora : a novel
Author:
Siddons, Anne Rivers.
Personal Author:
Edition:
[Large print edition].
Publication Information:
New York : HarperLargePrint, [2000]

©2000
Physical Description:
377 pages (large print) ; 24 cm
Language:
English
Geographic Term:
ISBN:
9780060197186
Format :
Book

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Summary

Summary

"A treat to be savored."

-- Houston Chronicle

A classic from New York Times bestselling author Anne Rivers Siddons, Nora, Nora tells the story of free-thinking Cousin Nora Findlay who turns tiny Lytton,Georgia, on its ear in the summer of 1961. Pat Conroy ( The Prince of Tides ) says the author of Low Country, UpIsland,Peachtree Street, and King's Oak "ranks among the best of us," and the Atlanta Journal-Constitution praises Nora, Nora as "Anne Rivers Siddons writing at the top of her form. This lively, sparkling coming-of-age novel is superbly written and wholly engaging."


Author Notes

Novelist Anne Rivers Siddons was born in Fairburn, Georgia in 1936. She studied at Auburn University in Alabama and Oglethorpe University in Atlanta.

Siddons was an editor and columnist for the Auburn Plainsman, senior editor for Atlanta magazine and worked in advertising.

Her treatment of the South in her novels often earns comparisons to Margaret Mitchell. One of her books, Peachtree Road, won her Georgia author of the year honors (1988). Her novels include: Sweetwater Creek, Off Season and Burnt Mountain. In 2014 her title, The Girls of August, made The New York Times Best Seller List.

(Bowker Author Biography)


Reviews 3

Booklist Review

Peyton McKenzie is a young girl on the brink of womanhood who lives in a small town near Atlanta in the 1960s. Peyton's great joy is her membership in the Loser's Club. The other members are Boot, the grandson of the black cook who works for Peyton's father, and Ernie, an adult who tends to his invalid mother and doesn't quite fit into the adult world. The members meet and trade humiliating experiences. But Peyton's contributions ebb when her cousin Nora comes to stay, transforming her and her family. Nora brings fresh air into a household weighted by death, regret, and sorrow. For instance, Peyton has always felt responsible for her mother's death, as she died giving birth to Peyton. Nora, with her red hair, pink Thunderbird, and exotic experiences living in Miami and Cuba, dispels Peyton's guilt, uncovers the girl's writing talent, and revitalizes Peyton's taciturn father. But Nora also provokes the wrath of Peyton's meddlesome Aunt Augusta and the entire town of Lytton when she becomes involved in racial politics. In still another subplot, Nora raises the suspicions of Peyton's grandmother, Agnes, a gifted spiritualist. Siddon teases with a supernatural angle that doesn't pan out, but this is a solid novel about growing up, daring to love, and weathering life's inevitable disappointments. --Vanessa Bush


Publisher's Weekly Review

Siddons pulls off another smoothly written novel with ingratiating ease, despite an unpromising beginning. Readers may fear they're in the realm of the hackneyed reflections of To Kill a Mockingbird and A Member of the Wedding when they're introduced to 12-year-old, "thin, frail, queer and nervous" Peyton McKenzie. In the seventh grade in Lytton, Ga., Peyton has "no friends of her own age and gender," and spends her free time in the parsonage tool shed with 34-year-old Ernie Longworth, eccentric, erudite sexton and grave keeper of the Methodist church. The third member of their Losers Club is eight-year-old Boot, the handicapped grandson of Chloe, the McKenzies' black housekeeper. Peyton considers herself the consummate "loser" because her mother died the day after she was born, and her cool, distant father seems to hold Peyton responsible. When a beautiful red-haired stranger blows into town in a Thunderbird coup‚, this too seems tritely familiar. Outspoken Nora Findlay, a distant cousin who smokes, drinks and doesn't wear a bra, is clearly out to shock the morally conservative community. Though Siddons doesn't deliver any thematic surprises in this well-worn genre, she does offer a neatly competent and engrossing story that captures the reader's sympathies despite its quality of d‚j… vu, as she conjures up the social and racial attitudes of a small Southern town in the 1960s. Nora enthralls an initially reluctant Peyton, working magic on the girl's appearance, self-confidence, intellectual curiosity and moral vision, even as she scandalizes everyone else in town. But daredevil Nora is secretly vulnerable, as Peyton learns when her cousin confesses the heavy emotional burden she carries. Eventually, both Nora and Peyton experience the anguish of betrayal. In addition to her impeccable re-creation of Southern speech and atmosphere, Siddons captures the angst of adolescence with practiced skill, and she handles the rising drama of her plot so smoothly that the book has all the marks of bestsellerdom. Agent, Jennifer Rudolph Walsh at the Writers Shop. 250,000 first printing; author tour. (July) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved


Library Journal Review

When Peyton learns that her cousin Nora is coming to stay with her and her father for a time, Peyton resolves to find a way to avoid actually meeting this unwelcome stranger. But Nora, flamboyant and outspoken, has the entire town of Lytton, GA, in a flurry before she has a chance to park her pink convertible, and Peyton and her father find themselves suddenly living a life filled with more love, more fun, and more joy. Before long, though, everything Nora does seems to outrage the residents of this small, early 1960s town. An excessive abridgment at the beginning of this production leaves the listener wondering about Peyton's motives. The complete version [from HarperAudio and Recorded Books, among others] fills in the gaps, revealing that Peyton's fear of being unloved is only exceeded by her fear of growing up. Debra Monk's performance is unobtrusive and smooth, her gentle Southern accent adding atmosphere without being overpowering. This book is enjoying a great deal of popularity and is well worth acquiring; however, this reviewer would recommend one of the unabridged programs.DAdrienne Furness, Genesee Community Coll., Batavia, NY (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.


Excerpts

Excerpts

Nora, Nora A Novel Chapter One Peyton McKenzie changed her name when she was six years old, on the first day of her first year in elementary school. For all her short life she had been called Prilla or sometimes Priscilla, her first name, the latter usually when she was In Trouble, but that stopped with rocklike finality when the first scabby classmate began to chant, "Prilla, Prilla, mother-killer." By the time the entire first grade in the Lytton Grammar School had taken up the refrain, Peyton McKenzie had been born, and there was no chance at all that she would return to the womb. "It's a man's name, for heaven's sake, Priscilla," her Aunt Augusta said in exasperation for the fourth or fifth time, after Peyton's father had given up on her. "What's wrong with 'Priscilla'? It's a lovely name. Generations of your mama's family have named their daughters Priscilla. I believe the first was Priscilla Barnwell, who came over to Virginia well before the American Revolution. You should be proud." "Peyton is my middle name," Peyton muttered. "It's as much mine as Priscilla." Both she and Augusta McKenzie knew there would be no changing of Peyton's mind, but Augusta saw it as her duty as the dominant woman in Peyton's life to do battle with the granite streak of willfulness in her niece. On the death of Peyton's mother at her birth, Frazier McKenzie had tacitly placed the day-to-day shaping and pruning of his daughter in his sister-in-law's hands. By the time of Peyton's first great rebellion, aunt and niece were old and experienced adversaries. Each knew the other's strengths and vulnerabilities. Augusta McKenzie knew full well she wasn't going to win this one. But she would never know why, because Peyton never told anyone about the cold, whining little chant at school that morning, not until much later, and none of the other children would tell, either. Her beleaguered teacher soon forgot about the name change entirely. She was the first in a long procession of teachers to forget about Peyton McKenzie for long stretches of time. Only Peyton remembered, each day of her life and deep in her smallest cell, that she had, indeed, killed her mother. If her father never so much as hinted to her that he held her undistinguished being responsible for the extinguishing of the radiant flame her mother had been, Peyton put it down to Frazier McKenzie's natural reticence. He had been, all her life, as politely remote as a benign godparent. He was so with everyone, except Peyton's older brother, Buddy. When Buddy died in an accident in his air-force trainer, when Peyton was five, Frazier McKenzie closed up shop on his laughter, anger, small foolishnesses, and large passions. Now, at twelve, Peyton could remember no other father than the cooled and static one she had. Her father seemed to remember her only intermittently. She told the Losers Club about the name change on a February day when it seemed as if earth and air and sky were all made of the same sodden gray cloth. It happens sometimes in the Deep South when winter can no longer muster an honest cold but will not admit the warm tides of spring lapping at the gates. It is a climatic sulk, not a great tantrum, and like any proper sulk it can last for days and even weeks, exhausting spirits and fraying nerves and sucking open hearts with its sluggish tongue. Ernie had been so petulant that Boot had told him to shut up if he didn't have anything to add to the day's litanies of inanities and abasement. Even Boot seemed more dutiful than enthusiastic over his contribution to the club's itinerary, a lusterless account of wiping out the Canaday children's hopscotch grid with his orthotic boot. "Well, if I couldn't do better than that, I just wouldn't say anything," Ernie sniffed, affronted. Ernie was plagued this day by demons. His small shed was so humid that the lone window was sweated over and the pages of his copy of The Inferno, laid casually with its title up on his bookcase, were glued together. His overalls stuck to him, and his thinning, spindrift hair frizzed with the damp, and he was starting a sinus infection. He had also forgotten to return his mother's library books. "You ain't said anything," Boot pointed out. "And I jes' as soon you didn't. You as mean as an old settin' hen today. Peyton gon' have to come up with something really fine to make up for you." Two pairs of cool eyes turned toward her. Peyton, who had planned to recount the deliberate serving to her of the last helping of tepid turnip greens in the school lunch line while a steaming pot of spaghetti and meat sauce awaited those behind her, swiftly changed her mind. "I killed my mother," she said, her heart beating hard with the sheer daring of it, and the first opening of the pit of that old pain. The others were silent, looking at her. She looked back, feeling for an instant only the heedless joy of a great coup. "You ain't, neither," Boot said finally. "You flatter yourself," Ernie said. But they knew they were bested by a long shot. "I did, too," Peyton said. "She died not a day after I was born. She bled to death. Everybody knows that. I've always known it." "Then why didn't you say?" Boot asked. He was having a hard time relinquishing his sultancy of humiliation. "You'd have only said I was showing off. Ernie, you did say it. And not only did I kill her, but when I was in first grade I changed my name to Peyton because the kids were singing a song about 'Prilla, Prilla, mother-killer,' and I made it stick, too . . . " Nora, Nora A Novel . Copyright © by Anne Rivers Siddons. Reprinted by permission of HarperCollins Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved. Available now wherever books are sold. Excerpted from Nora, Nora by Anne Rivers Siddons All rights reserved by the original copyright owners. Excerpts are provided for display purposes only and may not be reproduced, reprinted or distributed without the written permission of the publisher.