Cover image for Nora : the real life of Molly Bloom
Nora : the real life of Molly Bloom
Maddox, Brenda.
Personal Author:
Publication Information:
Boston : Houghton Mifflin, 1988.
Physical Description:
xx, 472 pages ; 24 cm
General Note:
Includes index.
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
PR6019.O9 Z7184 1988 Adult Non-Fiction Non-Fiction Area
PR6019.O9 Z7184 1988 Adult Non-Fiction Central Closed Stacks
PR6019.O9 Z7184 1988 Adult Non-Fiction Central Closed Stacks-Non circulating

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Reviews 4

Booklist Review

If you thought Joyce's Ulysses was ribald, wait till you read this account of the Irish novelist's relationship with Nora Barnacle, the inspiration for one of the writer's most memorable characters, Molly Bloom. A literary sensation. [BKL Je 1 88]

Publisher's Weekly Review

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) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Library Journal Review

Nora Joyce has long been seen as a shrew who was a poor cook, basically illiterate, and an unlikely helpmate for the greatest novelist of the 20th century. Maddox presents a different Noraperfectly ordinary, in the Joycean sense of the word. A caring, devoted wife, with a sharp tongue, fine wit, and strong sense of survival, Nora not only made Joyce a man, but also, at least in part, the author he was. Nora was the model for many of Joyce's heroines, from Lily in ``The Dead'' to Molly of Ulysses and Anna Livia Plurabelle of Finnegans Wake. A carefully written, sensitive study that offers many new insights on the Joyces' family life. Essential for Joyceans. Donald Kaczvinsky, Pennsylvania State Univ., University Park (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Choice Review

Richard Ellmann, the author of the monumental and authoritative biography James Joyce (CH, Jan '83), once believed that there was not enough material available for a biography of Nora Barnacle, the woman who married Joyce after living with him for 27 years. Nevertheless, Maddox managed to unearth an impressive body of information about Nora: in Joyce's unpublished letters, in verbal and written memoirs of many people who knew the Joyces intimately, and in public documents. Nora, the first full-length biography, is the product of that research. It portrays Nora not only as the stabilizing influence on a man given to erratic behavior, but as a principal source for his fictional women, both their characters and their language, and for his worldview. Even though hardly an illiterate country girl, as she has sometimes been portrayed, Nora professed little understanding of Joyce's fiction. Still, she knew Joyce very well and articulated in life the messages uttered by Molly Bloom and Anna Livia Plurabelle. Although the tone of Maddox's book is appreciative and even loving, the work is marked by meticulous and thorough scholarship and is well annotated and indexed. Graduate and upper-division undergraduate levels. -P. D. O'Connor, Aquinas College