Nora, Nora: A Novel, by Anne River Siddons, is perhaps a piece of fiction not worth wasting time on. Even so, I thoroughly enjoyed it. I gobbled up the dinners and feasted on the scenery. I came to know the characters as though they were living with me, and at the end of the story, I felt just the way I like to feel at the end of a delicious novel: like I had only just begun a journey.
I identified with the pain that Siddons so painstakingly captures in her characters, and I was not really surprised by what happened in the end…or was I? It’s hard to tell, because I was so delighted with it. I’ve been reading so much nonfiction lately, that I think maybe I forgot just what joy there is in reading fiction. I had somehow not remembered the worlds that are created for me, the willing reader; I had neglected to foster the dreams in myself that the fiction of my childhood made me even consider.
Ah, a good novel. Maybe you will pick it up and find it disappointing. In that case, I leave you with a couple of excerpts that just spoke to me.
Nobody’s safe, and nobody’s free. … There’s only somewhere between safe and free, and what people are. The only thing we can ever be is just human, and that ends up breaking our hearts. We all try so hard to be strong, or free, or safe, or whatever it is we think we need most…and in the end all we can ever be is just us. And it’s enough because it has to be. There’s not anything else.
We try to give what little we have to somebody who hasn’t got it, and maybe they try to give us back some of what they have that we haven’t got. That’s what love is. That’s all it is.