Tuesday, 28 January 2014

Norah by Cynthia G Neale

My Thoughts

I have to start by saying that this book and the author has great potential. For the most part the writing is sound and the flow of description is both easy and real.

The Pros: A great Heroine, someone both timid and fearless... and a little bit fickle, but always a woman! Norah is not afraid to venture beyond the norm,  e.g. she’s opens a dress shop by taking advantage of the various charitable ladies who try to help the painted ladies. Her scheme is diabolical, and could hardly be considered noble, but it is her first step in getting ahead

The Cons: The story takes a while to really get going. A lot happens, it’s not like it’s boring, but there is so much going on that I really felt it could have been streamlined, to get the pacing moving, at a much more page turning speed. 

My Rating


I obtained an ARC with a view to providing an honest review. The thoughts expressed above, are entirely my own. I don’t really like the concept of rating novels as they are subjective and subject to change. A five star book today, may be re-evaluated when compared to future novels.

Norah: The Making of an Irish-American Woman in 19th-Century New York by Cynthia Neale

Once she was a child of hunger, but now Norah McCabe is a woman with courage, passion, and reckless dreams. Her story is one of survival, intrigue, and love. This Irish immigrant woman cannot be narrowly defined! She dons Paris fashion and opens a used-clothing store, is attacked by a vicious police commissioner, joins a movement to free Ireland, and attends a National Women's Rights Convention. And love comes to her slowly one night on a dark street, ensnared by the great Mr. Murray, essayist and gang leader extraordinaire. Norah is the story of a woman who confronts prejudice, violence, and greed in a city that mystifies and helps to mold her into becoming an Irish-American woman.

Author Bio of Cynthia Neale:

Cynthia Neale is an American with Irish ancestry and a native of the Finger Lakes region in New York. She now resides in Hampstead, New Hampshire. She has long possessed a deep interest in the tragedies and triumphs of the Irish during the Potato Famine or “The Great Hunger.” She is a graduate of Vermont College in Montpelier, VT, with a B.A. degree in Literature and Creative Writing. Norah is her first historical novel for adult readers. She is also the author of two young adult novels, The Irish Dresser, A Story of Hope during The Great Hunger (An Gorta Mor, 1845-1850) and Hope in New York City, The Continuing Story of The Irish Dresser. Her forthcoming book, Pavlova in a Hat Box, is a collection of essays and dessert recipes. She is currently researching and writing a sequel to Norah, as well as a novel about Queen Catharine, a Native American of New York whose village was destroyed by General John Sullivan in 1779.


  1. Good to read about heroines who can be "diabolical" and still a heroine. Life, and getting ahead as an impoverished immigrant, is a complex process. Your review gets at that subtlety.

  2. Thank you Judith, I was intrigued by this concept - It's rare for a woman to be portrayed this way and still be the heroine.