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The Spirit of Nora a novel by Lyle Scott Lee

Saturday, October 1, 2011

Stretched across a backdrop of bustling New York, romantic Paris, and rural Russia in the early twentieth century, The Spirit of Nora vividly portrays the emergence of a young Minnesota woman into a fiercely independent spirit. Leaving her home on the farm with her childhood friend Ella for nursing training in New York, Nora enters a changing world. After befriending two doctors on the train east, Nora and Ella spend many evenings with Tristan and Soren. But a terrible tragedy pulls Ella from Nora, who eventually travels farther east, searching for redemption for failing her friend.

Nora becomes wrapped up in the permissive lifestyle of French artists, embracing relationships with the lively Cassandra and talented Auguste. While in France, she is confronted with physical temptations and spiritual uncertainty until she learns of the communal setting established on the estate of the Russian novelist Leo Tolstoy. The Spirit of Nora needs further nourishment for her wavering faith, and she continues yet farther east to Yasnaya Polyana to work with Tolstoy's translator. Through the following years Nora learns of hardship, love, war, and the difficulties in finding balance between right and wrong. Ultimately, she must come face to face with the legacy of her lost friend.

Goodreads Summary

One of the best qualities this book has to offer is the connection between the main character and the author.  The reader will easily connect to Nora, sympathizing with her, rooting with her, and wanting to shake her. 

Nora and Ella are best friends.  They decide to take on nursing training and go to New York...where Nora doesn't know what to make of the bustling city.  Tristan and Soren offer a momentary diversion, Nora and Ella go out with the two doctors for a while.  However, in one mysterious scene, Ella disappears, leaving Nora with a sense that she failed her friend.

Nora travels further East, running from what she believes was her mistake.  She ends up in a foreign country with very foreign customs and a different culture.  She attempts to adjust and meet others.  The novel takes off from here.

This book was certainly interesting, the reader learns that the main character is loosely based on the author's great-aunt, making the book even more personal.  The events are fast-paced and easy to follow and the ending is satisfying.  This book is recommended to adult readers.

4 Stars

Barnes and Noble <-find the novel here!