What I read: The Curious Kidnapping of Nora W by Cate Green

The Curious Kidnapping of Nora W by Cate Green is a first novel that narrates the story of Nora Wojnaswki, a Holocaust survivor who is about to become the oldest person in the world at the age of 122. However, Nora is not keen on the festivities that her family has arranged for her.

“I don’t want a party. I don’t want a fuss. I don’t want a cake with candles that will set off the fire alarm. I don’t want a Rabbi to bless me. I don’t want a plaque with my name on it. I don’t want a Guinness World Record certificate. I don’t want any of it.”

She has a mystery from her past that she wants to revisit before she passes away. With the assistance of Arifa, a Syrian refugee who works as a caregiver at her nursing home, Nora flees to East London, where she lived most of her life after the war. There, she rekindles old friendships and recollections, while also forging new ties with Arifa and her son Nasir.

The novel examines the themes of resilience, family, friendship, loss, and hope. It demonstrates how Nora and Arifa, despite their diverse backgrounds and experiences, share a common connection of survival and empathy. It also depicts the difficulties and pleasures of intergenerational and intercultural relationships, as Nora’s family tries to comprehend and respect her decisions. The novel is full of humour, emotion, and historical details that bring Nora’s character and story to life.

“I am the oldest person ever to have lived in this world. I am the one who lived through their monster camps and brought the ones left of my family to London to make more family. I am the one to laugh at those angry, evil people and tell them, you see, I made it through. We made it through. This is enough. It is my world’s record.”

The author addresses themes like family dynamics and cultural bias with sensitivity and insight.

The Curious Kidnapping of Nora W by Cate Green is a fascinating and touching novel that celebrates the power of human connection and the courage to live on one’s own terms.

“She was a woman who had seen the worst of humanity and yet still found joy in the smallest things. She was a woman who had survived unimaginable horrors and yet still had compassion for others. She was a woman who had lived longer than anyone else and yet still had a zest for life.”

A unique plot, a beautifully written tale with memorable characters.  I strongly recommend this book to anyone who enjoys reading stories that are both entertaining and inspiring.

“You are my family, Nora. You are my mother, my sister, my friend. You are the reason I wake up every morning with a smile on my face. You are the reason I have hope for the future. You are the reason I am alive.”

With thanks to Exclusive Books for the opportunity to read this book.

About this book:

PUBLISHED BY: HarperCollins Publishers
EAN: 9780008562526
DATE PUBLISHED: 31 August 2023
PAGES: 400
GENRE: Modern & contemporary fiction (post c 1945)


About the Author:

Cate Green is a British author who has written one novel, The Curious Kidnapping of Nora W, which was published in 2021. According to her [Goodreads profile], she is a former journalist who has worked for various newspapers and magazines in the UK and abroad. She is also a keen traveller and has visited over 50 countries. She lives in London with her husband and two children.




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