The Spirit of Nora
by Lyle Scott Lee
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.