This little story was truly a wonderful surprise. I expected a cozy little family saga, but got much more. This quiet unassuming novel about ordinary people builds slowly into a gripping tale that once it gets going is impossible to put down.
It begins in 1938 on a farm in Saskatchewan, Canada with two lonely motherless sisters, nine years apart in age and worlds apart in looks and personality. Norma Joyce is small, dark, wiry, homely, inquisitive, provocative, and restless, while older sister Lucinda is a ravishing redhead, quiet, serene, the hard working homemaker for father and younger sister. Although Norma is just a kid, when Maurice Dove, a 'student of weather' visits the farm, both sisters, each in their own way, fall desperately in love with him, a love to last a lifetime, but with tragic consequences. The presence of Maurice will be the wedge that drives the sisters apart and alters the family fate, although the personality of each character will also determine the outcome of the story, which later shifts to Ottawa and then alternates between Ottawa and New York City.
What makes this novel stand out from the crowd aside from its careful plotting and lovely descriptive passages about foliage, flora, and of course weather, are the ways in which the author makes brilliant use of small details of personality and psychology to drive what would otherwise be an ordinary story into high gear and to create unforgettable complex characters. She gets it right on target, too, so much so, that the reader feels that he/she is a witness to real peoples' lives. This book is one of my top picks of the year!