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A Student of Weather Paperback – Feb 27 2001


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 376 pages
  • Publisher: Emblem Editions; 1st Emblem Editions publication 2001 edition (Feb. 27 2001)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0771037902
  • ISBN-13: 978-0771037900
  • Product Dimensions: 20.8 x 13.5 x 2 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 363 g
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (13 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #55,980 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)


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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Lynn Adler on May 8 2001
Format: Hardcover
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!
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Luan Gaines on Jan. 23 2002
Format: Paperback
This elegiac novel is full of contrasts: light and dark, truth and deception, love and rejection. Written in prose that illuminates, the story unfolds through the eyes of the youngest of two motherless sisters, Norma Joyce. Small, dark and exotic, Norma Joyce is a square peg that refuses to fit in a round hole. In contrast with her older, golden-haired sister, Lucinda, Norma is passionate about nature, curious and tenacious. From the time Maurice Dove enters their lives, Norma Joyce wraps him through her life as simply as winding her dark hair around a finger. Maurice permeates her world, her interpretation of reality and her definition of beauty for years to come.
The tension between the sisters is as old as mankind, and Norma Joyce is unable to do anything but what speaks to her true nature. The sisters peaceful coexistence is threatened by the reality of Maurice, ultimately defining each young woman in unexpected ways.
Norma seems at times driven by her own dark desire, even as a child. Her challenge is to live in a way that is self- rather than other-defining. Her true identity remains in shadow until she learns to walk comfortably through the rooms of her own soul, accepting the limitations of her family's inability to express love.
The texture of this novel is extraordinary. A first-time read is only the beginning; A STUDENT OF WEATHER will take on new incarnations with each reading.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Jonathan Burgoine on July 17 2001
Format: Hardcover
Beginning in the "dust-bowl" era in Saskatchewan, "A Student of Weather" brings us to the home of the Hardy family. There, we meet Ernest, a bitter man and the farmer-father of the family. His wife has died, leaving behind two sisters: Lucinda, literally the treasured one, and Norma Joyce, our heroine of the story, blunt and somewhat odd.
When a student of weather arrives at their home, both Lucinda and Norma Joyce tumble into a love for him, and the story begins there.
Norma Joyce is a wonderful character, and her character is often both a joy and hurtful to read. There is an extreme level of pathos and empathy to this work, and all of it important. The story meanders from Saskatchewan to Ottawa and even to New York as we follow Norma Joyce, and as the secrets of her family are uncovered, and her deceits and kindesses are explored, we find a woman of remarkable iron strength.
For myself, the benchmark of a good solid work of literature will always be a strong character base, and "A Student of Weather" definately has that. Between the Hardys, and the student of weather, Maurice Dove, for which the novel is named, there are no weak characters here. I've re-read my copy a few times, and still find something new to its pages.
If you are at all a fan of recent-historical fiction, or simply a lover of strong characters, especially strong women, then this is a book for you. Elizabeth Hay is a name to watch out for.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Stephen A. Haines HALL OF FAMETOP 500 REVIEWER on Oct. 15 2003
Format: Hardcover
It's an interesting experience to encounter a book in which none of the major figures is likeable. Yet that very circumstance is a tribute to Elizabeth Hay's eloquent portrayal of two sisters in drought-ridden central Canada. Her people are deep and complex, intensely drawn and immensely real. Even the peripheral characters ring true, without the blemish of contrivance. Hay's descriptive ability in both urban and rural settings gives this book further enhancement. She vividly depicts the impact of environment on her chief protagonist, providing a framework for change of mood throughout the narrative. Hay, too, is clearly a student of weather. And a keen observer of people.
Norma Joyce Hardy initiates a life-long adoration of Maurice Dove with a touch on his cheek. That she's but a child is of little moment. That she's overshadowed by her sister's beauty becomes even less so. Even at nine years of age, she's driven by determination to find the means to supplant Lucinda. Resentful of her sister's looks, industry, and favoured place with their father, she becomes secretive, duplicitous, devious. Lucinda, having replaced their dead mother, is vulnerable, and Norma Joyce takes advantage of that exposure. Maurice becomes the tool for expressing Norma's envy, but she becomes the victim of her own machinations. Maurice, unsurprisingly, is following his own agenda, and Norma's place in it is problematic.
In pursuit of Maurice, Norma Joyce's life orbits like an erratic comet. From the most rural to the most urban environments in North America and back again, her loci remain vague. Only Maurice is a fixed point, but that seeming stability actually is the cause of her displacements.
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