A Student of Weather Paperback – Feb. 27 2001
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- Paperback : 376 pages
- ISBN-10 : 0771037902
- Item Weight : 372 g
- ISBN-13 : 978-0771037900
- Publisher : Emblem Editions; 1st Emblem Editions publication 2001 (Feb. 27 2001)
- Dimensions : 13.74 x 1.8 x 21.31 cm
- Language: : English
- Best Sellers Rank: #177,804 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
- Customer Reviews:
A Student of Weather is a deftly textured novel about how accidents, in life and weather, impact destiny and how reticence can maim and claim lives. It is about arrivals and leave-takings, forgiveness bestowed then retracted, and the power of artwork to redeem and heal. Hay builds her characters and the world they inhabit from the small details: domestic, elemental, psychological, mythological. The novel's dark luminosity is perfectly embodied by the sisters, whose complex psyches lurk, subdermally, beneath every act, gesture, glance. The saga moves restlessly back and forth across the country, but its true beauty and strength lie in the Saskatchewan sections: the passages describing a seemingly barren grassland teeming with life are like "stepping outside into a burst of liquid birdsong." --Diana Kuprel
“Hay exposes the beauty simmering in the heart of harsh settings with an evocative grace that brings to mind Annie Proulx.…I was so moved by Norma Joyce’s painful, haunting journey to wisdom – and Elizabeth Hay’s telling of it – that I wanted to go back to the beginning and start again.”
–The Washington Post
“This is a book to break (and warm) your heart over and over.…Hay’s language is precise, economical and evocative. In A Student of Weather, every word counts.”
“In stunningly precise and suggestive prose, Hay tells a story of obsession and rivalry.…Hay’s yearning, suffering women have the lit-from-within emotional intensity of D.H. Lawrence’s.…Brilliant.”
–Kirkus Reviews (starred review)
“A brilliant exploration of the universal themes of pain and betrayal and survival, rendered with such a sure, deft touch that Hay seems to be discovering new literary territory…”
–Quill & Quire (starred review)
“Be warned! You won’t be able to set this seductive book down until you’ve finished – sadder, wiser, and gladder to be alive.”
“In elegant and exacting prose, Elizabeth Hay lays bare the perilous power of love and all that we prefer to keep hidden about ourselves. Unsparing and unsettling, this exceptional first novel shines.”
“A Student of Weather is complicated, compelling, and beautifully told.”
“Hay’s contemplative yet dramatic ballad to beauty, autonomy, and creativity is akin to the work of Alice Hoffman and Isabel Allende…enthralling.…”
–Booklist (starred review)
“More than any other forecast, A Student of Weather reads the signs that mark the blessings and curses of persistence.…”
“Hay’s book both captivates and astonishes. Read A Student of Weather and rejoice.”
–London Free Press
“Compelling and highly original.…”
–Publishers Weekly (starred review)
“Bad weather erupts and the result is the creation of an unforgettable fictional world.…This is a book to savour, to ponder and to read a second and third time.…A Student of Weather is first-class: heartfelt, with a sureness of touch and beauty of expression rare in fiction today.”
“This is a wise book, artful and impressively intelligent.…”
–Globe and Mail
“Hay has created a character who burrows into your mind and stays there. Norma Joyce is not larger than life, she is life, and she comes to us fully formed in this rich, compelling, satisfying novel.”
“A work of rare beauty and integrity. Hay has created a heroine, Norma Joyce Hardy, who will linger in the mind long after the last chapter ends.”
–Ottawa X Press
“Elizabeth Hay has intelligence coming out of her fingertips – integrity, insight, and wonder in every paragraph of her writing.…She connects. She stirs and provokes.”
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Top reviews from Canada
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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!
Top reviews from other countries
of the prairies during the drought and the winters and contrast it well with the wealth of Ottawa. I enjoyed the main character
and had hoped for a "happier ending" for her. The book showed the difficulties faced by unwanted pregnancies and their effect
on the whole family.
The characters are well drawn and bitter-sweet. Like Monroe, the language flows in an effortless, timeless manner. It's poetic language.
In this book, like life, don't expect a happy ending. But enjoy the journey. Highly recommended
I have always been attracted to character-driven books. However, it is always the beauty of language that most engages, captivates and ultimately haunts me. To state that Elizabeth Hay is a master of language, somehow, does not suffice. She is so much more than that. She is a poet, a lyricist, a magician and then some. The prose shimmers and glows, it stuns the mind and heart.
`A Student of Weather' is an accessible read. One is immediately experiencing life in 1938 in Saskatchewan. We are instantaneously living with the family Hardy. Lucinda is approximately a decade older than Norma Joyce. Their father, Ernest Hardy, is a taciturn farmer who lives up to being both `ernest' and `hardy.' The climate is dry, and there is dust everywhere. It is gritty, and we feel the grit, we feel everything. Senses become acute to weather, to landscape, and to people, their feelings, as well as their motives.
Maurice Dove, a stranger, arrives. He charms both sisters, and trouble ensues. He lacks a moral compass.
This book, in many ways, was reminiscent of Dickens in some of its characters. For example, there are Mrs. Hulder and Mrs. Gallot. Then there is Mrs. Dove, Maurice's mother. Secondary characters though they are, they are nonetheless important.
We move from Saskatchewan to Ottawa and even experience life in New York City.
Lucinda is clearly the beautiful sister, but Norma Joyce is the interesting sister. She is many things, but she is always fascinating. She is unrelenting in her pursuits.
This is, at once, an extravagant yet economical book. It is one of the most unforgettable books that I have ever read. It contains so much beauty, tragedy, and more. This book is truly one about life, how we experience it, and how we live it.
I do not often do this, but I ordered `Alone In The Classroom' once I read approximately one-hundred pages of `A Student of Weather.' I knew that I was in the presence of an unusually talented writer.
If you like character-driven fiction that both breaks the heart and makes it sing, this is a must read.
I must thank my good Amazon friends for alerting me to this book. It was Switterbug who knew that I would fall in love with this type of literature, and I am in her debt.