The first book read from my #20BooksofSummer stack! At first it opened with a blizzard and I thought oh no, I misread the description of this one? This doesn’t belong on a Summer list does it? But, no worries, it was the opening chapter and our introduction to Maurice Dove, the man that would feature prominently in the Hardy sisters’ lives – Norma Joyce and Lucinda. It does shift to summer months – the dry, dusty, drought-intensity of Saskatchewan and the sweaty, sticky, humidity found in Ontario. A Student of Weather was a quintessential quiet Canadian novel.
Quintessentially Canadian because of its quietness, which seems to be a classic trait found in Canadian novels, but also because Hay made parts of Canada feel as though they were characters in the story as well. Certainly, Saskatchewan and Ontario’s landscapes were very well described and had a central part in this story. Their descriptions definitely situated the reader in Saskatchewan’s dusty, dry, drought-intense landscape (as was the relentless snow in the winter) and in Ontario’s more lush and towering trees, the smells of spring flowers and the sweaty, humid and stickier weather found in the summer.
It ended up being a good one to kick off the 20 Books of Summer reading, because of being able to settle easily into this kind of quiet novel, and settle into the beautifully written stories of Lucinda and Norma Joyce, even though I’m still wrestling with feelings for Norma Joyce. I’m sure of my general dislike for Maurice Dove – the man that came out of a blizzard, created a rivalry between the two sisters and used them both whenever he felt like being near and a part of their lives. With Norma Joyce — she was a precocious young girl, but perhaps not so likeable as an adult? Her actions and intentions as a young girl can be dismissed perhaps due to her immature and young feelings for Maurice, but her adult behaviour wasn’t as easily dismissed. And there were other little things that I wrestled with like the loose story line or the loose threads scattered throughout. However, Hay is an incredibly poignant writer and shamefully, this was my first book of hers I’ve read! I do own a number of them though, like Late Nights on Air, Alone in the Classroom and His Whole Life, so there is the delight in being able to lose myself in her writing again, and again, and again. Perhaps I should have made Elizabeth Hay’s novels a big chunk of my 20 Books of Summer? 😉
I received a lot of great feedback about reading A Student of Weather, many proclaiming it was one of their favourites and they loved it so. Have you read it?
I’m going to try my best to not swap out too many, or any at all, from my original list, but I’ve already veered so clear of my list and June is whizzing by, I’m wondering if I’ll ever get it back under control?! But if my original choices are all as enjoyable as A Student of Weather, I’ve made a strong summer reading list that I should try harder to stick to! I’ve got a decent number of CanLit on it, so I should be in good shape. I’ll try and give it better attention, and fully intend to bring quite a few to my book club this week to hopefully choose one of them for our next meeting.