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Student of Weather, A Paperback – 14 Dec 2001


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Paperback, 14 Dec 2001
£18.68 £0.86
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Product details

  • Paperback: 384 pages
  • Publisher: Counterpoint; New e. edition (14 Dec. 2001)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1582431817
  • ISBN-13: 978-1582431819
  • Product Dimensions: 21.8 x 14 x 2.7 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (8 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,910,478 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description

Review

'Memorable characters... a complicated and remarkable bunch' Times Literary Supplement; 'This novel touches the quick of what we are and might yet be' The Times; 'Hay successfully explores, in spare poetic prose, the link between passionate love and the natural world' The List; 'A novel transformed through strong characterisation and dramatic evocation of landscape into an accomplished and satisfying narrative'New Internationalist --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

About the Author

Elizabeth Hay's short fiction, Small Change, was shortlisted for the Governor General's Award for Fiction. She lives in Ottawa and this is her first novel. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Inside This Book (Learn More)
First Sentence
Some nights she still goes over every detail, beginning with the weather and proceeding to the drop of blood on the old sheet - her quick wish for a man with straight white teeth and red lips - and then his arrival. Read the first page
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Customer Reviews

4.6 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By gminett1@compuserve.com on 31 Jan. 2002
Format: Paperback
1930s Saskatchewan......and the Hardy Family in their respective ways are living up to their name. Ernest, brooding and increasingly withdrawn from a world which has deprived him of his wife and two-year-old son, takes consolation in the routines and rituals required to extract a meagre existence from the harsh and unforgiving landscape. Lucinda, undemonstrative and unfailingly loyal, has accepted the inevitability of putting her own ambitions on hold while there are other, more pressing responsibilities to take on. Norma Joyce, many years younger and several degrees plainer than her sister, is constantly questioning, pushing, determined to carve out an identity for herself and make sense of her father's palpable dislike of her.
Into this maelstrom strolls Maurice Dove, charismatic, engaging and criminally careless with his affections. For most people, it seems obvious that he and the attractive Lucinda will be drawn towards each other. Norma Joyce however has a totally different agenda and is not accustomed to giving way to anyone.
From Saskatchewan to Ontario and back again, spanning a period of almost 40 years, Elizabeth Hay describes Norma Joyce's journey to self-discovery and eventual redemption. It is a journey filled with pain, loss and almost unbearable dignity in the face of the worst that life can throw at her and Ms Hay's touch is astonishing for someone writing a first novel. In these days of the bludgeon, it is an absolute joy to come across someone who can convey the most extreme of emotions as much through what is left unsaid as anything else.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Mary Whipple HALL OF FAMETOP 100 REVIEWER on 7 Sept. 2003
Format: Paperback
Setting her story in the Saskatchewan Dust Bowl in the 1930s, where "children grew up never tasting an apple and thinking Ontario was heaven," Hay tells of Norma Joyce and her sister Lucinda, opposite in appearance and personality, who have little to keep their minds and hearts occupied on the flat prairie and on their farm, where they have only their stern and uncommunicative father for company. The sisters fixate on the homely details of their lives, beautifully and vividly described by Hay--strange, little Norma Joyce collecting (or stealing) bones, buttons, and small objects, which she displays in the unused room which once belonged to her mother, while shy, beautiful Lucinda cleans every corner of the house and concentrates on being the perfect housekeeper. Into this emotional void steps Maurice Dove, a handsome student of weather and fascinating story teller, who quickly becomes the focus of both sisters' attentions while he stays with them and studies the native grasses which have apparently protected their farm from the ravages of the wind and weather.
In the hands of a lesser writer, the story could have become a romantic pot-boiler, at this point, but Hay's insights into the differing thoughts and motivations of all the characters, all of them with faults, combined with her beautifully realized setting, her lovely, often quiet, descriptions of weather and nature in all seasons, and her use of common sights and objects as symbols make this an absorbing story of a woman's search for fulfillment.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on 10 May 2002
Format: Paperback
A fantastic book. An amazing journey with Norma Joyce through her life with its changing landscapes and weather. Hay manages to put the reader right into the head of Norma Joyce throughout the novel, and truely brings her to life. As much as I love Shipping News by E Annie Prolux, this rates even better.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Dr. Kenneth W. Douglas on 13 Feb. 2004
Format: Paperback
This is a fantastic novel by a writer I'd never previously heard of. Ernest Hardy unfairly blames his 3-year-old daughter Norma Joyce for the accidental death of his son (the exact circumstances are left in doubt, but clearly holding a grudge against a 3-year-old is unreasonable, if understandable). His subsequent favouritism towards her elder sister Lucinda warps both girls as they grow up, and sets the stage for a family conflict of Shakespearean proportions. Even from the age of nine, Norma Joyce begins to plot to steal attractive meteorology student Maurice Dove from her sister. When she (inevitably) succeeds, it is only to discover that Maurice wasn't such a fantastic prize anyway; but Lucinda never forgives her.
Weather is very much a recurring theme: it is used both literally (Hay writes in a positively numinous way about the Canadian prairie landscape, with extremely beautiful language) and as a metaphor for the way random bad luck (what Iris Murdoch would call "the contingent"), such as the death of Norma Joyce's younger brother, can sweep into lives and lay them waste.
Norma Joyce is an utterly convincing character, as indeed is Lucinda: there is a fairytale intensity in the contrast between blonde, classically beautiful "good girl" Lucinda and short, dark "bad girl" Norma Joyce; but of course, both are complex characters who finally escape the roles imposed on them by their father. I can think of few fictional characters quite as well-rounded as Norma Joyce: as one back-cover reviewer puts it, she "is life itself".
A stunning read, then, and constantly surprising. Buy it.
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