5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
Unclassifiable - but delicious,
By A Customer
This review is from: Rainy Day Women (Hardcover)The thing about Rainy Day Women is it's near impossible to classify. Yes, it's a rite of passage story, the main character is a 15 year old girl Jo, and she falls headlong for a dodgy male. He's a folk singer, this being 1971 and Jo being a folk club afficionado along with her friend Francine - who incidentally is in love with the same guy, though she doesn't know poor Jo is.
Meanwhile at home the house and family are falling apart. Jo's parents only appear in flashbacks, alcoholic father and workaholic mother, their absence is the heartbreak at the cold centre of the story. The Red House is described as an oddity built by an 18th century madman to irritate his wife, and it is as much a character in the book as Jo, Francine and Jo's 3 weird brothers and intolerable bossy sister-in-law. Not to mention deliciously revolting toddler nephew Angus and a cat called Elvis. It is ALSO a murder mystery, but not so much whodunnit as who done what? Maybe the house is actually haunted. Jo's batty brother Tarquin seems to think so, but he would do, wouldn't he? And why has the folk singer moved in with Tarquin anyway? There is even a code to be cracked, which might or might not have been given to Jo by the poltergeist, if he exists (if he does exist, he's apparently named Clarence).
Amazingly, all this comes together, it all makes sense, it all resolves for better or worse, the ending is really satisfying and a tricky little twist just when you think it's over. Rainy Day Women is a page turner at times blackly comic and also disturbing story. The portrayal of a teenaged girl bringing herself up in this desperately dysfunctional family is achingly good. And it's full of the music of the time, the good, the bad, and the cacophonous.