A Student of Weather

Elizabeth Hay, Author Counterpoint LLC $24 (364p) ISBN 978-1-58243-123-9
""Two sisters fell down the same well, and the well was Maurice Dove."" Acclaimed Canadian short story writer Hay's first novel, recently shortlisted for the prestigious Giller Prize, is a compelling and highly original debut telling the story of two sisters and the jealousy that irrevocably changes their lives when a young student comes to stay on their father's Saskatchewan farm in the 1930s. Ernest Hardy is widowed, a single father raising two young girls on the rural prairies, when twenty-something Maurice Dove arrives from Ottawa to study the region's unusual weather patterns. Eight-year-old Norma Joyce, dark, fiercely intelligent, and inflicted with early puberty, claims Maurice from the first moment she sees him, albeit unrequitedly. Her sister, the ""beautiful, saintly"" Lucinda, 17, falls deeply in love. After Maurice leaves and his letters stop coming, Lucinda suffers a two-month-long deep depression. Seven years later, the sisters cannot forget Maurice. The Hardy family inherits a relative's house and moves to Ottawa, on the same block as the Dove family home. What occurs between then teenaged Norma Joyce (who will likely invite comparisons to Rhoda Penmark of The Bad Seed) and the war-damaged Maurice brings to light a childhood betrayal significant enough to devastate everyone involved. Moving seamlessly through 30 years in Saskatchewan, Ottawa and New York City, Hay's novel offers up just the right combination of melodrama and melancholy. Already a best seller in Canada, it should soar this side of the border, too. (Feb. 7)
Reviewed on: 02/01/2001
Release date: 02/01/2001
Paperback - 368 pages - 978-1-58243-181-9
Paperback - 376 pages - 978-0-7710-3790-0
Hardcover - 366 pages - 978-0-7043-4744-1
Open Ebook - 978-1-55199-433-8
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