A Student of Weather

Written by Elizabeth Hay
Review by Sarah L. Nesbeitt

Maurice Dove, a botanist and student of weather, journeys from Ottawa to rural Saskatchewan in the mid-1930s to analyze the climate of the Canadian Great Plains. His handsome presence stirs up a whirlwind of romantic yearnings in the two Hardy sisters. The elder, beautiful blonde Lucinda, her father’s favorite, takes pride in her impeccable housekeeping and graceful manners. Norma-Joyce, the unattractive dark-haired younger sister, always tries to get her own way. Though Maurice seems attracted by Lucinda’s many charms, it’s the eight-year-old Norma-Joyce who stirs his curiosity. The sisters’ rivalry surrounding Maurice extends throughout most of their lives.

The strengths of this novel are in its characterizations and language. Lucinda, trying so hard to be perfect, is easy to admire — but harder to like. In return, Norma-Joyce’s brutal honesty, in her unabashed attempts to capture Maurice for herself, makes the reader root for her despite her faults.

Hay’s prose has not a word out of place. Her world is one of passionate yearnings and stormy weather, both physical and emotional. Though far from your typical romance, A Student of Weather is a sensual exploration of the power of love in its many forms. Absolutely not to be missed by anyone who simply loves good writing.