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A Student of Weather by Elizabeth Hay

A Student of Weather (2000)

by Elizabeth Hay

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4121938,483 (3.75)43
  1. 10
    Housekeeping by Marilynne Robinson (Miels)
    Miels: Both are lyrical, heavily atmospheric novels. Both concern the relationship between a strange, bookish protagonist and her more sensible sister. In Robinson's book, it's an eccentric aunt who comes between them. In Hay's, it's a charming, seductive man. Both books are very much about love, loss, social ostracism, and ephemeral/elemental beauty.… (more)
  2. 00
    A Recipe for Bees by Gail Anderson-Dargatz (bnbookgirl)

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» See also 43 mentions

Showing 1-5 of 19 (next | show all)
Mostly liked this story of two Saskatchewan sisters, their dad, and the unexpected Ontario man who comes by a couple of times to study grass. Norma Joyce is more interesting as a child than she is as an adult (she's more normal then), and Lucinda gets more interesting. The dad is consistent. The mysterious man turns into a dull typical man. Lots of references to plants, though, so a nice story for a botanist (assuming the references are all accurate).
Depth, wisdom, life: it all happens here. A decent piece of literature without drama or extreme tragedy. ( )
  LDVoorberg | Dec 3, 2017 |
Elizabeth Hay has this wonderful knack of really embedding you in the location of her novels. One morning, I was so deeply surrounded by 1930s Saskatchewan dust that it was a surprise to see Ontario trees and a lake outside my window when I put the book down.

A lot of the book is about the uneasy relationship between citizens of those two provinces. Norma Joyce Hardy is Saskatchewan: mercurial, productive and yet needy. Maurice Dove is Ontario: sophisticated, confident, self-absorbed.

Loved it. ( )
  AJBraithwaite | Aug 14, 2017 |
A beautifully written novel.

I am generally facinated when stories open in a geographical region with which I am unfamiliar, and this one did - in Saskatchewan during the Dust Bowl years of the Depression. The word pictures were strong and evocative, both during this time and at the end of the book when the heroine returns in the 1970's.

The well-crafted story centers around Nora Joyce, a darkly unattractive, introspective child who is little loved and works hard to construct a world for herself where it doesn't matter. She is motherless, and lives in a household consisting of her beautiful sister, Lucinda, her father Ernest (who blames her for the death of her twin brother Norman), and occasional long visits from a traveling author-naturalist, Maurice.

The story falters in the last quarter, and the ending is unsatisfying -- almost as if the author ran out of things in Nora Joyce's life to share. I kept looking for an epilogue, but no. ( )
  wareagle78 | Feb 3, 2014 |
9 year old Norma Joyce lives on a Saskatchewan farm during the great depression with her father and 18 year old sister. A young man appears in a blizzard, and both girls fall in love with him. The book ends several decades later.

The first half of this novel captivated me with its interesting story and gorgeous writing. However, later half of the book covers Norma Joyce's adult years in Ottawa and New York City, and I didn't really get the point. ( )
  Nickelini | May 6, 2013 |
Yet another re-read. Loved this the first time.

Oh, I still LOVE this book! Elizabeth Hay is a great talent.

"Two sisters fell down the same well, and the well was Maurice Dove."

Acclaimed Canadian short story writer Hay's first novel, which was shortlisted for the prestigious Giller Prize in 2000, 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 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. ( )
  Booktrovert | Apr 6, 2013 |
Showing 1-5 of 19 (next | show all)
But A Student of Weather is not simply a well-wrought example of a fine CanLit premise (Two Prairie Sisters in Love with the Same Man). The plot itself is wide in both physical and emotional geography, and textured enough that the book moves beyond the spare and elegant. . . . Add the seductive incisiveness of the writing, and it’s nearly impossible not to gobble the book whole, even when you want to savour every bite.
These excesses don't spoil ''A Student of Weather,'' which, like its maddening characters, is nearly impossible not to like. Even as a child, Norma Joyce ''has to make everybody uncomfortable.'' Hay seems to share that impulse -- and in this disquieting novel, she succeeds.
Top-flight fiction keeps arriving from Canada with remarkable frequency these days. This time, the high standards set by Alice Munro, Robertson Davies, and others are matched—and then some—by a dramatic first novel from an award-winning Ottawa journalist and short-story writer (Small Change, 1997).

In stunningly precise and suggestive prose, Hay tells a story of obsession and rivalry neatly summarized at the start: “Two sisters fell down a well, and the well was Maurice Dove.”
added by Nickelini | editKirkus Reviews, -- (Feb 7, 2001)
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"But when there are two sisters, one is uglier and more clumsy than the other, one is less clever, one is more promiscuous. Even when all the better qualities unite in one sister, as most often happens, she will not be happy, because the other, like a shadow, will follow her success with green eyes,"

LYDIA DAVIS, Break It Down
For Rhoda Barrett and Ben Fried
First words
Soms laat ze 's avonds nog eens alle details de revue passeren, beginnend met het weer en dan de druppel bloed op het oude laken - waarna ze snel een wens deed: ik wil een man met rechte witte tanden en rode lippen - en tenslotte de komst van die man. Zijn stem buiten, haar hand op de ronde bevroren plek op zijn wang, de appel die hij meebracht.
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. His voice outside, her hand on the coin of frostbite on his cheek, his gift of an apple.
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Book description
When a young man appears at a family's door during a dust storm in the 1930s, their lives are changed forever. His appearance brings to light a rivalry
that sets the stage for the events of the following thirty years. The story moves from Saskatchewan to Ottawa and New York as it follows the lives of the
family and the people surrounding them.

In the drought-ravaged prairies of 1930s Saskatchewan, two sisters fall in love with the same man. Norma Joyce is small, dark and homely, but tough as prairie grass; Lucinda is fair and dutiful, and stands between Norma and the bitter anger of her father. To this land of extreme weather, where dust storms are so fierce they draw blood, comes a stranger - 23-year-old Maurice Dove. Eager for escape, Norma Joyce is bewitched by his stories of hurricanes that strip trees of leaves and bark, and whole civilisations lost to the weather. Out of this fascination with the natural world is born an intense, incendiary love that will exert its disturbing force across more than thirty years.
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 158243123X, Hardcover)

On the prairie of Dust Bowl Canada, two sisters fall down the same well, and the well is named Maurice Dove. A Student of Weather is a brilliant first novel by acclaimed story-writer Elizabeth Hay. Already a best seller in Canada, it tells the story of the rivalry between two contrasting sisters and of the stranger who changes both their lives forever. Spanning thirty years, it opens in the Prairie Dust Bowl of the 1930s and, later, in the decades following the war, moves back and forth between Ottawa and New York City. Maurice Dove is a visitor to the Saskatchewan farm of widower Ernest Hardy. The relationship he forms with Hardy's daughters-the beautiful, virtuous Lucinda and the dark, intelligent, younger Norma-Joyce-gives rise to an act of betrayal that throws into relief the deep-rooted enmity between them. Norma-Joyce's life, from the time she is eight, is fuelled by her obsessive (and unrequited) love for Maurice Dove. Later, in pursuing her life as an artist, she makes discoveries about her past that bring the story full-circle. Hay's evocation of place is palpable, vivid; her characters at once eccentric and familiar. Norma-Joyce, once a strange, dark, self-possessed child, becomes a woman who learns something of self-forgiveness and of the redemptive power of art. Hay's writing is spare yet richly textured, dark and erotic. The physical and emotional landscapes she portrays evoke tragic and comic surprises, and teach us about the lasting imprint of first love.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:17:57 -0400)

(see all 4 descriptions)

Story of Ruby Lennox and her family of eccentrics, presenting four generations of women ... from her great-grandmother's affair with a French photographer to her young sister's efforts to upstage the Queen on Coronation Day. In her profoundly moving, uniquely comic debut, Kate Atkinson introduces readers to the mind and world of Ruby Lennox, born above a pet shop in York at the halfway point of the twentieth century, and determined to understand both the family that precedes her and the life that awaits her. Taking her own conception as her starting point, the irrepressible Ruby narrates a story of four generations of women, from her great-grandmother's affair with a French photographer, to her mother's unfulfilled dreams of Hollywood glamour, to her young sister's efforts to upstage the Queen on Coronation Day. Hurtling in and out of both World Wars, economic downfalls, the onset of the permissive '60s, and up to the present day, Ruby paints a rich and vivid portrait of family heartbreak and happiness.… (more)

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