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Sudden Rain: A Novel by Maritta Wolff
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Sudden Rain: A Novel

by Maritta Wolff

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My friend DG has been recommending Wolff to me for about a year. She was his 2007 discovery. The lowdown on this forgotten novelist is that at age 22 she wrote this total blockbuster called Whistle Stop about a skanky family outside of Detroit. That was in 1941. She continued to produce novels for the next few decades after her death in 2002, a manuscript was found in her refrigerator. Sudden Rain is that manuscript.

Written in the early 1970s, Sudden Rain tells the story of half a dozen couples in and around Los Angeles, mostly unhappy and either divorced or well on their way. There's lots of drinking, smoking, an almost Flannery O'Connor-like act of violence, bad traffic and a spectacular fire. The dialogue crackles, the landscape is evocative, and I ate this up like a great big frosted cupcake.

Now I have to go back and read everything Wolff wrote. ( )
  laurenbufferd | Nov 14, 2016 |
It's a shame this book was left as a manuscript in a refrigerator for 30 years, because it would have been much more relevant to read in the 1970s than when it was published in the early 2000s.

It's a story of lots of relationships, none of which is really working. Most of these are marriages and 'affairs'. I suppose the main thesis of the book is that for the vast majority of people their major relationships have substantial, even fatal, flaws. In some cases the relationships do die, but in others they linger on in living death.

That's a good line to write about, but none of the characters attracted me or even made me feel at all sympathetic to their cause. They all seemed like people I'd cross the street to avoid. Nonetheless I did complete all 400 pages, so it must have had something going for it. I guess it was the appeal of seeing where the situations ended up. The kind of novel you might read to occupy yourself on a long train trip, but then you're quite happy to throw the book in the rubbish bin when you get to the end. ( )
  oldblack | Feb 5, 2010 |
I did not like this book. It's very dated ... initially I thought I was reading a parody ... but realised too late, that it was just a very dated story. There were no light and shades, just a blunt instrument telling the stories of very unempowered woman and umrecontructed men. ( )
  tandah | Feb 18, 2009 |
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0743254856, Paperback)

A vivid, gripping, emotional, and addictive read, Sudden Rain is also a rare and valuable time capsule: the long-lost manuscript of Maritta Wolff -- the author who, at the age of twenty-two, published what Sinclair Lewis deemed "the most important novel of the year," Whistle Stop (1941).

Now that Sudden Rain has come out of its hiding place -- in Wolff's refrigerator, found after her death -- it remains gloriously frozen in time. Set in the fall of 1972, the novel perfectly captures, with expansive emotion and cinematic detail, the domestic trends of three generations of middle-class couples living in suburban Los Angeles. A brilliant portrait of its burgeoning era, Sudden Rain also offers striking cultural commentary on our everyday notions of love and marriage; individuality, equality, and community; and the promise and pursuit of the American Dream.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:23:00 -0400)

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"Set in the fall of 1972, Sudden Rain is a drama that offers great insight into the nature of marriage - both then and now. The story centers around middle-class couples of three different generations and the ways in which their relationships and home lives are affected by the trends (specifically the rise in divorce and feminism) of the time. In the suburbs around Los Angeles, traditional housewives in their thirties and forties are starting to ask whether they are satisfied by their everyday lives. Meanwhile, at least one young woman in her early twenties feels paralyzed by her options. Tom and Nedith have been married for thirty years, but their union is rooted firmly in the mores of the 1950's: he works hard as an engineer; she stays at home; neither is happy. Meanwhile, their son, Pete, has recently split from his wife, Killian, after less than a year of marriage. Their neighbor Cynny sees herself as reasonably happy in her marriage to Jim - until she has an eye-opening conversation with one of her girlfriends, and begins to stray. Cynny's friend Nancy - who knows she's unhappy in her marriage - determines to go looking for fulfillment but stumbles into something so unexpected, it may make everyone in the community reconsider the choices they've made. The novel all takes place in one stormy L.A. weekend, as a literal fog of unrest blows into town and alters these marriages forever."--BOOK JACKET.… (more)

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