A Student of Weather
Elizabeth Hay
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A Student of Weather
Elizabeth Hay
Counterpoint Press
384 pages
January 2002
rated 4 of 5 possible stars

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Full of contrasts, light and dark, truth and deception, love and rejection, this elegiac novel is written in illuminating prose. The story unfolds through the eyes of the younger of two motherless sisters. Norma Joyce, a square peg who resists any attempt to fit in the round hole of convention is small, dark and exotic. In contrast with her golden-haired older sister, Lucinda, Norma is passionately curious about nature and its mysteries.

When Maurice Dove steps into their lives, Norma Joyce twists him into her consciousness as simply as winding her dark hair around a small finger. Maurice permeates everything in her world, challenging Norma's idea of reality and her definition of beauty, changing her perceptions forever. The tension between the sisters is inevitable, and Norma Joyce is able to act only on what speaks to her true nature. The sisters' peaceful coexistence is constantly threatened by the intrusion of Maurice, ultimately defining each young woman in unexpected ways.

Since early childhood, Norma has given in to the seductive call of her own dark desire. Her challenge: to live in a way that is self- rather than other-defining. Until she learns to walk comfortably through the rooms of her own soul, Norma's authentic self remains in shadow, suffering the limitations of the family's inability to express love to one another.

The texture of this novel is extraordinary, its flawed characters and stunning natural surroundings as changeable as the extremities of weather. A first time read is only the beginning; A Student of Weather promises richer rewards with each visit; this small volume begs to be kept on the bookshelf.

© 2003 by Luan Gaines for Curled Up With a Good Book

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