Books·Canadian

A Student of Weather

This book is Giller Prize–winning author Elizabeth Hay's debut novel.

Elizabeth Hay

From some accidents of love and weather we never quite recover. At the worst of the Prairie dust bowl of the 1930s, a young man appears out of a blizzard and forever alters the lives of two sisters. There is the beautiful, fastidious Lucinda, and the tricky and tenacious Norma Joyce, at first a strange, self-possessed child, later a woman who learns something of self-forgiveness and of the redemptive nature of art. Their rivalry sets the stage for all that follows in a narrative spanning over thirty years, beginning in Saskatchewan and moving, in the decades following the war, to Ottawa and New York City. Disarming, vividly told, unforgettable, this is a story about the mistakes we make that never go away, about how the things we want to keep vanish and the things we want to lose return to haunt us. (From McClelland & Stewart)

From the book

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.

Everyone said it was eastern weather, the snow so deep and even that the carol was always in her mind, and she asked her father and sister who St. Stephen was, but as usual they didn't know. The absence of wind, a certain mildness in the air, a certain depth: instead of cutting sideways, the weather came down. People said this was the way it snowed in Ontario, and she thought, since I cannot get to Ontario, Ontario has come to me.


From A Student of Weather by Elizabeth Hay ©2001. Published by McClelland & Stewart.