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A Student of Weather

3.67  ·  Rating Details  ·  1,684 Ratings  ·  129 Reviews
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-forgi ...more
Paperback, 344 pages
Published July 1st 2004 by McClelland & Stewart (first published 2000)
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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Dec 04, 2013 Connie rated it really liked it
The charming Maurice Dove is a botany student sent out to Saskatchewan to study the weather. When he walks into the Hardy home in 1938, he sets off a rivalry between two very different sisters. Lucille was beautiful, golden-haired, orderly and dependable. Norma Joyce was younger, darker, and a collector with a love of nature. Her natural curiosity is stimulated by Maurice's stories. Ernest Hardy, a widower, is a competent but distant man with a clear preference for one of his daughters. Maurice ...more
Jun 20, 2011 Jill rated it it was amazing
“For most of our lives the days pass waywardly, without meaning, without particular happiness or unhappiness. Then, like turning over a tapestry when you have only known the back of it, there is spread the pattern.”

Elizabeth Hay quotes author Jane Gardham as a lead-in to one of the sections of her brilliant and nuanced novel, A Student of Weather. It is an apt quote, because Ms. Hay is fascinated with patterns…from the most ancient to the most contemporary, from natural patterns to patterns of t
Aug 30, 2010 Kim rated it it was ok
Shelves: fiction, canadian
Honestly, I should be giving this book 1 star, but I'm adding another star because it's Canadian and a lot of the book takes place in an often overlooked part of the country - Saskatchewan.

I just could not like any of the characters - they all irritated me and could not find any redeeming qualities in them to make all their frustrating aspects forgivable. And I just couldn't understand why Elizabeth Hay would allude to so much action yet to happen yet in the next paragraph brush over so many thi
Jan 25, 2014 Joanne rated it it was amazing
This book starts slowly. As a child in the first part, Norma Joyce is so annoying, so clingy, sneaky and needy, as to be unsympathetic and I wasn't sure how much time I would invest in the book. However, as the pages rolled by, and her life took such sad turns, I began to be more invested in her. Maurice was a truly horrible person, the kind of shallow, selfish individual who seems so attractive and charismatic on the surface but has no depth, no empathy for others. His abuse of Norma Joyce's af ...more
switterbug (Betsey)
Elizabeth Hay is both a writer's writer and a consummate reader's writer--a word-siren, language mystic, narrative shaman, and spellbinding painter of prose. In this, her first novel, she creates a ballad-like story of contrasts--truth and deception, love and rejection, light and dark, faith and betrayal.

Two sisters, living with their widowed father, are a study of opposites. Seventeen-year-old Lucinda is lovely, tall, titian-haired, pliable, hard-working, dutiful, and light; nine-year-old Norma
Sep 08, 2012 Sarah rated it it was amazing
Achingly lovely. Achingly resonant. It's as if this book was written just for me.

This is instantly my favorite novel.
Apr 06, 2013 Ashlee rated it liked it
This book makes me feel as moody as the Ottawa weather in early Spring mixed with the endless rain in Vancouver. Unluckily, the sun never came throughout the book.

The writing is beautiful and i don't regret reading it. However, the stereotypes strike me: with the soft conservative Scandinavian-looking sister being the beautiful one and the dark short Italian&Japanese-looking sister being the ugly sneaky one- and only makes a man want her - sexually! A feeling of a Hollywood blockbuster in t
Sep 02, 2008 Mel rated it it was ok
This book was very poetically written but very anti-climatic. By the time I finished it, I felt like I had wasted a whole bunch of time.
Dani Richardson
May 20, 2014 Dani Richardson rated it it was ok
Shelves: readwomen2014
I know it isn't possible to only read novels that I enjoy, and that it isn't fair to only review these works either... so here goes. I was given this book by my SO's mother, as she and her husband downsize to move later this month. I was completely enamoured by the book cover, which featured a simple design with a black and white photograph of a young woman (shown only from the torso down) on a rock surrounded by ferns and water. Lovely!

Then I delved into the text and became progressively less
Mar 06, 2010 Stacy rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Kyle Webb
Saskatchewan, Canada, 1930s.
The cranky father: Ernest Hardy - The Sister: Lucinda Hardy - The Stranger (who brings the rain to the dusty prairie: Maurice Dove -
The Twin who died: Norman... The One Called Ugly, Strange, lazy: Joyce, remaned Norma Joyce after little Norman died.

Norma Joyce, comes to be the most beautiful child filled with imagination, even though everyone finds her to be ugly and unmotivated. She holds healing, learning and loving in her soul.

A story of two sisters, growing up
This quote by Lydia Davis starts the novel:
“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.”
This is a story of rivalry and of obsession. Though not really a happy story, a bit dark at times, actually, it is still a story full of hope, dreams and de
Shirley Schwartz
Nov 25, 2012 Shirley Schwartz rated it it was amazing
This book is totally mesmerizing. I really couldn't put it down. I was totally caught up in the lives of the two sisters Lucinda and Norma Joyce. The book begins right smack in the middle of the dustbowl 1930's on a Saskatchewan farm. This farm is where Lucinda and Norma Joyce were born, as well as Norma Joyce's twin brother Norman. Times were hard and all the country families pulled together to help everyone out. Norma Joyce's twin brother dies at the age of 2 and her mother when Norma Joyce wa ...more
Jun 05, 2009 Michelle rated it it was ok
Amazing story of love and lust, proving how men can take on two personalities and also how men are affectd by war. I felt really sorry for Norma Joyce and how her life panned out, and sad that she never received the love and respect she should have received from her father and the man she loved. I was disappointed by the ending, as I hoped Norma Joyce would find happiness, but the ending was very powerful in that it evoked those feelings of remembering a childhood place, and returning, only to b ...more
Leslie Shimotakahara
Apr 05, 2012 Leslie Shimotakahara rated it really liked it
Opening in the sultry prairies of 1930s Saskatchewan, this novel evocatively uses meterology, or the study of the weather, as a metaphor for the turbulence in two sisters' love lives as they fight for the same man's affections. I particularly enjoyed how the author avoids the cliches of a typical love story by exploring what happens when love doesn't work out for either woman ... My full review can be read at my blog,
Aaron Shepard
Dec 11, 2013 Aaron Shepard rated it really liked it
This is my second time reading this book, as I wanted to revisit her descriptions of the light and landscape of the prairies. She has a talent for making you feel the passage of time from the perspective of the protagonist - a languid day that resonates throughout the book, or years that pass by at bewildering speed.
Zarya Rubin
Mar 31, 2007 Zarya Rubin rated it it was amazing
Set in the Saskatchewan dustbowl in the 1930s, this tale of two very different sisters and the diverging paths their lives take is masterful, engrossing, full of twists and turns about the choices we make and how our lives are so easily altered. Beautifully written.
Mar 10, 2015 Penny rated it it was ok
I was prepared to love this book, but while there are some beautiful, insightful moments, it just wasn't enough. I had to slog through it, like waist deep snow, and the best part was tossing it in my finished stack.
Judy Mann
Oct 07, 2014 Judy Mann rated it did not like it
I'm not trying to read any more books by Elizabeth Hay.This was my final attempt to like her books and it failed drastically.The only positive thing I can say about this book is that I made it to the end. And what did I get when I got there? Nothing, More confusion. more innuendo. More BUPKIS.
So many cliffhangers. So many inferences. So much horse sh-t.
She continually brings up incidents that are never resolved- at all. And why does she do this? Hot damned if I know.
Alas , eventually she
May 09, 2016 Lisa rated it liked it
Shelves: 2014
This is like two books, first half and second half, 5-star and 1-star.

The first half was phenomenal. I kept dog-earring the pages to remind myself to come back and read an amazing sentence, maybe copy it into my copy journal. The author used present tense in a way that mesmerized you. She also used foreshadowing in a way that slapped you wide awake. I loved that! I was ready to re-read the book before I'd finished it. Norma Joyce and Lucinda, I couldn't wait to see what happened to them.

Then the
Rated 4.5

I've sat down to write this review so many times since I read this book almost a month ago. Yet, I couldn't the words to correctly describe my thoughts about A Student of Weather. I still can't, but I will try. This is not a fast-paced book, if that's what you like. It doesn't even have a plot as such. In fact, the first few pages were a bit of a struggle to get into. But once I got past that initial hurdle, I could fully appreciate what a stunning piece of work this is, and how sadly
Janet Gardner
Jun 30, 2013 Janet Gardner rated it it was amazing
I picked this up at a library sale, judging it solely by its cover. Bad me. But, wow, am I ever glad I did. In 1930’s dust-bowl Saskatchewan, eight-year-old Norma Joyce Hardy, suffering (invisibly to her family) in the throes of an early puberty, falls hopelessly in love with 23-year-old traveling scholar Maurice Dove, who has come to the prairie to study the weather, and who, frostbitten and in deep distress, knocks on the Hardy family’s door one desperately cold winter evening. The young Dove ...more
Rebecca Rosenblum
Jun 20, 2015 Rebecca Rosenblum rated it it was amazing
According to my Goodreads list, I haven't read a novel that was both for adults and actually structured like a novel since April, so maybe that's why this book totally blew me away. But actually, I think it's just that strong a book. Magical-seeming narrative voice shifts from omniscient to 3rd-person-limited gradually over the course of the book, no compulsion to solve or settle plotlines, just a genuine fascination with the characters and their lots in life. I'm a fan of Hay in general, but I ...more
Oct 08, 2014 Margo rated it really liked it
A Student of Weather by Elizabeth Hay

A wonderful written book that I will recommend to everyone. A part of it takes place in my home town, Swift Current. Sask.
Jennifer D
Jan 04, 2016 Jennifer D rated it really liked it
Shelves: canadian, owned-paper
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."

Elizabeth Hay won the Giller Prize in 2007 for her book Late Nights on Air. I have devoured all of her works and adored each of them.
Roger Brunyate
May 15, 2016 Roger Brunyate rated it really liked it
The Naturalist

There is fiction and there is life, and the two are different. Typical fiction is articulated by its story, whether the grand heroic moment or the slow journey to some conclusion. But natural life continues after the novelist's conclusion, and most of it—untidy, sometimes surprising, often quietly satisfying—is far from heroic. It has taken me two books to realize it, but Elizabeth Hay is a novelist of this second kind, essentially a naturalist. She is interested in what happens, e
Dec 14, 2014 Lis rated it it was amazing
A lovely book - spans from the 1930s to the 1970s, from Saskatchewan to Ottawa to New York City and back. Starts with an eight-year old girl and traces through her life (struggles, challenges, and occasional pleasures and griefs).

Elizabeth Hay is such a wonderful writer. I loved every bit of this and read it in one gulp this afternoon & evening. This is a book that you read not so much for what happens (though you care about that) but for how it is told. Not surprising that it was shortlist
Mar 28, 2014 Lori rated it it was amazing
This beautifully written novel has everything that I look for in a book- rich and detailed character development, a mesmerizing plot (filled with conflict and betrayal), a satisfying ending, and gorgeous prose throughout.

"And then, as luck sometimes has it, the salvation. She hears voices. Lucinda's voice and a man's. She slips on her coat, her mittens, and goes outside. Her sister is on the porch cradling wood (old fence posts, scavenged and split up into kindling) against her chest and holding
May 14, 2014 Juliana rated it it was amazing
I was completely sucked into this book. There are few books that captivate me the way A Student of Weather did. Off the top of my head, the only other book I can mention that had a similar effect on me would have to be The Virgin Suicides by Jeffrey Eugenides. Elizabeth Hay's writing style has a way of pulling you in and enveloping you in its splendid prose, making it hard to put down this book for another day. It also instilled a bit of pride in me, knowing this book was centered around my home ...more
Sharon Zink
Aug 27, 2014 Sharon Zink rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
"A child falls in love with a man, and the man is seduced by the intensity he has generated. Then his attention shifts to something else. End of story."--from page 357.

Actually, this is probably a pretty realistic book. In addition to the description above, two sisters are attracted to the same man. The story is really about how the two sisters hurt each other and help to destroy each other's happiness. What drew me to the story is that is was described as two sisters trying to make a living on
Judy Adamson
Mar 17, 2008 Judy Adamson rated it really liked it
This story is about two sisters who love the same man
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From Elizabeth Hay's web site:
"Elizabeth Hay was born in Owen Sound, Ontario, the daughter of a high school principal and a painter, and one of four children. When she was fifteen, a year in England opened up her world and set her on the path to becoming a writer. She attended the University of Toronto, then moved out west, and in 1974 went north to Yellowknife in the Northwest Territories. For th
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