Monday, January 18, 2016

book review: Weathering by Lucy Wood

The basics:  "Pearl doesn't know how she's ended up in the river--the same messy, cacophonous river in the same rain-soaked valley she'd been stuck in for years. But here her spirit swirls and stays . . . Ada, Pearl's daughter, doesn't know how she's ended up back in the house she left thirteen years ago--with no heating apart from a fire she can't light, no way of getting around apart from an old car she's scared to drive, and no company apart from her own young daughter, Pepper. She wants to clear out Pearl's house so she can leave and not look back."--publisher

My thoughts: When Weathering came out in the UK last year, many predicted it would be longlisted for the Baileys Prize. It wasn't, but when it finally was scheduled to come out in the U.S., I was still curious to read it. I picked it up not knowing what it's about, as both the title and cover are ambiguous. If I had read the basic description, I might have realized this book might not be one I'd enjoy.

I struggled to get into this book, despite Wood's writing. I think what ultimately kept me from connecting to this book was the disconnect between the writing style and the story itself. The writing is realistic in style, as it is incredibly descriptive, but it's coupled with a fairy tale-like story that is far from real. As a reader, I struggled to suspend disbelief only partially. How could Pearl be in the river for years? Is it a metaphor? Is it an alternate universe? Is it her spirit? I can't fully explain why my reader's brain could not accept the state of Pearl in the river, but it was so distracting and in contrast with the rest of the story, it prevented me from ever immersing myself in the rest of the story.

Favorite passage: "Everything was dark: the sky, the trees, the river, her mother's jacket, creased from the journey, which seemed like it had happened so long ago."

The verdict: Despite appreciating Wood's descriptive writing, I couldn't engage with this novel's duality of realism and fairy tale. Readers who enjoy modern fairy tales will delight in it, but it didn't work for me.

Rating: 3 out of 5
Length: 304 pages
Publication date: January 19, 2016
Source: publisher

Want to read it? Buy The Weathering from Amazon (Kindle edition.)

Want more? Visit Lucy Wood's website.

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