A simple story with a surprisingly poignant ending, this little book is the definition of perfection.
Publisher: Persephone Books
First Published: 1932
Date Reviewed: 30th January 2011
Dolly is getting married today and the family have arrived to be there. But Dolly’s not sure about the day’s events, and, neither it seems, is someone else.
Cheerful Weather For The Wedding was my first Persephone book, I am happy to say I picked it out myself from their fabulous little shop in London from the piles of books, not knowing what it was about but being intrigued by the title. I just knew that it was “the one”, and that I should buy it as my second choice besides The Victorian Chaise-Longue, which was the book I visited the shop for. Be sure that I will write a post on the shop itself later.
I actually started the first several pages of the book twice, once on the day I bought it, and then again on the day I devoted a couple of hours to read and finish it, because the beginning is slow. I soon found out that I had wasted time by starting it twice as after the initial introduction, Strachey quickly dives into the comedy.
“We heard about the practices of the Minoan Islanders upon reaching the age of puberty at the last one.” He started snapping up his cutlet.
“Oh really? How terribly interesting!” said Kitty.
“Yes, very. Like to hear about them?” offered Joseph.
“Kitty, dear child! Kitty! Kitty! Open the window a trifle at the top, will you! The air gets so terribly stuffy in here always!” cried out Mrs. Thatcham very loudly.
The beauty of the novella is that an author can deliver a story quickly without having to worry about detailing the characters or their backgrounds. This is exactly what Strachey does and it provides her with ample time to use in making the reader laugh. The book is hilarious. Strachey introduces us to a plethora of characters that are very individual and ridiculous whilst at the same time being realistic. To mention just a few, there is the elder brother who is obsessed about his younger brother’s sock choice (this is technically bullying but the younger child stands up for himself and it’s the “I’m-better-than-you” nature of children that makes it funny), the mother who is a little crazy and ever forgetful, and the cousin who speaks nonsense.
The company soon understood that the young man was attacked by a fit of the giggles, and all looked surprised; excepting Evelyn, to whom giggles and laughter were as water is to a fish. And so, although not understanding very exactly what was the matter, she joined in now with Joseph immediately.
What’s interesting is that there is no main character. You could say that Dolly is the main character, but it’s more a case of her being the reason – when it comes to the amount of time spent on her there is just as much as there is the group of characters downstairs. The book may (basically) be about her and the climax may be about her, but I personally found her memorable for being different, more serious than the rest.
Strachey wrote a book that takes so little time to read and yet it kept me completely enthralled and interested. It’s a wonderful thing that Persephone Books decided to publish it and easy to see why it is now one of their most-sought after novellas. I cannot recommend it enough.
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February 16, 2011, 7:20 pm
I’m glad you enjoyed your first Persephone. I haven’t read this one yet but it sounds great. And I hope I’ll get a chance to go to the Persephone shop one day!
Charlie: If you have the chance, yes, go! It’s just something else.
February 16, 2011, 10:01 pm
Like Helen I haven’t read this one yet, but I’m also glad your first experience with a Persephone was a good one! Looking forward to your post on the shop itself.
Charlie: I am now concerned that my next choice should be good, maybe I should ask for recommendations in the shop post…