Sunday, August 22, 2010

Cheerful Weather for the Wedding by Julia Strachey

It's dreary here in Brooklyn, and if I hadn’t already, it would be a perfect day to read Cheerful Weather for the Wedding. Perfect because it is set on a galing day in England, which reminds one how much worse it could be, and because it is a brisk little book filled with ridiculous characters that one is free to vigorously dislike.

I’ve been getting into these types of books recently. Often by forgotten women novelists, they provide a weird kind of escapism where I can revel in the details while indulging some misanthropy. Cheerful Weather was a gift from Amanda Well-Tailored. For precisely four B train rides into Manhattan, I was chuckling at the door of a freezing manor house instead of a stinky MTA car. Thanks, AWT!

The novella takes place on the titular wedding day of Dolly Thatcham and Owen, eight years apart. Dolly is getting wasted upstairs as the preparations go on around her, and her frequent nips from the rum bottle hidden in her voluminous dress lead inspire a kind of puttering melancholy that is fun to read about, especially if you’ve ever succumbed to such a mood yourself. The Thatcham home is filled with various family members being ridiculous, including my favorite character, chapped and puffy younger sister Kitty: “ ‘How are your lectures going?’ asked Kitty of Joseph, a kind of desperate intenseness in her voice and face. This was her style of the moment with the male sex.”

Leave the bizarre intro by Frances Partridge for after. Wouldn’t want Bloomsbury gossip and unhappy personal details to overshadow the story, would we?


Amanda said...

My favourite character is the elusive turtle...

Carrie said...

Is it ok that I used your gift to indulge in people-hating once removed?

Amanda said...