Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Review: Cheerful Weather for the Wedding

I was possessed of an urge to read a Persephone book, so I wandered through the library catalogue to find one I wanted to read. Cheerful Weather for the Wedding, by Julia Strachey, sounded appealing.

It's a novella, really, about a woman named Dolly on her wedding day, and the various family members and wedding guests. The back of the book calls it a mix of Katherine Mansfield, Cold Comfort Farm, and EM Forster. I've not read Forster, and only a little Mansfield, and it's been a while since I read Cold Comfort Farm. What Cheerful Weather for the Wedding reminded me of most was Evelyn Waugh. Something about the humour of it, the subtle absurdity of events and and actions, is very Waugh to me. All the characters, too, might have walked straight out of Put Out More Flags.

One passage in particular speaks to both the similarities to Evelyn Waugh and much of what I like about this book:
'"We have seen Two Men who are willing to Throw the Bones with reference to Heaven!" recited Lob, pointing his fork upwards into the air, and rolling his r's sonorously.

What he said was merely one of the many passages he had picked up out of Joseph's anthropological textbooks, and which he was fond of reciting aloud at odd moments, and without any apparent rhyme or reason.' (pg. 30)
It's random little things like this, that people say or do, which make the story absurd without being unreal, which, actually make it more real. For all the silly little bits like this, it was a rather subdued silliness.

The title was perfect, especially once you've read enough of the book to know what it means in a less obvious sense. This may not be a book that I will remember forever, but it was a book for lovely moments--both the moments in the short period of time covered by the book, and those moments I spent reading it.

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