Author(s): Jenny Offill
From the author of Dept. of Speculation, a dazzling and deadpan new novel about hope and despair, fear and comfort as it plays out in these times of environmental and political turbulence.
'What are you afraid of, he asks me and the answer of course is dentistry, humiliation, scarcity, then he says what are your most useful skills? People think I'm funny'
Lizzie Benson slid into her job as a librarian without a traditional degree. But this gives her a vantage point from which to practise her other calling: as an unofficial shrink.
For years, she has supported her God-haunted mother and her recovering addict brother. They have both stabilized for the moment, but then her old mentor, Sylvia Liller, makes a proposal. Sylvia has become famous for her prescient podcast, Hell and High Water, and wants to hire Lizzie to answer the mail she receives: from left-wingers worried about climate change and right wingers worried about the decline of western civilization. As she dives into this polarized world, she begins to wonder what it means to keep tending your own garden once you've seen the flames beyond its walls.
When her brother becomes a father and Sylvia a recluse, Lizzie is forced to acknowledge the limits of what she can do. But if she can't save others, then what, or who, might save her? And all the while the voices of the city keep floating in--funny, disturbing, and increasingly mad.
MATILDA BOOKSHOP REVIEW
This is a book where the gaps and silences slowly build to reveal a city in climate collapse and a marriage in limbo. In her role as librarian, Lizzie finds that people talk to her unguardedly about all things deep and mundane. She is also holding her unravelling (mentally) brother together at the expense of her own freedoms. But the weather of the title not only refers to the catastrophic changes in weather that surrounds Lizzie, but the interior weather of the heart. Piercing and subtle both, this is one of my favourite books of the year. Molly
Shortlisted for The Women's Prize for Fiction 2020