Cover Image: The Weather Woman

The Weather Woman

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Member Reviews

3.75

I don't think I have ever read anything quite like this. A historical fiction novel, with an interesting fantasy twist. Personally, I thought it worked well. It was almost the best of both worlds for me. I love a good historical setting and having a magical element was fun. The writing could have been a bit stronger as far as characterization and plot are concerned, but other than that it was a great story!

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Thanks to Netgalley and the publisher for an ARC of this book. I have chosen to write this honest review voluntarily and it reflects my personal opinion.
This book is set against historic weather records when the Thames froze, linked to the factual idea that weather can be foretold, in part, from cloud types and formations and includes realistic views about the place of women in society. The story of Neva is entirely fictional and has elements of the supernatural mixed with imagination. The descriptions of the extreme weather are written very well, it's so easy to imagine the extremes of cold and fog experienced in those days. The individual characters are so interesting and their linked love stories are superb, even that of Aubrey. It would be wonderful if the weather could be forecast like this ...!
This book is a genre all of it's own and I thought it was absolutely fascinating and look forward to reading more books by this author.

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Set in Regency England, this is the tale of Neva and her amazing ability to predict the weather. Not in the way someone might say, ‘It’s going to rain tomorrow,’ but in absolute detail, to the exact time. I really don’t want to say any more than that about the plot because to do so would be to give it away, and I don’t want to spoil the book for anyone. Suffice to say that the characters are well rounded and I connected with them. I wanted to know what was going to happen to them.
Many thanks to the author, publisher and NetGalley for an ARC in exchange for an honest review.

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Absolutely loved this adult book by the endlessly creative and interesting writer Sally Gardner. I've read most of her books for children and young adults and she's the only writer I can think of who has a style and voice that changes yet is powerful and perfectly pitched in every book that she writes. There is no typical 'Gardner' book because each one is unique! The characters in The Weather Woman are so well drawn. By the end I was sad to leave the rich world that she had created. Part historical novel part fantasy/magic realism this story of a woman born before 'her time' and the people that love her swept me along and kept me hanging on every chapter.

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Neva is able to predict the weather and she does this during the ice fairs on the Thames in the 1700s. A very different and unique book that I enjoyed.

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This was a really interesting take on Regency times, and I liked the whole disguise element to this. Just wasn't fully gripped by the writing style, however.

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4 stars

A very different book. Our heroine is able to psychically interpret the weather. She does this from with a box at a fair ground like situation. I felt the book was aimed a bit towards the younger audience

I voluntarily read and reviewed an advanced copy of this book. All thoughts and opinions are my own.

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Historical fiction is far from my favourite genre but for Sally Gardener I will always be willing to make an exception. Main protagonist Neva is a strong, intelligent woman, qualities that in regency times were definitely not valued in ‘the fairer sex’. I am fascinated by the London frost fairs that feature in the story and I found the book to be fast paced with strong themes of feminism, family (both blood and found) and nature versus nurture. A top read in my opinion.

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Such an interesting premise right up my alley. I don't usually care for Regency England historical fiction - I prefer Victorian - but the author created such a multifaceted world with vivid imagery. This has a little bit of everything - mysticism, magical realism, history, science, supernatural, My pet peeve in historical fiction is unrealistically applying 21st century values and social norms to earlier time periods, and there is some of that here with Henri and Neva. The book could have used an editor and a good chop - it could have easily lost 100-200 pages without suffering.

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This has been catalogued as science fiction by my library system, but I’d be more likely to describe it as historical fiction with a touch of magic realism, similar to The Mermaid and Mrs Hancock or Things in Jars. I loved the way the action is bookended by the frost fairs of 1789 and 1814. There’s a whiff of the fairy tale in the setup: when we meet Neva, she’s a little girl whose parents operate one of the fair’s attractions, a chess-playing bear. She knows, like no one else seems to, that the ice is shifting and it’s not safe to stay by the Thames. When the predicted tragedy comes, she’s left an orphan and adopted by Victor Friezland, a clockmaker who shares her Russian heritage. He lives in a wonderfully peculiar house made out of ship parts and, between him, Neva, the housekeeper Elise, and other servants, friends and neighbours, they form a delightful makeshift family.

Neva predicts the weather faultlessly, even years ahead. It’s somewhere between synaesthetic and mystical, this ability to hear the ice speaking and see what the clouds hold. While others in their London circle engage in early meteorological prediction, her talent is different. Victor decides to harness it as an attraction, developing “The Weather Woman” as first an automaton and then a magic lantern show, both with Neva behind the scenes giving unerring forecasts. At the same time, Neva brings her childhood imaginary friend to life, dressing in men’s clothing and appearing as Victor’s business partner, Eugene Jonas, in public.

These various disguises are presented as the only way that a woman could be taken seriously in the early 19th century. Gardner is careful to note that Neva does not believe she is, or seek to become, a man; “She thinks she’s been born into the wrong time, not necessarily the wrong sex. As for her mind, that belongs to a different world altogether.” (Whereas there is a trans character and a couple of queer ones; it would also have been interesting for Gardner to take further the male lead’s attraction to Eugene Jonas.)

London charms here despite its Dickensian (avant la lettre) grime – mudlarks and body snatchers, gambling and trickery, gloomy pubs and shipwrecks, weaselly lawyers and high-society soirees. The plot moves quickly and holds a lot of surprises and diverting secondary characters. While the novel could have done with some trimming – something I’d probably say about the majority of 450-pagers – I remained hooked and found it fun and racy. You’ll want to stick around for a terrific late set-piece on the ice. Gardner had a career in theatre costume design before writing children’s books. I’ll also try her teen novel, I, Coriander.

[Two potential anachronisms: “Hold your horses” (p. 202) and calling someone “a card” (p. 209) – both slang uses that more likely date from the 1830s or 1840s.]

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This was a really entertaining read: a book with heart. I loved the characters and the world created by an unusual found family and the context of regency London and the scientific debates of the time and the details of the last frost fairs. A really interesting plot to top it all! many thanks to Netgalley for an arc of this book.

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An intriguing historical novel with some really unique characters and points of view. Sometimes a little slow, but overall enchanting.

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A great piece of historical fiction set around the Thames frost fairs of the 18th century. Neva, a young girl with an extraordinary gift of being able to predict approaching weather, is orphaned and taken in by a generous benefactor. Her abilities are considered outlandish for a person of her gender and to aid her in her quest to help the community, Victor who is a renowned clockmaker creates a machine for her identity to remain private. In some ways this creates a barrier to her leading a normal and full life.

Thanks to Netgalley, the author and publishers for a gifted copy of this book in return for an honest review.

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The Weather Woman is an original regency era novel which is just magical and beautifully structured. It has so much depth it's a very compelling read.

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I always find myself enjoying novels set in this period. Things feel more dynamic and exuberant than Victorian era novels.

In this novel that is quite charming we have a vast of characters ranging from loveable to notorious rogues. I found Neva's story and her character completely delightful. There were some very outlandish plot points, but I found myself happily going where the author took me. There was something of the fairytale to the story, something fabulist...and there was a bet about swallowing a large fish whole. What more could one ask for?

My thanks to netgalley and the publisher for a copy of the book in exchange for an honest review.

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Readers will be dazzled by Sally Gardner’s magical historical novel, The Weather Woman.

In Regency England, single women should have only one objective in mind: matrimony. Making a suitable match and securing the arm of a wealthy bachelor is the number one priority for most gentlewomen, except for one notable exception: Neva Friezland. Neva is a woman with an inquisitive mind, an extraordinary intellect and an unusual gift: the ability to predict the weather. A woman who doesn’t conform to the rigid rules of society is considered to be very dangerous indeed and in order to protect herself Neva has adopted a sophisticated male disguise that enables her to foretell the weather from inside an automaton created by her clockmaker father.

Neva thinks that nobody will ever discover her secret. Her disguise keeps her safe and protected – until her heart is put in jeopardy when she falls in love with a charismatic young man. What is Neva going to do now? She cannot risk anyone finding out her secret nor does she want to let this chance at happiness slip through her fingers. Neva might be able to predict the weather tomorrow, but not even she could possibly foretell what is going to happen next!

The Weather Woman is a veritable treat for the senses. Lyrical, visceral and colourful, this brilliantly told and superbly written historical tale brims with brio, vigour and style and takes readers away from Almack’s and the marriage mart and into a world of an independent and idiosyncratic woman striving to find her voice and her own place in the world.

Sally Gardner is a hugely gifted writer and in The Weather Woman has written an exceptional, engaging and enjoyable historical novel readers will not want to miss.

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This was such an inspiring read! Well written, well researched, with a magical twist, this book was fascinating from start to finish. Thank you for the ARC!

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If you're looking for a charming and original read, look no further than Sally Gardner's "The Weather Woman". I absolutely adored this book and Neva, the fierce and determined protagonist who has to navigate a man's world. The plot is almost fantastical for its time, with the inclusion of an automaton, but Gardner's writing makes it all seem perfectly plausible. I loved the diversity of London that the book portrays, especially with Neva's Russian background. The depiction of misogyny women faced back then is unfortunately still relevant today, and the disguise Neva adopts is a testament to the resilience of women.

With so many well-developed peripheral characters, including Henri and Neva's adoptive family, "The Weather Woman" is a whimsical yet truly wonderful read that I won't forget anytime soon. Gardner's writing style is poetic and enchanting, making the book an engaging and immersive experience. I highly recommend this book to anyone looking for a unique and captivating historical fiction. It's a story of love, loss, and resilience that will stay with you long after you've turned the last page.

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So beautiful, well written and unique.
it did take me a while to read but I enjoyed every page. Definitely recommend

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amazing book from an amazing author, i loved the river thames freezing over elements and the frost fairs as well as the central plot. sally gardner's latest offering was wonderful to read and she is one of my favourite authors.

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