Cover Image: The Weather Woman

The Weather Woman

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Member Reviews

Sometimes it feels like novel ideas are like the proverbial buses - you wait a long time for one and when it does, several other follow in quick succession. That's a little how it felt going into The Weather Woman - historical fiction, with a protagonist that has a special 'gift', a heavy leaning towards automata and a cast of richly drawn 'quirky' characters with a tendency to be out of their time. That set-up could have been referring to The Second Sight of Zachery Cloudesely, which came out a few months ago, and - a little less directly - The Clockwork Girl, released a few months before that. Once all that is able to be put side, however, it's easy to fall for the world Gardner has created, even at its most whimsical. This is a thoroughly easy and immersive read that invites full suspension of disbelief. Recommended.

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The Weather Woman is set at the start of the 19th century in London. It is historical fiction but without actual historical characters or events apart from the Ice Fairs which took place when the Thames froze over. 3 year old Neva is suddenly orphaned and finds a new home with Victor who shares her Russian heritage. Even at this young age Neva understands the weather, sees colours in the clouds which foretell what is to come and can 'sing the rain'. Victor delights in educating Neva who has an imaginary friend Eugene Jonas. As Neva gets older Eugene becomes increasingly important to her existence as a young woman who does not wish to be trapped by the expectations of society.
This lovely novel is more than Neva's story however. It is the story of many characters who have been failed by family and/or society and have then found their true role and real love and friendship. The book is certainly character driven and the relationships between the characters are strong.
I really enjoyed reading this novel and appreciated the attention to detail in the characters and the debates about meteorology and the role of women in this period.

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I think this is one of the strangest books I’ve ever read, totally absorbing and captures the mood of London in the 18th century. There are some very disturbing bits, some beautiful parts and some lovely romantic stories as well as some cross- dressing as our heroine discovers her true self.

Overall I’d recommend this book to anyone who fancies a bit of history and a thought provoking read.

Thank you to Netgalley the author and publishers for an ARC in exchange for an honest review

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I absolutely loved this book! So different, so intriguing and so beautifully written - I was in every page, I knew all the characters and I somehow managed ,’not’ to look at the last page! Neva, an orphan child with a rare gift for being able to correctly predict the weather, is adopted by Victor who recognises her talent but also her vulnerability. We are back in the early eighteen hundreds where men’s fashion begins to change from breeches to trousers - I loved these little snippets of history! Victor builds the Weather Woman for Neva to hide behind whilst she predicts when the Thames will freeze over, when fog will engulf the city, when it will rain! However, life for a woman such as Neva is hard and so with the help of good friends she disguises herself and becomes two people! Gambling on her predictions brings out the worst in people and a tangled web of intrigue evolves causing Neva, her family, her friends, the solicitors, the boatmen untold problems! Will there be a happy ending, will Neva and her friends find lasting happiness despite the evil scullduggery of certain unpleasant characters! Oh you just ‘have’ to read this wonderful story for yourself!

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"The weather is not just what we are subjected to outside, he thinks, we carry it within us. Passion, love, despair, male or female, it fogs all rational thought."

The Weather Woman is one of those historical romances (both in the sense of a love story and a heightened, not entirely naturalistic form of reality) that incorporates present-day concerns and mores into the trappings of the past. The central character Neva, who can predict the weather by "walking the clouds" and singing the rain, talks about how the weather is influenced by human activity, how people need to see it and themselves as a web of living activity and not a mechanism. But nobody wants to hear this, and her foster father fears she'll be laughed at, exploited, or thought mad. So he creates a mechanical woman to make her predictions, which becomes a sensation. Yet Neva chafes at the turning of her talent into entertainment rather than the life-saving information it could be. And she also chafes at her limitations as a woman, and devises an alternate identity that gives her freedom but also leads her into danger.

It was a fine romp through an oft-visited time and place from a rather unusual point of view. The love story was a case of love at first sight, followed by agonizingly unnecessary separation and obstacles, which is not my favorite romance trope, so I wish that could have been different. At times the story rattled on too much from incident to incident, and I wished for more depth. But otherwise I enjoyed spending time with Neva and her found family, and found satisfaction in their happy ending.

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I wasn't entirely sure what to expect with this novel: I'll confess I've not been overwhelmed by her previous adult novels, and the setting can be a bit cliched. However, I was wrong. I was taken aback and delighted. The simplicity of Gardner's narration really works, and I loved the way that apparently predictable characters/tropes were turned round.

Ultimately, this isn't a novel about magic, or even about neurodiversity. It is, above all, about love.

Recommended.

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This story is full of atmosphere, and engages from the offset. A tale of orphans, fortunes gained and lost, love and friendship held together by characters as richly drawn as in any Dickens novel, with sympathetic weather to boot. The weather woman is a gift, real or just a trick of entertaining machines? The phenomenon takes nineteenth century London by storm, the truth behind it a mystery to most. A remarkable young woman is at the centre of all this, making her mark on those who meet her, changing beliefs and shaking up society’s norms.
I loved this book, and was desperate to plough through, but didn’t want it to end. The characters are so richly drawn and some of the writing is pure poetry. Nature’s uncontrollable force, and wild ways are shown to be, if not controllable, then at least surmountable and possibly predicted. We are kept guessing to the very end as to the survival of the good, and the defeat of evil.

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Neva has a unique talent - she can predict the weather. However 19th century London is no place for a woman of her talents and inclinations.

This was a fresh idea and I greatly enjoyed the writing. Life in regency London with its sights and sounds, restrictions and attractions are beautifully drawn.

Neva initially has to hide her talent and uses her fathers automatons to bring the Weather Woman to the drawing rooms of London society. She longs for more and wishes to be able to learn and express her theories with the freedom of a man.

I was really interested in how this book portrayed gender fluidity as Neva becomes Eugene to move freely in society as a man does. I felt this gave the book a more modern resonance despite its 19th century setting

The cast of characters was great - charming, eccentric, single minded or depraved - they all helped build a rich world - one that I would think about even when I put the book down.

Special mention for Henri, a man ahead of his time in allowing Neva to be herself. Must confess I fell a little in love with him myself.

A great read with fabulous historical details, fantasy and a good dollop of romance.

Huge thanks to NetGalley and Head of Zeus for the chance to read an advance copy

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A charming regency novel is full of magic, and vivid enchanting characters who push the social, gender, and cultural boundaries of their time.

Little orphan Neva finds a new home with a sad clockmaker. He is a man of science and agrees with the importance of young women having a breadth of knowledge and, unlike many fathers who see the education of girls as unnecessary, he takes enormous pleasure in educating his daughter. Neva also has a gift, an extraordinary ability accurately to foretell the weather. She also thinks she’s been born into the wrong time, not necessarily the wrong sex.

A beautifully written story full of warmth with inventive and special protagonists.

Love it!

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A wonderful novel. ooh I loved this. Quite magical and Christmassy in a way with the frost fairs.
A woman who can predict the weather - well men don't like this of course. She goes against the grain and it's wonderful to read.

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A fascinating regency novel that plays with gender in a gorgeous historical romance. Sally Gardner, as ever, writes brilliantly- so this is a great read

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I really liked the concept for this one, is different from usual historical fiction books. And I really liked the character Neva, when she was a strong woman going against society ideals... until she started to change. However, the mix of genres, the pace and especially the contemporary writing style weren't my cup of tea and made the story less believable. I wish I could have enjoyed this one more.

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An intriguing novel about a strong-willed character who has a talent for predicting the weather. It's set in London in the late 18th and early 19th centuries with an emphasis on the Frost Fairs (when the Thames used to freeze over).

The main character, Neva, finds that the only way she can be taken seriously and have the career she wants is to dress as a male alter ego, Eugene. Her adoptive father makes clockwork and automatons; together they invent a machine which seems to predict the weather. But what happens when Neva falls in love? And what problems will her talents cause?

I would describe this book as a mixture of historical, romance and fantasy. I felt that the themes and dialogue were too politically correct and contemporary with our times to make this novel a believable work of historical fiction. It was an unusual read but turned out to be not quite my cup of tea. I'm sure there are many readers who will enjoy it, however.

[Review will be on my blog, 8th November]

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Gambling dens and wagers, courtship and romance, society scandal and intrigue abound in this period piece set in Regency England – where science meets the supernatural.

Enter our protagonist – a woman blessed with the ability to forecast the weather accurately via an automaton – a moving mechanical device resembling a living creature.

It’s a well-written drama that captures the culture, sights and sounds of the period. Conversely, feminism, gender fluidity and what feels like a nod to <i>The Queen’s Gambit</i> combine to provide a little contemporary flavour.

A strong recommendation for my Book Club and Year 12 pupils!

My thanks to NetGalley and, as ever, Head of Zeus for granting this e-ARC in exchange for an honest review.

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I loved this fresh, original idea. I was completely immersed in the time period and so different from the usual Regency stories. Neva is a wonderful main character, full of spark and wit and I over the romance element too. Would highly recommend.

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This is a real page turner and the character of Neva is well portrayed. I have read other books by Sally Gardner, and though they were good, this is the best novel so far. She has a fresh and original style of writing, in my opinion, and I mean that as a compliment, accompanied by historical research which is excellent. This author keeps on getting better, and I highly recommend the book.

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