Saturday, 17 January 2009

The Weather in the Streets

Olivia's marriage has broken down for reasons not fully explained. After a chance meeting on a train with Rollo, an old family friend, she embarks on a passionate affair with him. Rollo is married to the neurotic and beautiful Nicola. There are lots of secret trysts in pubs, restaurants and nightclubs. Rollo tells Olivia that he does not have sexual relations with his wife and Olivia believes him. Until things start to go wrong ...

Lehmann's waspish humour reminded me a lot of Nancy Mitford although her prose is more complex and requires some degree of concentration. The Weather in the Streets is also a darker book than, say, The Pursuit of Love. There were little details I really liked; Olivia's white satin dress, Rollo's beloved labrador, Lucy, Rollo's eccentric sister, Marigold, and Olivia's fabulous flatmate, Etty, who speaks like this:

Darling, it's too unfortunate I'm dining out and there isn't a bite in the house. I never dreamed there was soul left in London, but Jack rang up this morning, he's stuck in
an office all this month. What can we do? It would be too unkind, wouldn't it, to desert him at the last minute?
Today's Guardian has a supplement called 1000 Novels Everyone Must Read. Volume 1 is Love and features two novels by Rosamond Lehmann, The Weather in the Streets and The Echoing Grove.

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