How would you like to order up the weather, just like you order a pizza with pineapple, but no anchovies? That’s the fantasy that comes to life for Bronwyn Artair, a weather forecaster for a rural New England TV station in the novel, Weather Woman. Author Cai Emmons has created a smart, ambitious character struggling to find her place in the universe, until the universe imposes a role she never expected.
Emmons uses magical realism to explore a naive fantasy of control. Most people want to impose order in their lives, perhaps by arranging the furniture in a certain way, or sticking to a particular daily schedule. Ironically, weather is a good way to show how control is an illusion, except for Bronwyn, who can call up a sunny day or a refreshing rain shower as if selecting a new blouse. Climate change figures high in Bronwyn’s weather-related adventures; she faces down tornadoes and firestorms influenced by a warming climate, and toys with the idea of a radical solution to global warming.
Weather Woman is best read as a story about a twenty-something who can’t make lemonade out of life’s lemons.
Bronwyn feels out of control, or at least uncertain about decisions she’s made in her life. These choices often appear irrational, or at least counter-productive. Her greatest supporter is a former teacher, Diane Fenwick, who starts by wondering if Bronwyn has gone crazy by discounting a talent for science. Later, though, Diane learns that her student’s talent might save the planet. Bronwyn persuades others, including a tabloid journalist who becomes her lover, that her ability is real. However, her nascent community never coalesces. I kept expecting Bronwyn’s character to reach an apotheosis with the help of her friends, but I was left unsatisfied.
Weather Woman is best read as a story about a twenty-something who can’t make lemonade out of life’s lemons. Life is often a journey from crisis to crisis, and our attempts to smooth out the rough edges often fail. Bronwyn struggles with the mercurial nature of life, and even with her amazing power, she never really takes the reins.
The publisher provided a copy of the novel in exchange for an honest review.