A few weeks ago I mentioned A Student of Weather, a novel by Elizabeth Hay. I was then 79 pages into the book, which I’ve since finished. It lived up to its early promise. It’s a beautifully written, affecting novel.
Since finishing A Student of Weather, I’ve finished one entertaining-but-not great novel and abandoned a dreary psychological novel. Now I’m into Juno and Juliet, by Irish author Julian Gough. It’s a comic novel about identical twin sisters who have arrived in Galway to attend university. The narrator, Juliet of the title, is “disappointed by the university, and vice versa.” Juliet has many things to say about her disappointment. This observation rings especially true to me:
I’d so looked forward to leaving the cultural wasteland in which I’d half-grown up, and in my last year at school I’d fever-visioned a dreamy, sunlit university-state peopled by the brightest and the best. I’d half-lived there for the final school months, it had seemed more real to me than the town outside. To get to the university and find it had fallen into barbarian hands, that its halls were full of the very peasants and savages I thought I’d left behind, still talking about how their new shoes had split on the second day, and of the TV shows they’d missed, and the terrible price of twenty cigarettes…it was a bitter blow.
Thus far, everywhere I’ve turned in this book I’ve found gems like that.