The Weatherhouse by Nan Shepherd was first published in 1930 and it seems to be something of a Scottish classic, although I must admit that I hadn’t heard of Nan Shepherd until it was on the news that she was going to be featuring on the new £5 Bank of Scotland note. Jack read this book before me and he seems to have enjoyed it a lot more than I did. I do however really like the book cover!
The setting is a very small town called Fetter-Rothnie in north-east Scotland during World War 1. Captain Garry Forbes has returned home from the front, he’s had some terrible experiences there, including the death of his best friend David Grey. When he realises that Louise (Louie) Morgan (the late minister’s daughter) is claiming that she was engaged to David Grey, Garry is incensed. He knows it isn’t true and it feels like the memory of his friend is being besmirched. Louisa is using his death to give her a sense of importance within the community, a dead love being better than no love at all. She’s a compulsive liar and thief so has never been popular.
Garry becomes obsessed with getting Louisa to admit that she’s lying, but most of the inhabitants are happy to let Louisa have her moment in the limelight and believe what Louisa says.
The Weatherhouse of the title is a house full of women, three generations of them and Garry is in love with Lindsay Lorimer, who is related to the women in the house, but his obsession is getting in the way of their relationship.
I was fairly underwhelmed by this book from a storyline point of view, in fact when I got to about page 80 I asked Jack when the book was going to get interesting and he just gave me A LOOK! Each to their own I thought!
Yes it is well written, quite poetic at times, but crucially for me all those female characters weren’t well enough drawn and as a result I never felt that I cared much about what happened to them – or didn’t.
I’m the sort of reader that really inhabits a book as I read it, but as there was nobody in this one whose company I was keen to be in – it wasn’t for me. I seem to be unusual in this as the book has been called ‘Spellbinding’ by Ali Smith. Mind you I’m never led to love anything just because I’m told to!
If you want to read what Jack thought of this one have a look here. For him, it’s almost a rave review.