The Weather in the Streets
Life doesn’t work out as you planned. This is the central, completely non-judgmental message of Rosamond Lehmann’s tender narrative of an extramarital affair in shabby 30s London. The Weather in the Streets, which Virago publisher Carmen Callil described as ‘the Bridget Jones’ Diary,’ for her generation, was passed secretly around female friends for years; it dealt not only with a taboo subject but allowed the reader an almost embarrassing level of full and unfettered access to the thoughts of the heroine, Olivia Curtis. Rosamond Lehmann originally introduced Olivia to the world in her earlier novel Invitation to the Waltz but here she appears older, harder and wiser- though not as wise as she is by the end of the book.
Interestingly, this is one of the first coming-of-age novels that doesn’t treat growing up as something that only happens in adolescence- in this respect, it foreshadows much later romantic novels like David Nicholls’ One Day, which are less afraid to acknowledge that we can spend our twenties and even thirties wrapped in cocoons of denial and self-delusion that stop us making the right choices. This is a convincing novel about a love affair, but it’s also one about someone, slightly late in life, becoming an adult in a world that didn’t actually make it easy for women to grow up at all.