Yesterday’s Weather is a book of short stories, written over the course of 19 years, by Anne Enright, the winner of the 2007 Man Booker Prize for The Gathering. The book has 31 stories, most of them with a very distinct Irish flavor and mostly set in Ireland. Mostly the stories tell relatively mundane but skillfully crafted and beautifully told tales of daily life
Enright is an excellent observer. The characters in her tales grapple with marital strife, infidelity, the strain of motherhood and other challenges, and Enright masterfully describes the multiple injuries – minor or large – suffered while shouldering these burdens in a precise and enlightening manner. Her descriptions often feel like they cut into the situations and characters at the same time as her ability to characterize makes the characters seem alive, understandable and sometimes fragile. Also, the author has an uncanny ability to tweak ordinary situations in intriguing ways.
Even though many of the stories in Yesterday’s Weather are gloomy, I enjoyed them a great deal. Enright is a sly and scintillating examiner of the human condition, and these are cleverly told tales. Many are based on observations of situations which most readers will have encountered in their own lives, and are communicated with references that may enhance recognition, recollection and identification. As a result, Anne Enright’s beautiful prose and clever interpretations often resonate deeply with her readers.
The stories I personally liked most were perhaps how two wives came to different conclusions about their husbands’ infidelities in “Until the Girl Died” and “The Portable Virgin”. I also loved the tightly focused stories “Little Sister” and “Felix”.
I liked some of the stories more than others, of course, but overall I was delighted with this collection of excellent and sometimes edgy stories. However, many of the stories may seem quite dark, so this is not a book to be read in one sitting – then, I think, the melancholy would be somewhat overwhelming. Rather, I enjoyed one or two stories (some of the stories are very short) at a time. Read this way, I savored the beautiful writing style and observations. The prose is really brilliant, Yesterday’s Weather is definitely well worth checking out!