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Stormy Weather: A Novel Hardcover

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 352 pages
  • Publisher: William Morrow; 1 edition (May 8, 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0060537329
  • ISBN-13: 978-0060537326
  • Product Dimensions: 9.2 x 6.3 x 1.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (26 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,631,613 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Jiles's eloquent, engaging sophomore novel celebrates four strong women toughing out the Great Depression in the Texas dust bowl. As the book opens in 1927, Elizabeth Stoddard and husband Jack have three daughters: the pretty Mayme, the tomboyish Jeanine and the writerly Bea. Jeanine, resented for being daddy's favorite, soon becomes the novel's primary point of view. After the disgraced Jack dies in 1937, the four Stoddard women move back to the 150-acre homeplace on the Brazos River in Central Texas. Drought, hail and dust storms, land-tax debts and grinding poverty make life a struggle; radio shows, horse-racing, wildcat oil well speculation and stuttering news reporter friend Milton Brown provide diversions. Jeanine falls in love with local rancher Ross Everett; Mayme dates soldier Vernon. Visceral detail of the 1930s rancher life and the hardscrabble setting add authenticity, particularly in the characters' feel for horses. While forthright, some of the dialogue is less than believable (as when Ross compliments Jeanine on her "furious bloody purple" dress), but it serves the characters' greater-than-usual emotional bandwidth. Jiles winds this gritty saga up on the eve of WWII with a patchwork quilt's worth of hope. (May)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

From Booklist

In her second novel, following the acclaimed Enemy Women (2002), Jiles proves herself an exceptional writer. This stirring story of four women--Elizabeth Stoddard and her three daughters, Mayme, Jeanine, and Bea--struggling to survive during the Depression is set against a barren Texas landscape, still suffering the effects of a long drought and devastating dust storms. The Stoddards, having followed their charming patriarch, Jack, from one oil field to another, must now cope with his death from a gas leak. His love of gambling and liquor has left them destitute; they return to their long-abandoned family farm, where they face a hefty bill for back taxes. Jack's one legacy is an underfed racehorse named Smoky Joe. Jeanine, smart and practical, is forced to sell the horse to cover their debts but takes a percentage of his winnings; meanwhile, her mom invests in a wildcat oil well. The lack of money, though, never detracts from the Stoddards' dignity. Jiles conveys their sense of self and of home in language as spare and stark as the Texas landscape. Joanne Wilkinson
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved

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Customer Reviews

It dragged in many places.
S. Jensen
Because Jiles handles the English language, her characters, and the unfolding mysteries of their lives like a master craftswoman.
Laurie Wagner Buyer
I settled on Stormy Weather ...and wow.
L. Richards

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

13 of 14 people found the following review helpful By John C. Wiegard VINE VOICE on May 13, 2007
Format: Hardcover
Jiles is a brilliant storyteller and a careful craftsman of detail and dialog. She tells a memorable tale here of a Texas family in the Great Depression who lose their husband and father to drink and gambling and are forced to survive without him, somehow.

Quarter horses race down a track at sunset, and the winner pelts the face of the loser with gravel and dirt from his pounding hooves. A well strikes oil, sending pieces of the rig into the sky, as onlookers scream with joy and run like hell. A tough, widower rancher courts a twenty year old girl, and when he says "you're messin with me again" it is the most romantic thing ever said.

Do not wait for the beach trip to read this one at a single sitting. I think it is one of the sleeper hits of the season- it reminds me of Sara Gruen's "Water for Elephants"- another colorful story of the dark days of the 1930s. Get it now.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By voraciousreader1 on September 17, 2007
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Lately I've read so many novels that have disappointed. Not this one! While the subject matter didn't appear to be something I'd be interested in (I'm not one for "a girl and her horse" stories), I'm glad that I listened to the reviews here and bought this book.

It's the story of 3 girls, and their mother and father set in Texas during the Great Depression of the 1930s. The father's a ner-do-well whose death leaves the mother and the girls with few options, but to retreat to a broken down ranch house and try to make a living.

Their story is moving, wry, and poignant. It's beautifully written; each word chosen precisely and carefully - a pleasure to read. The descriptions are lyrical, the characters are memorable, particularly Jeanine, the middle sister. She tells her horse Smokey Joe, that he's "a rocket," but the same could be said of her!

This memorable book is a keeper.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By J. Lavilla Havelin on August 12, 2007
Format: Hardcover
With all the heartbreaking precision of a Walker Evans photograph, Paulette Jiles' second novel, STORMY WEATHER, tells the story of the Stoddard women in the oil fields of East Texas during the Great Depression, their trials and their triumph. As in her deeply moving first novel, ENEMY WOMEN which was set during the Civil War, Jiles' gift for creating vibrant characters, characters we come to care about, is remarkable. And her ability to weave history, fiction, and grounded place develops a tension in the paragraphs that is staggering.

Jeanine Stoddard, something of a tomboy, charged with covering up her drunken womanizing father's misdeeds, and blamed by her sisters and mother for protecting him is the emotional heart of the novel. Her slow to develop romance with widowed rancher Ross Everett, her dogged determination to save the family farm in the face of the dust bowl, and her hopes and dreams pinned on a racehorse named Smoky Joe, is a character of such pluck and promise, such a wide-eyed, innocent embrace of the world around her that she captivates the reader.

The broadened canvas of history, geography, and popular culture, with remarkable writing about oil rigs and
horses, does not detract from or dilute the story - rather, it takes this episodic and cinematic vision and gives it a bed on which all the stories settle. There are many instances in STORMY WEATHER where the movement from public history to personal story is so seamless one recalls Doctorow's RAGTIME. The risk, of course, is that we, modern readers, invited to deconstruct this way, will bring our rich bag of reference points to that Great Depression - classic, cliched, and captured in real voices or pictures, and see whether Jiles adds anything to already crowded territory.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Cindy W. Bonner on June 9, 2008
Format: Hardcover
San Antonio writer Paulette Jiles is a poet first, and it shows in her imagery and in the cadence of her sentences. They have an almost musical lilt: "A pouring wave of sheep fled down a hillside, answering some unheard call, and the dense bank of clouds to the northeast told of a windstorm to come."

"Stormy Weather" is the second novel for Jiles, after her critically acclaimed Civil War novel, "Enemy Woman." This one is a quieter novel, more tuned in to the brutal dust bowl landscape of West Texas, and to the hungry, threadbare people living through the Great Depression. They wear wedding gowns made from old draperies, and repair their roofs with crushed tin cans instead of shingles.

The story is built around Jeanine Stoddard, a strong, tomboyish young woman, who almost single-handedly carries her family through the hardest years. Jeanine is the middle daughter, beloved and trusted by her no-account father, Jack Stoddard. In the opening chapters Jeanine is a mere 9-year-old girl, but already she's driving her drunken father home from a night of hell-raising and womanizing. Jiles makes no missteps here, bringing Jeanine and the whole Stoddard clan to life along with Texas in the 1930s.

Even with World War II looming in Europe, wildcat oil strikes happen just often enough to keep the population believing in better times. The oil boom brings tragedy to the Stoddard family when Jack is killed by "sour gas," but later on the boom redeems itself when Mrs. Stoddard invests their hard-earned money in an old, dry well that a new driller reworks. The description of that well coming in are some of the best in the book. I was rattled by the earth-shaking blow-out just as if I were there, watching in awe with the otheres as the oil geysered into the blue West Texas sky.
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