Right After the Weather by Carol Anshaw

This novel with style, momentum and delightfully odd characters hides a surprise emotional wallop in its middle.

Carol Anshaw (Carry the One) crafts a masterpiece of characterization and pacing with Right After the Weather, a novel of surprises. Cate, a set designer in Chicago, is a bit bumbling and hapless, but charming. A cast of similarly weird, struggling but lovable friends surrounds her. Her ex-husband, Graham, has moved in following his latest divorce, with a perfectly wonderful dog and with all his conspiracy theories, agoraphobia, fancy mail-order meals and “hemp and unbleached cotton, drawstring closures.” Her best friend Neale is a comfort, with her wholesome do-it-yourself skills and dear son. Cate’s new girlfriend, Maureen, appears to be just what she’s been looking for–financially secure, “encyclopedic in matters of fixing things”–but there’s something a bit off. Cate’s former lover Dana is the opposite: the wrong thing, but entirely, overwhelmingly magnetic. Cate’s and Neale’s parents are each complicated and intriguing on their own.

Anshaw weaves a delightful tapestry, often laugh-out-loud hilarious, as Cate and the rest fumble through their lives. Halfway through the story, however, the tone changes abruptly when trauma strikes, and Cate must learn to navigate a new version of herself. Right After the Weather is smart and filled with the sort of evocative details Cate infuses into the sets she designs. It is compelling: once invested, the reader is hard pressed to turn away (so schedule a free evening for this one!). And it is populated by charisma and natural stars.

This review originally ran in the October 4, 2019 issue of Shelf Awareness for Readers. To subscribe, click here, and you’ll receive two issues per week of book reviews and other bookish news.

Rating: 8 fun-sized Snickers.

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