The Weather and Other Gods
Francis Allen, $12.95 pb, 167 pp
Robyn Ferrell has written a novel as beguiling as champagne on a summer’ s evening – astringent, sparkling and more-ish. The fizz of dry wit comes bubbling up through layers of metaphor as Leo Wetherill (aptly named) embarks on a journey of self-discovery, alternately abetted and frustrated by the quixotic Weather Gods of the title.
Leo, ostensibly your average Australian bureaucrat, is the scientific mastermind behind Project Arable, a rain-making scheme designed to convert the Outback into green and productive pasture. But within Leo’s suit-clad breast paradoxes see the – empiricism vs poetry, utilitarianism vs aesthetics – making him prey to doubts about the wisdom of a venture which will impose a European ideal of useful domesticity on the vast red desert. Since his youth, he explains, he has been obsessed with the weather, with huge natural forces who ‘magic’ he has tried to understand through meteorology, while fearing to dispel their mystery.