Right After the Weather
Happy Publication Day!
A set designer with a master’s degree, but an unsteady income, Cate, at forty-two, gets by—barely—only because her ex-husband bought her a condo and her parents still give her money. Still, she is working on Plan C which involves a new relationship with Maureen and the possibility of working with a renowned playwright and director Off-Broadway even as her old relationships simmer on the surface. Her ex-husband, Graham, separated from his third wife, has taken residence in her guest room and spends his days online discussing conspiracy theories, while she can’t shed feelings for Dana who is firmly committed to her girlfriend despite their passionate affair.
Cate’s singular constant is Neale, her best friend since childhood. When Cate arrives at Neale’s house to pick her up for a yoga class and sees her being brutally attacked, Cate responds with equal savagery. That moment of violence ripples through all Cate’s relationships, challenging her very assumptions about herself and her closest confidants.
Right after the Weather is highly character driven and low on plot, but the writing is spectacular, and the themes are thought-provoking. Set in the fall of 2016 and spring of 2017, the characters grapple with Trump’s victory and the associated issues it raised.
That Cate is in theater as a set designer shows an interesting profession but more than that, the act of designing a set can be seen to parallel that of presenting a particularly curated face, one that Cate has to defend when her story becomes public. Faced with such a clear delineation between before and after, Cate, Neale, and the other characters in their orbit must renegotiate not only what they mean to each other, but their very identities.
For fans of Ottessa Moshfegh, Binnie Kirshenbaum, and Jen Beagin.
Thanks to NetGalley and Atria Books for providing an advance reading copy in exchange for an honest review.