A Student of Weather (McClelland & Stewart), Elizabeth Hay's first novel, follows a family from their Depression-era Saskatchewan farm to New York City to a comfortable neighbourhood in Ottawa. The story centres on the alienation between the two sisters of the Hardy family, who fall in love with the same man. But this is no typical romance: it spans forty-odd years and events are interlaced with musings on weather patterns and botanical detail, and it offers a sobering look at family emotions and politics. Ultimately the story is a study in selfishness. Hay's characters are both appealing and despicable, and regularly show how easy it is for ordinary people to hurt each other. They also manage to surmount the sometimes awkward and self-conscious prose of Hay's first effort at long fiction.