Cheerful Weather For A Wedding by Julia Strachey

Dolly knew, as she looked round at the long wedding-veil stretching away forever, and at the women, too, so busy all around her, that something remarkable and upsetting in her life was steadily going forward.

She was aware of this; but it was as if she were reading about it in a book from the circulating library, instead of herself living through it.

Cheerful Weather for A Wedding, by Julia Strachly, is an irony. With a mother ecstatically proclaiming at every turn how pretty! how cheerful! something is, how can her daughter argue? The weather is most certainly not cheerful for a wedding, not with its icy blasts tearing at the guests:

Out in the drive there, standing about round the motor-car, in the furious March gale, everyone felt as though they were being beaten on the back of the head and on the nose with heavy carpets, and having cold steel knives thrust up inside their nostrils, and when they opened their mouths to avoid the pain of this, big wads of iced cotton-wool seemed to be forced against the insides of their throats immediately, so that they choked, and could not draw any breath in.

An apt description of the weather, to be sure, but even more applicable for the way that Dolly cannot speak her mind, any more than her cheerless husband speaks his. Duty bound they are, bound by some inexplicable force which pulled them to the church before being pulled away from the wedding party.

They leave behind a most abject friend of Dolly’s named Joseph, whose tongue becoming suddenly loosed lets fly horrendous news of Dolly’s past which may or may not be true. Everyone seems to have his own agenda, one which is immune to the circumstances in which the characters find themselves.

Perhaps the most interesting quote in the whole novella is this: “Neither youth nor loveliness makes people happy. It takes something utterly different to do that.” (p. 65) What might that be? Upon further contemplation, I can’t help but wonder if honesty is the missing ingredient for true cheerfulness here.

The endpapers are a 1932 design for a printed dress fabric by Madeleine Lawrence.

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24 thoughts on “Cheerful Weather For A Wedding by Julia Strachey”

  1. “Cheerful” is something I try to avoid at all costs. The only “cheerful” people I can think of are those who think “chipper” is a good quality, too.

    “Cheerful” is that nurse that rolls in at 5 a.m. and says, “So how are WE today?” Humph.

    Which is to say: I've always experienced cheerfulness as false. Which brings us right back around to our suggestion of honesty as the antidote!

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  2. I, too, have always experienced cheerfulness as false. Something done to cover up one's true heart. Putting on a brave face, or stiff upper lip (as Parrish said). No wonder it puts us in mind of the antonym: honesty.

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  3. It is hard to become fully engaged with a novella; they're more a slice of life, really, with not much to go on when forming an overall “lesson” for one's readers. Maybe the idea is to give more of a picture than a lesson or theme. In any case, the characters in this book intrigued me even though I wasn't able to know them thoroughly.

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  4. Your mention of the ink bottlr makes me think of the bottle of rum; so much covering up and hiding was going on with that bride! It's clearly not a simple book, although a short one. I could read it several times over for each nuance.

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  5. Better to be cheerful than glum. It takes courage to be cheerful, to see the bright side of things. It's not necessarily dishonest, and it's not usually all that difficult, if we're appreciative. But, I do feel that honesty and discernment are also important.

    This book does sound intriguing and it looks lovely.

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  6. Oh, absolutely; it's much better to be cheerful than glum. I think the 'cheerfulness' this novel refers to is a false cheerfulness. Therein lies the irony, that its forced rather than natural, and that's what makes it dishonest.

    It is quite intriguing, and fairly short. I just read it Sunday afternoon, and it's given me quite a bit to think about. I hope you and others will have a chance to pick it up.

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  7. I just received your postcard from Persephone when I came home from work today; a delightful surprise, with a delightful message. So glad you could go, and hopefully, one day I'll be able to go there as well. Although I doubt I'd be able to walk out with just three books and a set of postcards! You show great restraint, Bookfool. Truly.

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  8. In rereading my comment above (“I've always experienced cheerfulness as false”) I realize I was a little over zealous. Not always. I, too, am a cheerful person (so to speak) making it a point to spread encouragement through smiles and hope. I think I should have said I dislike a facade of cheerfulness instead.

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  9. I knew what you meant! But I do think it was ironically used in the title. Such a good, though uncomfortable, look at wedding mania. I have an old book on my shelf that I keep meaning to read by Anne Morrow Lindbergh called Dearly Beloved. It would be interesting to compare the two books.

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