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.