A review of ‘Rain’ by Melissa Harrison
Why on earth would anybody want to write a book about rain? Complain about it, by all means – or predict it or avoid it – but writing about it seems perverse. Melissa Harrison not only writes about it in this book – but sets out from home, on four separate occasions, specifically in order to walk in it. In doing so, she displays a particular knack for taking the reader with her. Rain spattering on the hood of your imaginary cagoule, Melissa will chat with you as you walk – pointing out the plants bowing beneath the drops and the animals who relish, or run from, the rain. Occasionally you will stop for longer as you shelter beneath a tree, perhaps – and your knowledgeable companion will tell you about the clouds above or some wonderfully improbable device such as the leech-powered ‘Tempest Prognosticator’. (Don’t ask – you’ll have to read the book).
Melissa is making a point here, not just about the weather but about our place in the natural world:
There’s something salutary about the way our best endeavours can still be scotched by something so simple and primordial as the weather: it keeps us in our place somehow, reminds us that we are still part of the natural world.
That point is made with charm, intrigue and a lot of hard-earned knowledge.
I thoroughly recommend this book, not least because I have found its words to fall like fat raindrops on the dry soil of an over-busy mind. If you ever read to soothe, distract or travel by page – then this is a book you should not miss.
I suspect it was before Melissa Harrison was born that artist Roger Dean started designing homes in breaks between album covers for the band Yes. In one of them he created a weather room specifically designed to exaggerate the sound of rain falling outside. What a place that would have been to lie and read Rain. Then again, the quality of writing might just have coaxed the reader to go outside and get wet anyway!