One Hundred Days of Rain, by Rhodes Scholar Carellin Brooks, is as much a poem about rain as a novel about the demise of a marriage. The book begins with the narrator in jail for alleged violence against her same-sex partner. The story details the protagonist’s struggles raising her young child, managing her relationship with the boy’s father (“the last man she dated”), and dealing with the dramatic collapse of her marriage.
Each chapter is a prose poem about rain. Through repetition and variation, the sentences take on a meditative rhythm, viscerally drawing the reader into this wet world. The miracle of the novel is that Brooks never runs out of original and startling ways to describe precipitation. The consistently riveting and beautiful descriptions of weather stand as testament to Brooks’s rare talent.
One Hundred Days of Rain paints an equally vivid and evocative picture of Vancouver – its little ferry to Granville Island; its hardy wetsuited rowers; its wall of mountains; its solid storms. On every page, readers encounter weather “too pervasive to be discussed,” weather that has driven the city’s inhabitants crazy. The weather, of course, is also a fitting emblem for the narrator’s dark mood. However, the continual evocation of rain is more than pathetic fallacy. The precipitation never functions merely as background to, or commentary on, the characters’ dilemmas.
Despite its poetic mien, One Hundred Days of Rain is not lacking in traditional drama. There is betrayal and heartbreak. There are domestic fights so intense the neighbours call the police. There is courtroom name-calling. The handling of the conflict is so subtle and understated, however, that the environmental elements of the book seem more real, more significant, and more enduring.
One Hundred Days of Rain is a fascinating and hypnotic creation that not only bears up under multiple readings, but amply rewards them.