An Unexpected Break in the Weather

An Unexpected Break in the Weather is the story of two women, Gertrude and Mildred, and the hardships and life-changing decisions that come with old age.

Set on the Corydon strip in Winnipeg, Millie and Gertrude co-own A Rose, a bridal dress shop on the avenue. After a series of unexpected events, the women begin to come to the realization that age is finally catching up with them and make plans to close the shop for good.

Through the story, Schnitzer introduces characters who, though they’re not related, act as missing roles of family members in the lives of Mildred and Gertrude. In order to help their adopted family, Millie and Gertrude decide to plan a wedding and a funeral while closing their store. There is no stopping what these women aim to achieve.

The novel provides an interesting perspective on Winnipeg, making many current references to what the city has become. As the story goes back and forth between past and present times, it unfortunately becomes a little confusing and hard to follow. Additionally, Schnitzer often decides to break sentence structure rules and divides parts into unnecessary paragraphs.

Though there are several sub-plots going on within the story, readers may find the novel to drag on at times with nothing pushing it forward. The exception is the ample amounts of avoidable information, which readers may find a little puzzling.

Deborah Schnitzer was born in Sault Ste. Marie, Ont. and currently resides in Winnipeg. She teaches English literature at the University of Winnipeg and has developed courses in gay and lesbian literature, Aboriginal literature, as well as picture books for children.

Schnitzer is known for being an activist, editor and writer, with other works including Gertrude Unmanageable and the long poem Loving Gertrude Stein, along with countless scholarly articles and critical anthologies.

For those seeking stories of relevant but nonetheless life-changing events that may help them get through their own, look no further than An Unexpected Break in the Weather. But if perhaps you aren’t looking for something deep, the book should still make for a pleasant read on a typical Winnipeg afternoon.

Published in Volume 64, Number 20 of The Uniter (February 25, 2010)

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