Stormy Weather

Stormy Weather

by Paulette Jiles


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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780060537333
Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date: 06/10/2008
Series: P.S. Series
Edition description: Reprint
Pages: 368
Sales rank: 519,341
Product dimensions: 5.31(w) x 8.00(h) x 0.83(d)

About the Author

Paulette Jiles is a novelist, poet, and memoirist. She is the author of Cousins, a memoir, and the novels Enemy Women, Stormy Weather, The Color of Lightning, Lighthouse Island, and News of the World. She lives on a ranch near San Antonio, TX.


Southwest Texas

Place of Birth:

Salem, Missouri


B.A. in Romance Languages, University of Missouri

Read an Excerpt

Stormy Weather LP

Chapter One

When her father was young, he was known to be a hand with horses. They said he could get any wage he asked for, that he could take on any job of freighting even in the fall when the rains were heavy and the oil field pipe had to be hauled over unpaved roads, when the mud was the color of solder and cased the wheel spokes. The reins were telegraph lines through which he spoke to his horses in a silent code, and it seemed to Jeanine that her father's battered hands held great powers in charge. He could drive through clouds or floods. During the early oil strikes in Central Texas he was once paid $1,250 to drive a sixteen-mule team hauling a massive oil field boiler from McAllister, Oklahoma, to Cisco, Texas. He got it across the Red River Bridge and through the bogged roads of North Texas without losing a mule or a spoke or a bolt.

Jeanine sat beside him on the wagon seat and watched the horses plunge along. They were buoyant, as if they were filled with helium. This particular morning his hands shook when he rolled a cigarette because the night before he had been drinking the brutal intoxicating mixtures that were sold because the Volstead Act was still in effect that year, 1924. After an hour they came to the oil field and her father told her to stay in the crisscross shadow of the derrick until he got his deal done because he and the foreman were probably going to sit around and talk and cuss for a while. You can't step past those shadows, there. Don't go playing around the horses' feet. Here, read this comic book. She sat and read from panel to panel as Texas Slim shot his way through the saloon doors on hishorse Loco. She couldn't keep her mind on it and so she walked the shadows of the derrick and pretended they were dark roads leading her away to distant countries like Mars and Boston and Oklahoma.

Her father talked with the driller about pipe to be hauled and how much a load and how many loads. The driller needed casing pipe, and casing pipe weighed more than drill stem so her father was trying to get paid by weight as well as by the load. After they had agreed and shook hands, he stood up carefully to balance his enormous beating head on his shoulders and called out, "Jeanine, come on, we've got to go."

Jeanine came to stand against her father's knees. All the machinery was still. The oil had been found and was being held below their feet, dark and explosive, until the crew would let it up through the casing pipe.

She said, "Let me drive the horses." Jeanine had a low voice and it made her sound like an immature blond dwarf.

Her father patted her heavily on top of her head. "You're too little to drive."

"But I want to play Ben-Hur."

He smiled. "You can't be Ben-Hur, honey, you're a girl."

The week before they had gone to see the movie star Raymond Navarro playing Ben-Hur in a toga, in screenland black and white, ripping around the arena at a suicidal speed, lashing a whip.

"Yeah, but he was wearing a dress, and I'm the one that's got the pants on."

Her father laughed and held his head. Jeanine was so relieved that her own laughter had a frantic sound and tears came to her eyes. The driller thought it was funny as well and he repeated it to the crew several times over and even after a week the driller could be heard to say Don't mess with me, boys, I'm the one that's got the pants on.

They started home. They lived in half of a rent house in Ranger, where they had moved as soon as there was word of an oil strike. Before that they seemed to have lived on the old Tolliver farm, but Jeanine was too young to remember it. Her father's strong hands were scarred, they had been knocked around by everything, by engine cranks and coffin hoists and the wagon jack. His cloth cap barely shaded his bloodshot eyes. All round them the horizon shifted from one red stone layer to another and down these slopes spilled live oak and Spanish oak and mesquite, wild grape and persimmon. Alongside the road were things people threw out of cars and wagons. A baby doll head lay under a dense blackbrush and seemed to watch as the hooves of the team went past. There were tin cans and mottled rags and lard pails and tiny squares of broken safety glass.

He reached under the seat and took out his bottle.

"If I have a drink now she'll never know by the time we get home." He took a quick drink and then handed the bottle to her. "Hide that for me."

Jeanine kneeled down and found the feed bags under the seat and stuffed the bottle in one of them and sat back on the seat again. She leaned against him. During the tormented shouting of the night before, Jeanine and her sister knew these were noises of pain. Their parents needed comfort.

"I love you," she said.

"You'll be mad at me too someday, Jenny," he said. "Before the world is done with me."

"But how come you threw the album out the front door?"

"Because the sewing machine was too heavy."

The photographs of herself and her sister Mayme tumbled down the steps like playing cards, like the doll head, discarded. Her mother and father's wedding portrait spun into the dirt. Jeanine and her sister Mayme picked them all up and carefully pasted them back into the album. Before long her mother and father would kiss each other. After that her father would be paid and they would buy a case of Lithiated Lemon soda and a radio and a race-horse.

Stormy Weather LP. Copyright © by Paulette Jiles. Reprinted by permission of HarperCollins Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved. Available now wherever books are sold.

Reading Group Guide

Questions for Discussion
1. Stormy Weather, like Jiles's previous novel, Enemy Women, makes use of historical facts. Did you know anything about the setting (the Dust Bowl, the Texas oil industry of the 1930s, quarter horse match races) before you started reading the novel? How well do you think the author captures the time period?
2. Jiles was a poet before she was a novelist. Do you see any evidence of this in her prose style? Was there a moment in the novel when you found yourself caught off-guard by a certain sentence structure, or came upon a word choice or phrase that you found yourself thinking about later?
3. Although they are sisters, Mayme, Jeanine, and Bea have very different personalities. What contributed to each girl's character? Does Bea's dreaminess have anything to do with her being the youngest? What elements of Mayme's character might be attributed to her position as the eldest?
4. Which of the four women was your favorite? Which one do you think you are most like, and why?
5. It's easy to dismiss Jack Stoddard as an irresponsible, unlikable man. Does anything redeem him? Can you sympathize with Jeanine's attachment to him? Did your perception of him change over the course of the novel?
6. Jeanine has a complex relationship with another "character" in the book, the racehorse Smoky Joe. She needs to sell him in order to pay the back taxes, but she has a strong affection for him, perhaps because he was the one thing left by her father. Do you think Ross Everett realizes this when he offers her part ownership of the horse?
7. The scenes between Jeanine and Ross are sexy, although physically almost nothing happens between them. How does Jiles create this romantic tension with such spare details?
8. What did you think of Milton Brown? How did he compare to Ross Everett? Did Jeanine take Milton seriously as a suitor? What do you think she found appealing about him?
9. Why is Jeanine initially reluctant to accept Ross's marriage proposal? Does her ultimate acceptance represent growth on her part?

Further Reading: The Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck

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Stormy Weather 3.9 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 123 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Of course harriet klausner has to come along with her cliff note book report and ruin this book. Another book sale lost bn. Please get rid of this poster, delete her plot spoilers and ban her from posting. She ruins every book she supposedly reviews!
DavidEdgewood More than 1 year ago
Truly a joy to read. Jiles writes about people you care about and stories about which you wish to know more. I learned so much about the time and the place through her fantastic descriptions and emotive writing. A real page-turner.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I saw a lot of similarity between the characters--with enough differences to not be obvious, But Mayme--Amy? Jeanine--Jo? Bea--Beth. It was interesting reading but, like other reviews I read, it was easy to put down, and come back to later. Not bad, but not absorbing.
amwhidden More than 1 year ago
This book was quite the poetic read. The protagonist wasnt the typical strong female character but she had a lot of inner strength that helped keep her family going. She was very relatable and you cared about what happened to her, her mother, and her siblings. The author did a great job of showing how childhood scars can haunt you throughout life and that you must inevitabley learn to trust again in order to find happiness. Poetic language throughout book. The setting was really brought to life. Sometimes I wished there was more dialogue and less setting but in the end it really worked to make a poignant read. Recommend.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I admint that I was worried, but this story and its characters are amazing. Interesting and real characters with real hardships and successes make this book a best choice for reading.
gipsy-pat More than 1 year ago
I found Stormy Weather to be an engrossing speculation of how life was lived by the families of those men who chased the emerging oil-fields across Texas during the time of the dust bowl. Not since Grapes of Wrath have I felt so caught up in the details of life during that period. I felt enlightened and entertained all in one, so much so that I promptly went out and read her previous book about the civil war.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I really loved this book. I cared about all the characters and wanted them to finally get a break. I am going to read Enemy Women now and will look forward to this author's next book.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Stormy Weather Paulette Jiles Author Jiles has written about my days, the Thirties, and my part of Texas. As if looking over my shoulder, she has traced my paths of childhood, resurrecting little forgotten details once so familiar to me of that era. Her research is very thorough. But that is little compared to her astounding metaphors and similes. ¿. . . waistlines down around their hips, legs shining and pale in silk stockings, they moved forward into the 1920s that came like a light summer wind all over Texas, a decade that would have a hundred years in it and would never end.¿ Just one of many examples that pleases and delights the reader, illustrating Jiles natural flair for the poetic. Her characters are real, breathing people, determined to survive the now with hearts turned toward better days.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Enjoying this book was like a time travel experience. I felt that I was in the 1930's dust bowl of Texas with our 4 brave, courageous, and resourceful women. I loved the clothes and furnishings being made from any cloth that was available anywhere. The working on the land and hot dusty days actually sent me into the refrigerator for a cold bottle of water as I read. The horse racing was something different than what most of us have heard about in the 'classic' race tracks of today. I really felt like I was part of this family, and enjoyed the personalities, talents for survival, industry, and pure fun with what was available for each woman's interests. The 'historical fiction' was at it's best done by Jiles. Throw in a great love story and this book is a wonderful read for book groups. One of the best books of this kind that I have read in a very long time!!!!
cataylor on LibraryThing 11 months ago
Jeanine's childhood is spent moving from one oil strike to the next along with her mother and two sisters by a father who's work moving pipeline and changing addictions keep them dirt poor. Still, she is her father's favorite and because she is his confidant learns to be more at home on the race track or wherever the men gather to talk shop than with other women. When her father dies, the family is left with no where to turn but her mother's home place, a farm in north central Texas that has been abandoned and neglected. With the drought and the depression bearing down on them, Jeanine's determination to bring the farm back and keep her father's race horse, Smokey Joe, becomes the glue that holds the family together.
countrylife on LibraryThing 11 months ago
OK, it sounds like a bumper sticker platitude. But: I {heart} Paulette Jiles. This is the third of her books that I¿ve picked up, and none have disappointed. She peoples interesting stories into the midst of historical events; the reader gets a fascinating history lesson for mind and heart. Although not my favorite of hers, this is still a great story. Stormy Weather (cue the song) takes us across the state of Texas during the dust bowl crisis of the 1930s. We learn a lot about oil drilling, match racing and farming and ranching. Perhaps this wasn¿t my favorite Jiles because of the topics; I¿m not into horses and the oil business makes my eyes glaze over.Some of her descriptions had me saying, `yep, been there¿. Having driven the roads between relatives in Oklahoma for years, I¿ve watched ¿The horsehead pumpjacks {working} away untended, nodding and nodding, as if perpetually agreeing with everything¿¿ And at Grandma¿s house, ¿How many times had they hung sheets to sit beside the stove, doubled up naked in a number three washtub¿?¿ (For more of her writing, see the CK.) But, it¿s her descriptions of what people did to cope with their situations that make this book.¿Whatever kind of life they had been able to cobble together despite the Depression and the oil fields and their father¿s love of good times and gambling was collapsing all around them. . . . They tried to piece their lives together the way people draw maps of remembered places; they get things wrong and out of proportion, they erase and redraw again.¿ The family at the center of this story: Jack Stoddard, a father who loves his family but is too fond of a good time, whose pockets empty faster than they fill. Chasing jobs all across Texas, following new oil business; because he was good with horses, he could haul supplies. Dragging his family from shed to tent to shared rickety old houses. Elizabeth Tolliver Stoddard, a mother who tries to make a home with very little to work with. And their girls: Mayme, her heart on her sleeve, but a loyal and eager to help sister, 15; Jeanine, ¿Daddy¿s girl¿ and the practical one, 13; and Bea, the imaginative ¿bookish¿ sister, 6 at the beginning of the story. Each (and everyone else in the story) fully realized; very good characterization. As always with Paulette Jiles: Highly recommended.
cindyloumn on LibraryThing 11 months ago
Liked the book. I kept waiting for something horrible to happen. But it didn't thank goodness. yes bad things happened. Loved the strong women in the book. Book about the depression in Tx. Liked the love story. A big depressing. And the author writes sort of with a flat affect sometimes.
bettyjo on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I finally gave up after 100 pages. I got bogged down in the oil industry. Maybe I will try it again later.
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She leaped onto a rock within the camp. "RainClan," she yowled. "Since I am Deputy, i will take temorary LeaderShip, she meowed before continuing, "Before EmberStar went missing," she meowed, her voice just mearly a whisper. "He was going to move camps. From now on camp is moved to: 'Rainy Days' result three. Everyone who needs a ceremony of any kind post what ceremony you need in result two," she yowled a bit louder. "Everyone move there now. Everyone MUST advertise EVERYDAY! We need to make this clan active and healthy as it once was! Everyone who has not yet posted a bio needs to do so at: 'Bios of Rain' result one. Results 2-3 are for updates," she meowed and leaped down, heading to the new camp. {Yeah, okay, AutumnShade. Honest, everyday I look at the 'Erin Hunter' books and there is NEVER a post for RainClan. Unless I post an ad for the clan, theres none there.}
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