It is raining outside my window today as I write, the window blurred with raindrops that make their way down like tears. On the road opposite, cars streak past, their headlights spearing through the gloom. It is not light yet, but it will soon be.
Rains are a constant here in Singapore. I don’t think about them too much any more because they are always there. Tropical weather brings rains in the afternoons. Or in the mornings, like today. And instead of a day given to clouds it often gives way to bright sunshine. A few hours later, rains, again.
I grew up in India, where we had a proper monsoon season after long months of dry, unbearably hot summers. The first drops brought relief from the unrelenting heat, petrichor riding the air, and greenery all around. No wonder so many Indians hold fond memories of petrichor, that scent released when the first rains meet the parched earth—it was the fragrance of childhood joy, of playing in the rain, splashing in mud puddles.
Monsoons also brought floods in India. Mumbai is a modern metropolis that gets flooded each year, leading to clogged traffic, loss of lives and livelihoods, and in my novel-in-progress, the sequel to THE BLUE BAR, rain is a constant presence, on almost each page.
I feel the dampness and gloom rising from each scene as I write. All of it, unplanned. I didn’t mention rain in the synopsis I submitted to my editor. It must have seeped in through the days of continuous downpour Singapore saw this year, evoking memories of long-ago rainy seasons in India.
Funny how the subconscious works: it was only after I’d written the rain-soaked first two chapters that I realized the entire novel would be drenched in rain. I hope to bathe the last chapter in sunshine, but in the meanwhile, I’d also like to read a few books set up amid rain so I can learn how authors use the deluge as setting as well as plot driver.
One of the stories I remember reading as a young teen (and appreciated only as an adult), that made quite an impression on me was RAIN, by Somerset Maugham, where rain is both the inescapable setting and the inciter of the plot: set on a Pacific island, a missionary’s determination to reform a prostitute leads to tragedy. It is a story about a conflict between life and morals, where the author offers no judgment either way.
Another was an obscure novel read as part of college studies many years ago: THE RETURN OF THE NATIVE, by Thomas Hardy (which I had found quite plodding at the time, and have not read since), but the protagonist Eustacia’s flight and misery in the rain stayed with me:
Between the drippings of the rain from her umbrella to her mantle, from her mantle to the heather, from the heather to the earth, very similar sounds could be heard coming from her lips; and the tearfulness of the outer scene was repeated upon her face.
Mine is a crime novel, and I’m particularly looking for rain-soaked thrillers/ mysteries.
One of my recent reads was LOCAL WOMAN MISSING by Mary Kubica, and a few chapters of that book are set in the rain, as well. I would appreciate more reading suggestions, though.
What books have you read set amid rain? What memories do rains bring for you? Does it rain often or not much at all where you live?
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