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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Thanks for this Damyanti – I’ve been pondering our next WEP prompt … A Hard Rain’s Gonna Fall … Petrichor – yes … that earthy smell – very obvious in South Africa when it hadn’t rained for ages … then the smell was overwhelming … and you’ve given me an idea for my WEP – thank you! I haven’t ready any of the books you suggest – but I’ll go over to your link – Wish List and enter The Blue Bar – all the best – Hilary
And we woke up to an ice storm outside. The trees are beautiful!
I’m sure I’ve read several books where the rain played a serious part. The only one that immediately springs to mind is The Year Without Summer (Guinevere Glasfurd), which was 1815, the year after Mt Tambura erupted and shot ash into the upper atmosphere; Mary Shelley is one of the characters involved – stuck in a rain-soaked Switzerland instead of the lovely holiday they’d expected. Similar poor weather followed the Pinatubo eruption. I think our poor summer last year might have been partly due to the ash from the US forest fires… and I’m worried about the Tonga eruption for the same reason – this is a gardener speaking!
But I live in the UK, and I’m sure there are several more that have had rain as a major part… I just haven’t taken so much notice of them! Although I did think I hadn’t had enough rain in my Princelings books – there is more as the series develops 🙂
Thanks for the warning about the rain in the Blue Bar 🙂
The Year Without Summmer sounds fascinating, Jemima.
Yes, I imagine rain is a part of a ton of British novels–I’m going to dig up a few. Rain is a small part of The Blue Bar. Its as-yet untitled sequel is the one drenched in rain–unless my editor cuts it all out due to some reason.
“Petrichor”….I never knew there was a name for that scent coming from parched earth being pelted by plopping raindrops. I grew up in Jamaica so that was a vivid part of my childhood. I smell it now as I write this!
No suggestions for you, but now you’ve made me curious about the ones you’ve read.
Thanks for the throwback🙂
Thanks for stopping by, so good to see you after a while!
Yes, Petrichor is a lovely word for a lovely smell 🙂
Nothing is coming to mind!
No worries, you can always tell me later if it does.
Inclement weather always puts me in mind of Emily Bronte’s Wuthering Heights.
Offhand, I can’t think of any with constant rain. Interesting how that seeped into your story. Several of mine involve heat, dust, and sand.
Rain….non stop thanks to global warming where we live, but I remember the wonder of rain when I lived in central Africa, the drains in the street gugling and paddling through it in the city, such a relief…
I am not sure about the monsoon, but have read a book by Japanese author Keigo Higashino novels during cloudy climate in India. I would suggest reading “The devotion of suspect ‘X’ which has amazing moments that has stimulative elements. His other book “Journey under the midnight sun’ had moved me so much and made me introspect how children’s mindset plays the key role in their adult age.
Higashino is one of my favorite authors. Glad you like him, too.
I haven’t read many books drenched in rain. Snow–cold–yes, but focusing on rain is intriguing. It’ll make your book stand out!
I certainly hope so, thanks, Jacqui. (It would be difficult to write a book set in India with snow, unless I went to the far north, up in the mountains.)
No books spring to mind immediately, but a crime drama on television is the first thing I thought of when reading your question. “The Killing” a series which follows the various murder investigations by homicide detectives Sarah Linden (Mireille Enos) and Stephen Holder (Joel Kinnaman). An excellent show, but very dark and rainy in appearance.
I’ve watched it–it is my kind of story. I’m looking for a book, Lynne, so I can maybe learn from how the author handled rain in their work.