Cheerful Weather for the Wedding, by Julia Strachey (1932)
Virginia Woolf apparently thought highly of this work, originally published by the Woolfs’ Hogarth Press in 1932. Other people must also have loved it, as both Penguin Books and Persephone Books have republished it, and somebody turned it into a movie in 2012. Anyway. I wish I loved the book too.
On a blustery day in March, the pampered elder daughter of a wealthy family marries a dull man destined for an acceptable career somewhere in South America. Dolly knows it is a mistake, and spends the pre-wedding hours in her room with a bottle of rum, even as her friends and family (including a young man she may or may not have loved and who may or may not still love her) gather downstairs for the celebration.
The book is sharp, funny, and short, which turned out to be a good thing. Julia Strachey populated her work with a cast of characters one expects in certain novels set in English country houses, but the trenchant observations left no room for sympathy. The book is unflinchingly unsentimental, but nevertheless I wished for a glimmer of likability in the main characters: just when I thought something interesting was going to happen between Mrs. Thatcham and Joseph, it didn’t. As I said, disappointing, but ultimately a fitting end to the book.