In The Weather in the Streets, as in Rosamond Lehmann’s other books, all the characters are seen through the female protagonist’s eyes. Olivia Curtis is a well-depicted character. Her strong feelings of inferiority are buttressed by the fact that her mother does not turn to her first when Olivia’s father becomes critically ill. Much of Olivia’s development occurs early in the novel, when she is seen in sharp contrast to her sister Kate—an effective technique for developing character in a book in which the characterization is largely accomplished from a single point of view.
Olivia’s financial struggle throws her into sharp contrast to Rollo and his family, who, ironically, are having their own financial struggle, but who retain the outer trappings of prosperity. Their ability to maintain their standard of living, however tenuously, gives them a luster that Olivia’s bohemian friends and her family lack.
Olivia’s artist friend Simon, although he is developed only sketchily and always in relation to Olivia, dies only months after he gives his party. His freewheeling, bohemian party stands in sharp contrast to the staid, dull, but quite orderly and tasteful dinner Olivia attends at the Spencers’ Meldon Towers.
Simon is a talented artist, but his life is cut off before his talent can be fully realized, suggesting that the element of society that is coming along to replace the old order can survive no more surely than has the old order. The old order will surely collapse.
Lehmann really never gets into the minds of her male characters, and Rollo does not grow naturally from the action of the book but rather is superimposed upon it.