The Characters

(Critical Guide to British Fiction)

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.

Characters Discussed

(Great Characters in Literature)

Olivia Curtis

Olivia Curtis, a twenty-seven-year-old woman separated from her husband, Ivor Craig. Olivia leads an impoverished semi-bohemian life in London, where she shares a small house with her flighty cousin Etty Somers and works part-time for a pittance in the studio of a photographer and painter named Anna, one of a circle of artists and writers who form Olivia’s present world. Called home by the serious illness of her father, Olivia takes a train to Tulverton, where the older Curtises live. In the dining car, she meets Rollo Spencer, whom she has not seen for ten years; they had met briefly at his sister Marigold’s coming-out party and later at her wedding. Olivia is immediately and again attracted to Rollo and senses his fascination with her even though he cannot remember her name. The next day, Olivia is invited to attend a small dinner party at the Spencers’, after which Rollo drives her home. The beginnings of what is to be an eight-month affair are evident.

Rollo Spencer

Rollo Spencer, the handsome, self-assured, and prosperous son of Sir John and Lady Spencer, in his thirties. He also is the husband of Nicola Maude, a sickly and nervous woman, almost an invalid. Rollo is loving and generous with Olivia. He buys her flowers and jewelry, but they can never go to places where he might be seen and recognized, so their times together are spent in out-of-the-way pubs and small inns in country towns. A...

(The entire section is 545 words.)