‘Stormy Weather’ by Paulette Jiles – Texas Dust, Rain, and Oil During the Great Depression


‘Stormy Weather’ by Paulette Jiles (2007) – 342 pages

I was quite impressed with Paulette Jiles’ latest novel ‘News of the World’, and that novel made my Best of 2017 list. That Western story is told in a dignified and stately fashion in simple and straightforward prose. So I decided to listen to another novel from Jiles’ back catalog, ‘Stormy Weather’, on audio book. ‘News of the World’ was strong enough to revive my interest in the author’s back catalog as sometimes happens.

Not every novel is made for listening. If a novel contains complex sentences or a difficult plot, it becomes tricky to capture the full effect of the book even with repeated listening. I do read most novels the old-fashioned way (even in physical book form rather than Kindle). However I do occasionally want an audio book (while I’m walking our dog, Bailey) so I am careful to choose only novels for listening that I think will suit the medium. I find these clear and elegant Western novels by Paulette Jiles perfect for audio listening.

‘Stormy Weather’ takes place in Texas oil country during the Great Depression. It is a family story of the Stoddards. The heavy-drinking and gambling father Jack Stoddard dies early on under questionable circumstances, and the mother and three daughters are left to fend for themselves. The only thing their father left them was a race horse named Smokey Joe and a bad reputation. They move back to their mother’s family farm. Much of the story centers around the middle daughter Jeanine who starts out as a scrappy six year old in 1924 and by the end of the novel is twenty-one. As she comes of age, she meets a couple of guys on separate occasions who are quite different from each other, and we get the scenes of her romantic and not-so-romantic encounters as she grows up.

Along the way we get credible stories both happy and sad about what happens to a family through time, And of course there are scenes of the horse Smokey Joe in rural horse races.

‘Stormy Weather’ has the same qualities that drew me to ‘News of the World’. It is a steady family portrait of life during hard times, a story that works just as well for teenagers as it does for adults. It is not the most original story in style or substance, but it is perfect for audio listening.


Grade :    A


4 responses to this post.

  1. I am happy to see your recommendation of this book as an audiobook as I agree with your comments about books to listen to. I love having an audiobook while I cook or clean, but it has to be just the right kind of book. And this one, like News of the World, sounds like a good one.

    Liked by 1 person


  2. I’m not sure how original I’d say News of the World was, but it was extremely good. Nice review and I think I’ll pick up the book in consequence of it.

    Liked by 1 person


    • Hi Max,
      The plot doesn’t have to be original if the attitude is, and Paulette Jilles has a calm and steady almost elegant way of telling stories that reminds me of the classic Westerns. The plot of Stagecoach wasn’t that original either, but I’d watch it again if I get the chance.



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