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Review - Rain - Brian Cathcart 

 

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Rain is inevitably the cause of mixed feelings. We don't want it (at least not now, not here), but we can't live without it.

This is a curious little book (the smallest popular science book we're yet to review, in a smaller than usual format and only 95 pages long). In part its a reflection on what rain is and how it works; in part it covers what rain does to us, from flooding to providing a topic of conversation (though Cathcart points out that the infamous British obsession with the weather is, in fact, a myth).

You could assume that the shortness was due to this being a limited topic, but actually it would have stretched things too much to have given us a lot more - and that's why it only makes three stars: the book simply doesn't deliver where it could. When we were up in the clouds it comments how a rain cloud gets darker and darker... but doesn't tell us why. It makes passing reference to the production of lightning, but doesn't give any detail to the process. There's quite a lot on the development of the measurement of rainfall and the history of meteorology in the UK, but very little on other historical links that could have been followed.

All in all, then, what it does do it does very well, and Cathcart (as he proved in his superb The Fly in the Cathedral) is great at building the interest of a topic - but it was far too much a nouvelle cuisine approach when the subject could have served up a nine course banquet. A much more comment complaint in these reviews is that a book is too long - but for once it's quite the reverse.

Only in paperback                       

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Last update 05 June 2007