Saturday, May 29, 2010

Cool Water by Dianne Warren

Juliet, Saskatchewan, is a blink-of-an-eye kind of town -- the welcome sign announces a population of 1,011 people -- and it’s easy to imagine that nothing happens on its hot and dusty streets. Situated on the edge of the Little Snake sand hills, Juliet and its inhabitants are caught in limbo between a century -- old promise of prosperity and whatever lies ahead.

But the heart of the town beats in the rich and overlapping stories of its people: the foundling who now owns the farm his adoptive family left him; the pregnant teenager and her mother, planning a fairytale wedding; a shy couple, well beyond middle age, struggling with the recognition of their feelings for one another; a camel named Antoinette; and the ubiquitous wind and sand that forever shift the landscape. Their stories bring the prairie desert and the town of Juliet to vivid and enduring life.

This wonderfully entertaining, witty and deeply felt novel brims with forgiveness as its flawed people stumble towards the future.

I feel bad. I was supposed to review this book as part of a blog tour MONTHS ago, but then things happened and here I am posting it late! The further behind I am, the harder it is for me to get started on things. That means that things just get worse and then I have an even larger problem to tackle. The good thing is that I wound up loving this book! I wasn't sure if I would because it doesn't seem like the type of book where a lot happens, but that's okay. What does happen made for compelling reading and I really felt like both the characters and the town itself came alive for me. I think this book stands a good chance of going up for some of Canada's awards this year, but I suppose we will have to see what happens.

The book is told from many different points of view. All of the characters are flawed in some way. This is not a book of perfection by any stretch. There are scenes where you want to cry for the characters, but there are also scenes where you can't help laughing. There are scenes that will stick with you long after you have turned the final page. I was also surprised by how some of the events turned out. Things happened that I did not see coming, and there were a couple times where I wondered just what the author was thinking and whether things really were going to work out to a satisfying conclusion.

There is one character who has inherited a farm from his adoptive parents. He is still rather young and not entirely sure how to make things run as smoothly as they did. A chance encounter, though, gives him a chance to stretch his legs and figure out just who he is. I found him to be a crush-worthy character. Then, there is the family that are seriously feeling the pressure of the recession. They have no idea how they are going to get by, but the wife can't seem to be the farm wife-type and the husband doesn't know what to do anymore. It all gets rather over-whelming for them after the book progresses. Their oldest son is taking things the worst and honestly doesn't know what to do anymore. He has to break-away for a while to get some perspective. Those are just some of the characters that make up this novel.

The thing that I really liked about this book is that it was so ordinary. It is about small town people their small town problems. Everything is entirely possible and able to be related to in some way. The stories are just told in such a way that even when they are plain, they still feel like they have a lot of life to them. I really enjoyed this book and hope that it receives lots of recognition in 2010 because it deserves it!

My thanks to Harper Collins Canada for sending me a copy of this book!


  1. This sounds like a great Canadian read. I'll be interested to see if it goes up for awards as you predict!

  2. Better late than never, right? You've made me want to read it, and that's what counts.

  3. Nice review. I love the cover of this book and your review of it, makes me want to read it.

  4. Sounds like one I might want to check out - thanks for the review! I'm especially intrigued by the character that inherits his adoptive parents' property.

  5. Thanks for bringing my attention to this book. It sounds like a great Canadian read.


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