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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 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.


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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 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.

30 review for Cool Water (Juliet in August)

  1. 5 out of 5

    Diane Barnes

    This is a quiet novel taking place in a small town in Saskatchewan, Canada. One night and a day, several regular people with no claim to fame, living their lives, crossing paths with neighbors who have known them for years, with strangers who don't know them at all; doesn't sound like much of a story to some readers who prefer an action filled plot. But if you are the type of reader who believes that what happens inside the hearts and minds of the characters is more important that what happens a This is a quiet novel taking place in a small town in Saskatchewan, Canada. One night and a day, several regular people with no claim to fame, living their lives, crossing paths with neighbors who have known them for years, with strangers who don't know them at all; doesn't sound like much of a story to some readers who prefer an action filled plot. But if you are the type of reader who believes that what happens inside the hearts and minds of the characters is more important that what happens around them, you are going to love this book. One day, and one night, and the whole world can be turned upside down. A realization, a newfound emotion, a lie, a sudden dawning of the truth......none of these things take very long, but can change lives in an instant. This quiet novel is a joy to read.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Cynthia

    Sand Dunes and Families Juliet is a small town in Saskatchewan Canada. It’s a place like most others where people want the best for themselves and their loved ones, a place where the tough economy is a major concern but also where loving relationships are even more important. Most people are farmers or come from a farming background. Animals are important to them not only for companionship but also as work helpers. They’re tied to the land and its weather conditions. All the action takes place in Sand Dunes and Families Juliet is a small town in Saskatchewan Canada. It’s a place like most others where people want the best for themselves and their loved ones, a place where the tough economy is a major concern but also where loving relationships are even more important. Most people are farmers or come from a farming background. Animals are important to them not only for companionship but also as work helpers. They’re tied to the land and its weather conditions. All the action takes place in a 24 hour period and is a wonderful pastiche of the tales of five or so families. A lot happens outwardly and inwardly. “Juliet” is a nice blend of plot and internal contemplation. While the characters go about their daily activities they also dream, reflect, and evaluate their current situation and their pasts. When I saw Warren was compared to Alice Munro, Carol Shields, and Elizabeth Strout I was both intrigued and nervous. I love those authors but have been disappointed too many times by new author’s comparisons with outstanding established authors. Well in Warren’s case the comparison was apt. “Juliet” has humor without silliness or quirkiness, it provides insights into the human condition without being preachy, it illustrates people’s love and care for one another without being overly sentimental. And the writing! There are no virtuoso flourishes that hit you over the head but more a slow drip by drip awareness of just how adept Warren’s prose is. She uses nature to reflect and amplify the character’s thoughts, as well as how the land shapes them. The sand dunes shift and change just as family situations do but neither loses strength or volume. This is Warren’s first novel. I think she has a great writing career ahead.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Jill

    If you’re wondering whether Juliet in August is a book for you, ask yourself one question: are you a fan of character-based novels in which not a whole lot happens externally? In my case, the answer is a resounding “yes.” I happen to love books that integrate a strong sense of place with authentic, sometimes quirky, sometimes poignant characters that could walk off the pages and take residence in your own area. So it’s no surprise that I reacted so positively to this debut book. Juliet is not a ch If you’re wondering whether Juliet in August is a book for you, ask yourself one question: are you a fan of character-based novels in which not a whole lot happens externally? In my case, the answer is a resounding “yes.” I happen to love books that integrate a strong sense of place with authentic, sometimes quirky, sometimes poignant characters that could walk off the pages and take residence in your own area. So it’s no surprise that I reacted so positively to this debut book. Juliet is not a character (but it may as well be); it’s a small town in Saskatchewan filled with its own mythology and pathos. It’s peopled by individuals and families that intersect: an accidental rancher who inherited land from his much-older adoptive relatives; a couple with six children who are overwhelmed and facing bankruptcy; the henpecked banker who watches helplessly as their pregnant daughter is corralled into an unpromising marriage; and two middle-aged people (brother- and sister-in-law) who strive to communicate their growing love and dependence on each other. Dianne Warren expertly and confidently unearths their interior lives. Each character is alone but connected, longing for something more stable in their fragile interior and exterior landscape. About one character walking near the dunes, she writes“…she saw patterns as intricate and complicated as the veins in an insect’s wings.” The same could be said about what lies inside. In a quiet and assured tone, Ms. Warren describes a coterie of characters who only want to believe in their own abilities to change and in a future that is constantly under threat by lack of rain, shifting sands, and economic upheavals. For some readers – those who like action-based plots – this gentle portrayal of rural townspeople may not be enough. Yet these portraits are so pitch-perfect that I found myself missing them during the times I was not actively reading and aching for their trials. If you liked Olive Kitteridge, Plainsong, Emily Alone or perhaps some of the works of Elizabeth Hay, chances are, you will enjoy this book as much as I did. Thank you, FirstReads, for the opportunity to read this wonderful book.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Debbie

    This book reminded me of home. Growing up on and now living on a farm near a small town in western Canada makes this story so familiar. Everything seemed so relatable and authentic, from characters, events and vocabulary, to the names of stores and newspapers referred to in this book. It really touched me emotionally in so many ways! I felt that Dianne Warren got into my head, my life.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Canadian Reader

    "The landscape was so vast and simple, reduced to sky and grass and sand. Yet, in the surface at her feet, she saw patterns as intricate and complicated as the veins in an insect's wings." This is a lovely piece of Canadian fiction, probably one of the finest pieces of writing I've read in some time. Warren has a large cast of characters, rural and small-town folk, who live in and around the town of Juliet. The are simple enough people, but all have depths and longings and secrets. I am glad "The landscape was so vast and simple, reduced to sky and grass and sand. Yet, in the surface at her feet, she saw patterns as intricate and complicated as the veins in an insect's wings." This is a lovely piece of Canadian fiction, probably one of the finest pieces of writing I've read in some time. Warren has a large cast of characters, rural and small-town folk, who live in and around the town of Juliet. The are simple enough people, but all have depths and longings and secrets. I am glad to have discovered this wonderful writer. Finding and reading her other works will be a priority.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Jaylia3

    After racing through several action packed, the-world-is-in-danger, paranormal adventure quests it was a pure pleasure to read this character rich novel just right for thoughtful savoring. Author Dianne Warren proves the truth of Jane Austen’s writing advice to her niece that three or four families in a country village is the very thing to work on. Juliet in August takes place during one extended summer day in a small Saskatchewan town surrounded by sandy desert hills. Though nothing earthshakin After racing through several action packed, the-world-is-in-danger, paranormal adventure quests it was a pure pleasure to read this character rich novel just right for thoughtful savoring. Author Dianne Warren proves the truth of Jane Austen’s writing advice to her niece that three or four families in a country village is the very thing to work on. Juliet in August takes place during one extended summer day in a small Saskatchewan town surrounded by sandy desert hills. Though nothing earthshaking happens, the overlapping stories of the town people are full of the captivating joys, sorrows and complications of life. Numerous points of view and sympathetically written characters mean readers are presented with several sides for each storyline. There is the compassionate banker who realizes there isn’t much he can do to help his bankruptcy headed clients, his determined wife who insists that things be done the right way, and his pregnant teenaged daughter who is just beginning to show intermittent sparks of responsibility. A middle-aged, drive-in theater and camel-ride owner is sharing his home with his brother’s widow and beginning to feel the first glimmers of what might be love. An optimistic mother of six can’t seem to get everything done that needs doing, her teenaged son is struggling with growing up and her husband is feeling pulled between lust and duty. Several more personalities round out and further enrich the narrative and the writing is so beautiful I was almost sighing out loud.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Jeanette

    Having finished this almost a week ago, I was debating with myself between a 4 or a 5 star. It is certainly 4.5. This author is new to me and I'll look for her name upon another. Absolutely! What kept me giving it that last .5 star? My frustration that each time I got buried within an excellent character of poignant layer, I would abruptly get jerked out of it- and switched immediately into one of several other interplaying story lines. All in Juliet, the town. All in August, the month. All so di Having finished this almost a week ago, I was debating with myself between a 4 or a 5 star. It is certainly 4.5. This author is new to me and I'll look for her name upon another. Absolutely! What kept me giving it that last .5 star? My frustration that each time I got buried within an excellent character of poignant layer, I would abruptly get jerked out of it- and switched immediately into one of several other interplaying story lines. All in Juliet, the town. All in August, the month. All so different. It broke the emotive connection. But Juliet is wide and the various storylines (I did not count but I believe more than 5 central characters of main "focus" or narrator following)- all fit under the fine scope of this Canadian West. No hints of synopsis at all. If you love action and dysfunctional crisis as a central faucet, do not come to drink here of this flow. It's common. No celebrity or big city urgency. This is far more about family, in attachment and in loneliness both. Friendship in passing or in deep intimacy. Town and township reality and context for sickness, meanness from a personality of unkind habit, annoyance for the backward or silly, death as a slow train or quick as an airplane plummet. Hairdressers and bankers. Peaceful accommodators and troubled snarks. Most ironically of all was the timing of this read for me. August, as well. Right in the middle of this book I had a huge (HUGE) sweet pepper, hot pepper, tomato, and especially GREEN BEAN crop to harvest. Put up, freeze, cook, bake, or in some ways, any other ways, to resolve in giveaway to the food pantries or sell. Blaine got me mad enough to get 3 others to blanch those green beans if they wanted them so bad. LOL! If you like stories of hip, elite, city celebs and top notch high flyers- this is not in that category. Just the opposite. Ordinary people. I loved it in plot and place. Plus the style grew on me too.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Alexander Inglis

    A day in the life of Juliet, Saskatchewan. The lives of several families examined. Struggles, minor succeses, a death, an epiphany. Secrets kept, secrets unleashed. Love requited. Hopes renewed. A 100 year old horse race, 100 miles in length, rerun 100 years later. And thereby hangs a tail or two. And a tale or three. I wondered if I read the same book the jurors of the GG prize read. They wrote: "The place is a small Saskatchewan town, the time spans barely more than a day. In this exquisitely c A day in the life of Juliet, Saskatchewan. The lives of several families examined. Struggles, minor succeses, a death, an epiphany. Secrets kept, secrets unleashed. Love requited. Hopes renewed. A 100 year old horse race, 100 miles in length, rerun 100 years later. And thereby hangs a tail or two. And a tale or three. I wondered if I read the same book the jurors of the GG prize read. They wrote: "The place is a small Saskatchewan town, the time spans barely more than a day. In this exquisitely constructed novel, Dianne Warren makes each moment shine; her narrative flows seamlessly from character to character, all stunningly depicted. The implied silences of her elegant minimalism amplify the lush prose. Cool Water immerses readers in the difficulties and joys of everyday life." Already a quarter the way through, I was restless; the prose is present tense with the inner voice of the character on screen pondering each moment as it ticks by. The characters are unremarkable, sometimes petty, mainly colourless and hard to connect with. Instead of a novel, there are several short stories that have been forced together, the sum being less than the parts. And yet ... there was some charm, there were characters drawn more deeply, the opening historic race did help set the stage in a cagier way than is first apparent. Easy to put down, harder to complete, this relatively slender novel has relatively slender rewards. But there are some. A review appeared in The Globe and Mail, National Post, Quill & Quire and other Canadian publications. Winner: Governor General Literary Award 2010

  9. 4 out of 5

    Lori

    Spoiler Alert! A little taste of home is what this book brought for me. Coming from Swift Current, Saskatchewan, I remember visiting this area of the sand hills as a child. I loved this book. I was surprised how much I enjoyed it. Each time I went to read it, it was like getting your comfiest clothes on and a hot (or iced) tea, depending on the season and settling in to share time with an old friend. This book was beautifully written and flowed seamlessly through a single 24 hour period in Juliet Spoiler Alert! A little taste of home is what this book brought for me. Coming from Swift Current, Saskatchewan, I remember visiting this area of the sand hills as a child. I loved this book. I was surprised how much I enjoyed it. Each time I went to read it, it was like getting your comfiest clothes on and a hot (or iced) tea, depending on the season and settling in to share time with an old friend. This book was beautifully written and flowed seamlessly through a single 24 hour period in Juliet, Sk.; shifting from storyline to storyline, character to character's stories as easily as the sand shifts continuously in these sand hills. You enjoyed each character's story equally some touching like the middle-aged couple recognizing but unable to express their love for each other and that of wife of the bank manager who had to face losing him and realizing, after he died, how much she loved his quiet and understated presence. Some others heart- warming and funny, like Vicki and her gaggle of kids terrorizing the town and Lynne's fear that Hank was having an affair. The story of the young Lee's epic horseback ride was the thread that held everything together; bringing in the story of the racing cowboys from 100 years ago and helping us all, with his reminiscing of growing up and life with Lester and Astrid, gain a little insight into what life is like in a small prairie town. A wonderful, wonderful book.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Evelyn

    This started a little slow for me, and after a few chapters I thought this was a short story collection. Then the cast of characters seemed to come together for me and I was immersed in the story. Once I finished I was amazed to realize this whole story, with the exception of the first vignette, took place over two days. I am from Saskatchewan, and I have lived in the area of the fictional town of Juliet. In fact, I also lived in Swift Current, but before the "new hospital" was built. However, I This started a little slow for me, and after a few chapters I thought this was a short story collection. Then the cast of characters seemed to come together for me and I was immersed in the story. Once I finished I was amazed to realize this whole story, with the exception of the first vignette, took place over two days. I am from Saskatchewan, and I have lived in the area of the fictional town of Juliet. In fact, I also lived in Swift Current, but before the "new hospital" was built. However, I have been back since, so I know where it is and could picture the drive there in my mind's eye. These characters are so real, I feel I know them,or people just like them. I think I am related to some of them. A quiet story, but it made me smile, and long for my small town southern Saskatchewan days, surrounded by down to earth people, with all their quirks and foibles, where you can get a piece of pie and an understanding ear. 2nd read On this read I was able to see the shifting storylines in the context of the shifting sand dunes - oh how clever! We are reminded how we are shaped by our experiences and our environment. That even though time passes and things change, so much remains the same, or repeats itself; a thought I found very comforting. This story lingers in my mind and still makes me homesick.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Kate

    I don't often like literature-y literature, so I’m happy when a critically acclaimed book comes along that captures my attention. Cool Water made me homesick. I could taste the prairie dust and feel the sweat trickling down my back on a hot summer day. The novel offers the stories of a few people who live in a small Saskatchewan town and the hardships they undergo. I guess this also struck a chord with me, because I grew up in a small town, and things were starting to change as I was growing up I don't often like literature-y literature, so I’m happy when a critically acclaimed book comes along that captures my attention. Cool Water made me homesick. I could taste the prairie dust and feel the sweat trickling down my back on a hot summer day. The novel offers the stories of a few people who live in a small Saskatchewan town and the hardships they undergo. I guess this also struck a chord with me, because I grew up in a small town, and things were starting to change as I was growing up - the grain elevators closing down, the small family farms becoming inviable, the gradual urbanization of a province based in rural identity. The trials of the major characters in Cool Water were engrossing to me because of the whimsical tone and humour they were told with - books about prairie hardships are really not always my bag (see: intense dislike of Alice Munro's short stories). I cried and laughed, and felt a little bit taken apart and put back together by the end. I guess it reassured me that while life can be lonely and unfair, if people still care and communities stick together, we persist.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Louise

    Canadian literature at its best. A brilliant, well written, absorbing "24 hour portrait" of a small, fictional Canadian prairie town and it's various inhabitants. A book about nothing, and about everything. I would love to see a sequel. Canadian literature at its best. A brilliant, well written, absorbing "24 hour portrait" of a small, fictional Canadian prairie town and it's various inhabitants. A book about nothing, and about everything. I would love to see a sequel.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Ruth Seeley

    Masterful storytelling here. The town of Juliet, SK, comes alive over the course of 24 hours. Warren manages to introduce and flesh out dozens of characters without it seeming strained at all. She's also very funny - and yet the humour is never laboured, but seemingly effortless. Masterful storytelling here. The town of Juliet, SK, comes alive over the course of 24 hours. Warren manages to introduce and flesh out dozens of characters without it seeming strained at all. She's also very funny - and yet the humour is never laboured, but seemingly effortless.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Pooker

    Christmas booty! Okay so what is it about books set in Saskatchewan? I am not a prairie girl. I was born on Lake of the Woods. Pine, granite, steep hills and fishy lake water are in my blood and they never fail to call me home when I read of them. Yet lately I've found a sort of second home in these Saskatchewan books. In addition to this book, which I loved, I've also particularly enjoyed Dry by Barbara Sapergia; The Last Cowboy by Lee Gowan; and Beatrice by Monica Kidd. Although different books, Christmas booty! Okay so what is it about books set in Saskatchewan? I am not a prairie girl. I was born on Lake of the Woods. Pine, granite, steep hills and fishy lake water are in my blood and they never fail to call me home when I read of them. Yet lately I've found a sort of second home in these Saskatchewan books. In addition to this book, which I loved, I've also particularly enjoyed Dry by Barbara Sapergia; The Last Cowboy by Lee Gowan; and Beatrice by Monica Kidd. Although different books, they all remind me of each other. In all of them there is a sense of longing for things to remain as they were or are; a desire to remain "country" and a reluctance to become "big city" and move with the fast-changing times. In all of them there is a definite sense of place, and when I say sense, I really mean that. You can almost see, hear and feel the prairie. In Beatrice, for example, I remember the underlying "clickety-clack" of the train. Whereas in Cool Water I can almost hear the lazy clip clop of horses on the trail and singing cowboy refrains, "Cool, clear water" and "tumbling tumbleweeds." While I am not a prairie girl, I am a small town girl and so I quite recognized and delighted in the small town life of Cool Water's Juliet. I loved the way the author introduced us to all the residents and kept us informed as to what was going on in their lives. After all everybody knows everybody and everybody's business in a small town. While the book is a novel, it is also a series of stories about the characters and their families, stories that touch each other and intertwine as the folks go about their business and interact. I particularly liked the restaurant scenes where people (town folk and visitors alike) come and go and cross paths. I could quite imagine myself sitting at a table, looking out the window and having some pie, all the while catching up on my neighbours' business. While there are a lot of characters, the author made them all easy to know and, in her gentle and sometimes humourous way, made them dear. Truly a delightful read. Four stars is not enough (five I reserve for rock and pine), but easily a 9 out of 10.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Kara Hansen

    3.5 stars. Cool Water takes us to the small town of Juliet, Saskatchewan. A town where everyone knows everyone, and no one’s business or life is private. It is in the heat of a dry, hot August day that these characters come to life. The book is broken up into chapters, each of which focuses on a different character(s). As the day wears on, these characters grew on me. Norval Birch, the bank manager, trying to cope with both the demands of the bank and his wife, Lila. Lee Torgeson, a young farmer 3.5 stars. Cool Water takes us to the small town of Juliet, Saskatchewan. A town where everyone knows everyone, and no one’s business or life is private. It is in the heat of a dry, hot August day that these characters come to life. The book is broken up into chapters, each of which focuses on a different character(s). As the day wears on, these characters grew on me. Norval Birch, the bank manager, trying to cope with both the demands of the bank and his wife, Lila. Lee Torgeson, a young farmer who is now running the farm of his adoptive parents, wondering if they would be proud of him. Vicki Dolson, harried wife and mom of six, trying to manage her life and children. Willard and Marian, a shy couple. Dianne Warren does a remarkable job of portraying the lives of these folks. At times funny, and at times moving. A “slice of life” in small town Juliet, Saskatchewan. I highly recommend.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Lydia Presley

    Juliet in August is one of the most understated, beautifully written books I've read in 2012. Dianne Warren has created a book that, with the subtlety and grace of a racing horse, has completely taken over my imagination and whisked me away to a little town in Canada named Juliet. Juliet in August begins with a horse race - a story which is the foundation of the short tales that follow it. In a way, this book is a mixture of a bunch of short stories, strung together in such a pitch-perfect way th Juliet in August is one of the most understated, beautifully written books I've read in 2012. Dianne Warren has created a book that, with the subtlety and grace of a racing horse, has completely taken over my imagination and whisked me away to a little town in Canada named Juliet. Juliet in August begins with a horse race - a story which is the foundation of the short tales that follow it. In a way, this book is a mixture of a bunch of short stories, strung together in such a pitch-perfect way that they do not begin to mix until I became completely embroiled in the lives of each and every one of the characters. My heart ached for the Dalton's, I explored life with Lee and mourned his adopted parents with him as well. The time I spent reading I felt as if I was visiting newly acquired friends and I loved every single minute. I am pretty sure, even more so as I sit here writing this review, that Dianne Warren is kind of a genius. She packed so much material in short segments, making them seem as if the pages were flying by but time was slowing in the process. And the entire time, I felt as if I was reading a beautifully written, literary western novel and that each person I was connecting to was someone who could easily be linked to a friend in my own life. Juliet in August surprised and delighted me and easily fits in with my top five books of the year. Don't be fooled by its simple cover and name - this book is one of the most complex and interesting you will pick up this year as well, I promise.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Siobhan Fallon

    Dianne Warren’s evocative Juliet in August tells the story of Juliet, a small town set against the vastness of the West. Throughout the novel, the dunes that border Juliet are constantly shifting, uncovering bits of history lost to the sands. Warren handles her characters with the same archaeological precision, brushing away layer after layer, slowly revealing their inner turmoil as they move tentatively toward love and forgiveness. Juliet in August is an intricately beautiful novel full of the Dianne Warren’s evocative Juliet in August tells the story of Juliet, a small town set against the vastness of the West. Throughout the novel, the dunes that border Juliet are constantly shifting, uncovering bits of history lost to the sands. Warren handles her characters with the same archaeological precision, brushing away layer after layer, slowly revealing their inner turmoil as they move tentatively toward love and forgiveness. Juliet in August is an intricately beautiful novel full of the unexpected triumph of ordinary life.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Aban (Aby)

    I reserve a five star rating for books that will (I feel) be loved by readers across the world and will be equally appreciated by generations to come. I am not sure that "Cool Water" has quite this quality, though I might be wrong. Anyway, I loved the book though not on the first reading. I had to read it a second time in order to truly appreciate its quiet, understated beauty. I loved the structure of the book, its characters, language and its gentle humor. "Cool Water" is really about an area - I reserve a five star rating for books that will (I feel) be loved by readers across the world and will be equally appreciated by generations to come. I am not sure that "Cool Water" has quite this quality, though I might be wrong. Anyway, I loved the book though not on the first reading. I had to read it a second time in order to truly appreciate its quiet, understated beauty. I loved the structure of the book, its characters, language and its gentle humor. "Cool Water" is really about an area - the Sand Hills in rural Saskatchewan - and consists of chapters devoted to several different families who live in that region. The stories are interwoven brilliantly and, sometimes, so subtly that it would be easy to miss the connections. I loved the way Lee Torgeson's ride duplicated the ride of Ivan Dodge and Henry Merchant a generation earlier and Lee's finding of the watch lost by Henry during his race. I appreciated the bringing together of various characters in the shops and the restaurant in the town of Juliet. Although there was no one main character, the author portrayed a vivid picture of the families, their backgrounds, their trials and tribulations. The characters came to life for me and I was able to relate with each and everyone of them . . . a remarkable achievement, considering there were so many of them. The book is superbly written. Diane Warren's language is always simple, understated, and exquisite as she guides the reader through the sights, sounds, and (sometimes) smells of the Saskatchewan countryside. I lived in Saskatchewan for thirty years and loved its vast spaces and its gentle beauty. The author does full justice to this beauty through her writing. I also loved the humor in the book. As with every other aspect of the book, it is quiet and gentle. There is humor in the story of the camel, Antoinette, in the diffidence of Willard to Marion's approaches, and in so many small touches throughout the book. I would recommend this book without hesitation: it's delightful!

  19. 4 out of 5

    Shirley Schwartz

    This book is mesmerizing. At first glance it seems so simple, but as you get further in, you realize how complex these characters are. And yes, this book is about the characters. The time frame for the book is about 24 hours, and it takes place in a sleepy little town called Juliet which is smack dab in the middle of the Little Snake sandhills. This area is close to Swift Current, Saskatchewan, and it is where I was born and grew up. I loved the walk down memory lane with the area in southern Sa This book is mesmerizing. At first glance it seems so simple, but as you get further in, you realize how complex these characters are. And yes, this book is about the characters. The time frame for the book is about 24 hours, and it takes place in a sleepy little town called Juliet which is smack dab in the middle of the Little Snake sandhills. This area is close to Swift Current, Saskatchewan, and it is where I was born and grew up. I loved the walk down memory lane with the area in southern Saskatchewan that I know so well. But I truly loved the study in human nature that I found between the covers. In a deceptively simple language and beautifully descriptive prose, Ms. Warren explores human nature in a truly unique way, by a number of seemingly unattached characters, we get to see what human nature is really like. There are about 10 or 12 characters in this book that are going about their daily business. We have a recently bereaved young man who has lost the two main people in his life. We have him coming to terms with his life which began as a foundling in a laundry basket on a porch. He discovers himself as he rides a horse for 100 miles in this one day, in the sandhills. We have a young mother who is just trying to keep her large family together while all that they hold dear is at risk of disappearing because of unpaid debts. Vicki is a scatter-brained, but sweet woman who is trying to remain positive for her family in the midst of the chaos. Then we have a frustrated bank manager who has such a strange day while trying to arrange things in his life and his daughter's who is pregnant at 18 and planning to marry the feckless teenager who got her in the position she is in. Unfortuantely, his day does not end well at all, but it does cause his shallow wife to reexamine her life and goals. I could go on, but I'd have to go on for as long as this book. I just recommend that you read it, It is truly a marvel and a worthy winner of the Governor General's fiction award. And it certainly reaffirms my faith in Canadian fiction.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Krista

    You can tell me that your dog ran away Then tell me that it took three days I've heard every joke I've heard every one you'd say You think there's not a lot goin' on Look closer baby, you're so wrong And that's why you can stay so long Where there's not a lot goin' on All I really know about Saskatchewan: This theme song and the show it's from, Corner Gas; one brief trip I took as a teenager to see the orchids at Cypress Hills; stories about the ranch in Eastend that's in my husband's family; and You can tell me that your dog ran away Then tell me that it took three days I've heard every joke I've heard every one you'd say You think there's not a lot goin' on Look closer baby, you're so wrong And that's why you can stay so long Where there's not a lot goin' on All I really know about Saskatchewan: This theme song and the show it's from, Corner Gas; one brief trip I took as a teenager to see the orchids at Cypress Hills; stories about the ranch in Eastend that's in my husband's family; and the fact that the province, with its crops and valuable natural resources, has recently become an economic powerhouse, propping up the failing manufacturing economies of Ontario and Quebec. Reading Cool Water is kind of like the Corner Gas theme song: You think there's not a lot going on, but you need to look closer because you'd be wrong. Recounting one day in the lives of six or so families in rural Saskatchewan, this book has no jaw-droppingly extraordinary events, no clever moral to illustrate, not even any passages of beautiful prose that I wanted to mark and save. It just putters along, visiting one and then another of the families, and then, stealthily, it worked its magic and I found myself caring about the characters -- so much so that more than one final scene with a family or couple left me in tears (not that they necessarily had sad endings, but they were emotional nonetheless). Dianne Warren obviously loves the landscape and people of Saskatchewan and writes with truth and humour (I was charmed by everything about Antoinette the camel). As I said, I wasn't particularly impressed with any individual passage, but this book as a whole was an enjoyable experience. I feel as though Warren, in the words of the character Lee's adoptive parents, has given me a good map and used me well.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Louise

    Okay, try as I might, I just couldn’t get into this book at all. I found it quite boring and lacking flow, the characters were boring and not very well developed, the story moved way too slowly and I just couldn’t force myself to finish it. So...in lieu of a review, I’ve left you with the synopsis from inside the front cover of the book. Perhaps someone else might find this novel fantastic, you just can’t please all of the people, all of the time. “JULIET, Saskatchewan. You might imagine that not Okay, try as I might, I just couldn’t get into this book at all. I found it quite boring and lacking flow, the characters were boring and not very well developed, the story moved way too slowly and I just couldn’t force myself to finish it. So...in lieu of a review, I’ve left you with the synopsis from inside the front cover of the book. Perhaps someone else might find this novel fantastic, you just can’t please all of the people, all of the time. “JULIET, Saskatchewan. You might imagine that not much happens in this dusty oasis on the edge of the Little Snake sand hills, its inhabitants caught in the limbo between a century-old promise of prosperity and whatever lies ahead. But the hills vibrate with life, and the town’s heart beats in the rich and overlapping stories of its people: the foundling afraid to accept responsibility for the farm his adoptive parents left him; a shy couple, well beyond middle-age, struggling with the recognition of their feelings for one another; a mother of six troubled by recurrent dreams of a plane crashing in her backyard. And somewhere, lost in the sand, a camel named Antoinette. As Juliet’s characters go about the business of their daily lives, navigating the all-too-human reality of miscommunications, fumbled dreams, expected detours and even unmarked victories, they discover, too, moments of grace, compassion and beauty-moments to remind them that, despite it all, they will find their way forward. At once witty and perceptive, deeply moving and profound, Cool Water is a timeless story of the mysteries of everyday life.”

  22. 5 out of 5

    LibraryCin

    Juliet is a small town (just over 1,000 people) in Southern Saskatchewan, near Swift Current. This book follows some of the town residents (and local farmers) for one day. We meet Lee, who has taken over his “family” farm (we learn early on, that Lester and Astrid were not his biological parents); Norval, the town banker, whose daughter, just out of high school, is pregnant and is getting married… neither she nor her fiance are particularly responsible; Blaine, whose farm has failed and he is ha Juliet is a small town (just over 1,000 people) in Southern Saskatchewan, near Swift Current. This book follows some of the town residents (and local farmers) for one day. We meet Lee, who has taken over his “family” farm (we learn early on, that Lester and Astrid were not his biological parents); Norval, the town banker, whose daughter, just out of high school, is pregnant and is getting married… neither she nor her fiance are particularly responsible; Blaine, whose farm has failed and he is having trouble making ends meet for him and his family, including six children; and more. I really enjoyed this. I grew up in a small town/farming community in Southern Sask, and loved reading about the area, though this town was meant to be (I believe it’s a fictional town) just north of the Trans-Canada highway by the sand dunes, whereas I lived a ways south of the highway. Either way, it’s not fast-paced, but I was drawn in and interested in the characters, anyway. It actually reminded me a bit of Kent Haruf’s books and his small town characters. It does switch between characters quite frequently, but – for the most part – I was able to fairly quickly figure out who was who and whose perspective we were getting each time.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Antoinette

    I really liked this book. Takes place in small town Saskatchewan. What I liked was that it was about ordinary people with secrets and problem. It started off with some of the principal characters having trouble sleeping and ended with more sleeplessness. I loved the way it encompassed 24 hours and how much changed for these people in that time. There was an underlying feeling of anxiety throughout- you could sense that something bad was going to happen- just not sure when and to whom. I feel lik I really liked this book. Takes place in small town Saskatchewan. What I liked was that it was about ordinary people with secrets and problem. It started off with some of the principal characters having trouble sleeping and ended with more sleeplessness. I loved the way it encompassed 24 hours and how much changed for these people in that time. There was an underlying feeling of anxiety throughout- you could sense that something bad was going to happen- just not sure when and to whom. I feel like I went on a journey with these people as well. Slow meandering book but well worth the read!!

  24. 5 out of 5

    Kelley

    ARC Received from Goodreads.com Giveaway Dianne Warren's first novel, "Juliet in August", is a slice-of-life story of a town and it's inhabitants. Juliet is a small town in Western Canada; a typical small town where everyone knows everyone else's business. This is the story of a few days in the lives of the banker, the down-and-out rancher, and the jealous wife of a cowboy. These characters, among many others, are brought to life with a refreshing brilliance. The best part of all--we know exactly ARC Received from Goodreads.com Giveaway Dianne Warren's first novel, "Juliet in August", is a slice-of-life story of a town and it's inhabitants. Juliet is a small town in Western Canada; a typical small town where everyone knows everyone else's business. This is the story of a few days in the lives of the banker, the down-and-out rancher, and the jealous wife of a cowboy. These characters, among many others, are brought to life with a refreshing brilliance. The best part of all--we know exactly who these people are and can even interchange them with people we really know.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Judy

    The first half of the book: 3-stars, the 3rd quarter: 3.5 stars, and the last quarter: 4 stars. While I was reading, Kent Haruf kept coming to mind. Both authors set their stories in small grassland towns, both have well-developed realistic characters. Haruf has a traditional plot. Warren uses a short-story approach, with each story focusing on a particular person, weaving from one character to the next and back again, with each reaching a conclusion (of sorts).

  26. 4 out of 5

    Tami

    Loved this story and did not want it to end. It's slow paced but after you get to know these characters,that ends up being a good thing - a very good thing. The ending was quite satisfying. No loose pieces. I consider this book the perfect weekend read. (I'm so glad I didn't have laundry to do the past couple days.) Loved this story and did not want it to end. It's slow paced but after you get to know these characters,that ends up being a good thing - a very good thing. The ending was quite satisfying. No loose pieces. I consider this book the perfect weekend read. (I'm so glad I didn't have laundry to do the past couple days.)

  27. 4 out of 5

    Mls3

    Loved, loved, loved this book. It's the best book I've read all summer. It is beautifully written and the stories have a universal quality, yet clearly evoke the unique landscape where they take place. I will be reading more from Dianne Warren. I can't wait... Loved, loved, loved this book. It's the best book I've read all summer. It is beautifully written and the stories have a universal quality, yet clearly evoke the unique landscape where they take place. I will be reading more from Dianne Warren. I can't wait...

  28. 4 out of 5

    Janet Berkman

    Cool Water is a novel, but with a lyrical structure of intertwined short stories. Set in a small Saskatchewan town, it follows the lives of individuals and families over the period of a few days. As in a small town where everyone knows everyone's business, these stories intersect. The reader is able to look down on the town and watch as the stories overlap and interconnect. We read of a mother struggling to cope with her children as the family farm is in the process of being repossessed; the ban Cool Water is a novel, but with a lyrical structure of intertwined short stories. Set in a small Saskatchewan town, it follows the lives of individuals and families over the period of a few days. As in a small town where everyone knows everyone's business, these stories intersect. The reader is able to look down on the town and watch as the stories overlap and interconnect. We read of a mother struggling to cope with her children as the family farm is in the process of being repossessed; the bank manager who knows too much about too many people in the town; a young man, adopted by Norwegian immigrants, who has inherited their farm and is anxious about his ability to manage it; a woman passing through town who loses a horse, inadvertently causing a rift between the owner of a diner and her husband; and a man and the widow of his brother who share a home and run the town's drive-in. While it is true to say that many of these tales are of loneliness, it's not a depressing book. Rather, we watch how people cope with being alone, with striving to make a life in a small town where possibilities of social intercourse are perhaps limited. The setting is rural, but the emotions of living with others but still feeling alone, or of living alone and dwelling in the past could really take place anywhere. Warren's characters are incredibly rich and well-drawn and I felt drawn into their lives. She has created a world that, as the reader, you fell you inhabit. The dryness of blowing sand, the heat off the sidewalk, the sweat under a saddle all jump off the page. An ideal summer read. Recommended!

  29. 4 out of 5

    Emilie

    http://edwardsmagazinebookclub.com/20... Published by HarperCollins 2010 It’s amazing how, when I mention Canadian literature, people’s eyes glaze over and their mouths are filled with angst and prairie dust and memories of having to read Who Has Seen the Wind in high school English classes. However, this book is a wonderful example of everything that Who Has Seen the Wind was not. The prairies surrounding the fictional town of Juliet are dry and hot and dusty, and not much seems to happen, but it http://edwardsmagazinebookclub.com/20... Published by HarperCollins 2010 It’s amazing how, when I mention Canadian literature, people’s eyes glaze over and their mouths are filled with angst and prairie dust and memories of having to read Who Has Seen the Wind in high school English classes. However, this book is a wonderful example of everything that Who Has Seen the Wind was not. The prairies surrounding the fictional town of Juliet are dry and hot and dusty, and not much seems to happen, but it is the busy interior lives of the characters that compel the reader and the intricacies of their daily lives that move the storylines along. It is called Cool Water: A Novel, but it really does read more like a series of linked stories. I love short fiction, so this didn’t bother me at all, and in fact, made me more interested in the characters, as I could get the stories in pieces and it made me excited to get back to the ones I was most interested in...

  30. 5 out of 5

    Eric Wright

    In many ways this is a charming story about a small town in Saskatchewan on the edge of the Little Snake Sand Hills. The characters are quirky and interesting although quite ordinary--the kind of characters you'd probably find in many locations. The book is character driven but there is a problem--too many characters with hard to recognize interwoven stories all of which the author breaks up into segments, not chapters, in rather long sections. The scheme doesn't work for me. I'm just getting to In many ways this is a charming story about a small town in Saskatchewan on the edge of the Little Snake Sand Hills. The characters are quirky and interesting although quite ordinary--the kind of characters you'd probably find in many locations. The book is character driven but there is a problem--too many characters with hard to recognize interwoven stories all of which the author breaks up into segments, not chapters, in rather long sections. The scheme doesn't work for me. I'm just getting to know one character when she drops that one and moves to another. Maybe I'm too traditional. I'd rate it higher for characters but as a total book, sorry just 2 stars.

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