Sunday, February 27, 2011

Cool Water by Dianne Warren

Set in the sandy hills of southern Saskatchewan and the fictional village of Juliet, this refreshing novel is told in a series of interconnected stories. Family farms are dying, but people still have a connection to their roots on the land and many are finding the transition to the 21st century a bumpy one.

A horse escapes from his transport trailer when a stranger passes through Juliet... A pregnant teenager plans to marry the baby's totally irresponsible father... A young farmer ponders the identity of his birth mother... A bank manager worries about families whose lives will be affected by foreclosures... A wife jumps to the wrong conclusion when she finds a phone number in her husband's pocket...

Readers who love interwoven stories, a complex cast of lonely characters, and a strong sense of place will find lots to appreciate. The tone is hopeful and heart-warming, in spite of hard times in the community.

Readalikes: A Hard Witching by Jacqueline Baker (for short stories in a similar southern Saskatchewan setting); A Song for Nettie Johnson by Gloria Sawai (more small-town Saskatchewan stories); Runaway by Alice Munro (for plumbing the depths of ordinary individuals and their intimate relationships with others); Annabel by Kathleen Winter (for another community - in Labrador - shaped by the landscape).

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