"A comfortable gathering place on The Mountain showcasing NW authors and artists"
Book Review: Juliet in August
| Juliet in August
By Dianne Warren
Publisher: Amy Einhorn Books
Suggested Retail: $25.95
Dianne Warren uses spare, elegant prose to compose this outstanding first novel with very loosely intersecting stories set in Juliet, Saskatchewan (Canada) during a few short days in August. The book has been honored in Canada for good reason – it’s an outstanding book that sweeps you into the quiet, ordinary lives of people in a small town with honest emotion and authentic characters that are easy to believe and to care about.
We meet Lee, a lonely, hard-working and sincere young man who is a bit awkward about the reality of the ranch he has inherited from his adopted parents. When a lost Arabian horse wonders onto the property, Lee impulsively sets out for a ride into the neighboring sand dunes that turns into much more than he had planned. The stray Arabian horse made its escape from a trailer when the female owner stopped at a rest stop after impulsively purchasing the horse on her way to a reunion with her estranged daughter’s family. Gentle trucker Hank who encounters the woman (Janey) on his way back to town takes her number so that he can notify her if he finds the horse. Unfortunately, when he arrives home the note with Janey’s phone number falls from his pocket, causing his wife to go into a completely unwarranted jealous tizzy. Meanwhile his wife Lynn is trying out her new pie recipe on the regulars at the diner, including Willard who lives with his widowed sister-in-law and runs the local drive-in theatre. Both Willard and his sister-in-law Marian have strong feelings for each other that they have not expressed and are not able to fully admit, even to themselves.
The local banker, Norval, is under enormous pressure from his wife Lila who is obsessed with intricate preparations for the soon-to-come wedding of their pregnant daughter to an irresponsible young man who happens to be the father of her child. This is very stressful and difficult for Norval on top of his many business worries about the bank’s financial risks with struggling local farmers like Blaine and Vickie who are trying to raise six kids on their already greatly reduced acreage while Blaine works odd highway construction jobs to try to stay ahead and Vicki dithers time away, afraid to face the reality of potential financial calamity just around the corner.
And so it goes as the many lives in Juliet touch briefly as folks struggle to survive, tragedies great and small occur and must be coped with, surprising revelations cause life to take unexpected turns and neighbors help out neighbors. Sound familiar?Dianne Warren is the author of many short stories and plays. Juliet in August is her first novel. It won the 2010 Governor General’s Award for fiction, one of Canada’s most prestigious literary prizes (published under the title Cool Water). Warren lives in Regina, Saskatchewan.