Friday, October 12, 2012

Review: Juliet in August

by:  Dianne Warren
published by:  Amy Einhorn Books/Putnam
publish date:  July 5, 2012

Juliet, Saskatchewan, is a blink-and-you-miss-it kind of town—a dusty oasis on the edge of the Little Snake sand hills. It’s easy to believe that nothing of consequence takes place there. But the hills vibrate with life, and the town’s heart beats in the rich and overlapping stories of its people: the rancher afraid to accept responsibility for the land his adoptive parents left him; the bank manager grappling with a sudden understanding of his own inadequacy; a shy couple, well beyond middle age, struggling with the recognition of their feelings for each other. And somewhere, lost in the sand, a camel named Antoinette.

Juliet in August tracks the day of several Juliet residents.  One storyline tracks a day in the life of Vicki and Blaine and their six kids.  They are a farming family and barely keeping their heads above water.  Norval is the bank manager that gave Blaine the loans that have his family in such dire straits.  Norval is married to Lila who is trying to arrange a decent wedding for her teenaged, pregnant daughter.  Willard and Marian run the local drive-in.  Willard is Marian's brother in law and they are trying to figure how to maintain their relationship and living situation in the wake of Marian's husband's death.  Then there is Lee, who is keeping up with the farm that his adoptive parents left to him.  He recreates a historic horse ride when he finds an Arabian Horse on his land.

All these stories were woven together perfectly.  The character that made me the most crazy throughout this book was Vicki.  I didn't understand her actions.  I was so frustrated with her and her inability to just do what her husband asked her to do.  Lee and his historical horse race was another storyline that I particularly liked, but I didn't care for the potential revelation of his birth mother towards the end of the book.  I felt like some of that could have been left out.

Despite a few minor quibbles with the book, I found myself really liking it.  It was one of those surprise books, I thought it might be alright, but I wasn't expecting it to be as good as it was.   No, it's not a big exciting thriller or chock full of twists and turns, but it is a really good read and definitely deserving of more attention than it is getting.

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