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3.5 out of 5 stars
Cool Water
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13 of 14 people found the following review helpful
Often I will sit and peruse the cover of a book before opening it and starting to read, wondering what connection the cover has to the story inside. I love the feel of diners and those postcards promised a good story....

Cool Water takes place in tiny Juliet, Saskatchewan over the course of two days. In rotating chapters we follow the lives of a few of the inhabitants.

Lee was a foundling, taken in by the Torgesons. They've passed on and he's now alone on the farm they've left him, unsure of himself and his place in life. Blaine and Vicki Dolson have six children - and a truckload of debt. Local banker Norval Birch has always followed the rules, but begins to question what he's really accomplished in life. Willard and his brother's widow Marian have shared the same house for nine years. They are unable to identify and act on the fact that they love one another. Lynn questions her husband's faithfullness when she finds a woman's phone number in his pocket.

None of these scenarios are earth shattering, but that is the genius behind Cool Water. There's nothing special about the characters - they're just everyday people trying to do the best they can. We become privy to the happenings behind closed doors, the feelings, emotions and memories of the characters.

Dianne Warren's prose are simple, yet eloquent and aching. The inhabitants and the town of Juliet are so clearly drawn, I had very defined mental images of both. Warren has captured the feel of small town perfectly. Living near a town of the same size, I found myself walking down Main Street the other day, looking at those I met on the sidewalk just a little bit differently.

Tying many of these stories together was a horse, both present and from the past. The horse is prominent in Lee's journey as he unwittingly recreates a hundred mile ride from the past. Lee's story touched me the most of all the characters. I was surprised by the redemption of Norval's wife Lila. At first she came across as distinctly unlikeable, but as events unfolded I was caught off guard by her reaction. But Vicki was another character who I related to - the thought of cutting and blanching bushels of beans is daunting, yet I too do it year after year.

Warren was a Canadian author new to me, but one I encourage you to discover. An absolute five star read.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on October 5, 2011
Take a drink of Cool Water with Dianne Warren's wonderful book set in the sand dunes of Southern Saskatchewan. Her novel, in the form of interconnected stories, paints a complex picture of a place in time and the people who live there.
The opening chapter, or prologue describes a long-distance horse race that took place in the district many years earlier. Starting at the buffalo rubbing stone just to the north of what was then the settlement of Juliet, two cowboys proceeded 25 miles north, then west, south, and east, finally returning to the stone, outlining a 100-mile perimeter around the Little Snake Hills. The path of the race sets the parameters for the rest of the story.
Lee Torgenson awakens in the middle of the night to the sound of hoofbeats. Assuming they are the phantom hoofbeats that plague him most nights, he thinks nothing of it, until he finally gets up and discovers a real horse in his yard. The horse does not protest when Lee saddles him, and so, with the moon shining down on them, they begin their 24-hour adventure together. Lee inadvertently starts out on the same path as the historic horse race. Learning about the race at the half-way point, he decides to continue on the same route.
Although Lee's adventure starts the action, and literally draws a boundary around the story, there are many other tales that unfold and each of the stories is connected in some way to one or another. As Lee travels throughout the day, he sees or visits different farms and homesteads and we get a glimpse of the people who live there and see how their lives crisscross and intertwine. We witness interactions between a cowboy and a rebellious teenager, a bank manager and a father at the end of his rope. We see an older couple trying to make a connection with each other and a father communicating with his son, however briefly. One woman loses her horse and another is afraid she's lost a husband. We see how someone's innocent action earlier in the day has repercussions later, so that leaving a gate open, or writing down a phone number, can have potentially disastrous consequences.
This is a very satisfying book. Warren describes her complex, appealing characters in a very warm-hearted, straightforward manner. Through them, she reminds us that we are all connected. We live our lives and each of us has our own story but we are inextricably linked to others, no matter how ephemerally and whether or not we are aware of that connection and its possible effect. Not a new idea perhaps, but somehow comforting nonetheless, and Warren's version of it is a pure pleasure to read.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on January 30, 2011
This is a wonderful book. I loved the characters and felt drawn in to their stories. I thought about them long after the book was finished... that's a sign of a great book, to me! The story takes place over a brief time and it is very compelling. There is something for everyone in this book... I highly recommend it!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on September 18, 2011
A wonderful book. Who knew that the relatively mundane lives of Canadians in small- town Saskatchewan could capture a reader's attention and hold it to this extent?! I thoroughly enjoyed this book and will recommend it to others. In ways, the prose reminded me of Frances Itani - another Canadian author we can be proud to call our own.
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on August 21, 2013
A beautiful look at everyday lives. I couldn't put it down, In fact I read it in just 24 hours.
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