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.