Synopses & Reviews
In her luminous debut novel, acclaimed writer Dianne Warren captures the honesty of the human spirit and the quest for companionship…
Juliet is a blink-and-you-miss-it kind of town—a dusty oasis on the edge of a vast stretch of sand. It’s easy to believe nothing of consequence happens here, but the hills vibrate with the rich stories of its people: Lee, a rancher afraid to accept responsibility for the land his adoptive parents left him; Norval, the bank manager forced to foreclose on his neighbors; Willard and Marian, a shy couple beyond middle age, fumbling with the recognition of their feelings for each other; Vicki, a mother of six struggling to keep her chaotic household afloat. And somewhere, lost in the sand, a camel named Antoinette.
Juliet in August unfolds over the course of just one night and day in the lives of its characters. Their stories intersect and overlap as the entire spectrum of human comedy and heartbreak is refracted through their little struggles and deeper concerns. With wit, thoughtfulness, and unforgettable characters, Juliet in August confirms Dianne Warren as a powerful new talent.
"Warren's U.S. debut is a delicate exploration of the inner lives of the inhabitants of smalltown Juliet, Saskatchewan, located on the edge of a Canadian desert. Local banker Norval Birch is weighed down by a demanding wife, a pregnant teenage daughter staring down the barrel of a shotgun wedding, and a burdensome understanding of the townsfolk's debts. Lee Torgeson, an adopted 26-year-old and reluctant rancher, struggles to come to terms with the land he has just inherited from his adoptive family, and the blank family history the vast expanse represents. Middle-aged and widowed, Marian lives with her brother-in-law, Willard, the quotidian talk between them suffused with unspoken affection that might revolutionize their relationship. Finally, haunted by the specter of poverty, Blaine and Vicki Dolson fight to maintain their marriage and the family farm, all the while caring for six kids. Though Warren attempts to meaningfully interweave these stories, she is too subtle, making the connections frustratingly opaque. Still, Warren clearly has an intimate understanding of smalltown life, and infuses Juliet with plenty of heart. Agent: Ron Eckel, Cooke International. (July 5)" Publishers Weekly Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
“I was reminded of Carol Shields and the creation of unassuming, matter-of-fact characters who are, in truth, generously complicated. The writing is understated, wry, laconic—as if the place itself could not produce any other kind of story.” —David Bergen
“This is powerful writing—gut-wrenching and inspiring. Its drama is quiet, but in the end you hardly know what hit you.” —Governor General’s Award Jury
“The characters in Juliet in August are as real as the people who live next door, but in these pages Dianne Warren gives us something we can never have with our neighbors—access to their hidden hearts. . . . This is a lovely, life-affirming novel.” —Larry Watson, author of Montana 1948
“Juliet in August is an intricately beautiful novel full of the unexpected triumph of ordinary life.” —Siobhan Fallon, author of You Know When the Men Are Gone
“In an inspired feat of storytelling, Dianne Warren links the daily lives of a compelling cast of characters in a prairie community in ways that are as heart-true as they are surprising. Warm, witty, and wisely crafted, Juliet in August
is a rich and encompassing novel of unforgettable neighbors who become our own.” —Ivan Doig, author of The Whistling Season
With writing reminiscent of Alice Munro, Carol Shields, Larry McMurtry, and Elizabeth Strout, Juliet in August uncovers the incredible drama beneath the inhabitants of a sleepy prairie town. 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.
About the Author
Dianne Warren is the author of short stories and plays. This 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.