Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Hot Summer in a Small Town

Juliet in August by Dianne Warren
(Putnam / Tantor Media, 2012)
Format: Audio CDs via library (narrated by Cassandra Campbell)

From Goodreads: "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."

This is quiet, introspective, enclosed. And yet expansive and deep and true. Everything takes place in a small town in the Canadian desert of Saskatchewan, where farmers struggle with economics and nature, and townsfolk struggle with economics and business. I didn't suspect, going into it, that I would fall for everyone in Juliet and care so deeply about their moment-to-moment cares. The bank manager had me in tears. I wanted to wrap the rancher on his unexpected horse in a big hug. The mother of six stressed me out with each passing hour of her day. They all just got under my skin, and I kind of love Warren for bringing them to life for my enjoyment.

I'm also glad the Audies brought it to my attention. Although I'm not armchairaudies-ing the Solo Narration - Female category, I checked out that list (and have actually listened to 3 of them now), and was intrigued by this. I'm always up for a Campbell narration, and this is my favorite of the 3 I've heard. (Considering it beats out 2 narrations by Kellgren, to whom I'm devoted, that's saying a lot!) Campbell put me on that horse, and in the diner, and in the car with all those kids, battling a hot day with errands to run and no money to spend on them. I loved how her narrative tone shifted as Warren's focus shifted to another person's story in this book.

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