Juliet in August
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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.
at lunch she told Blaine—looking right at the foreman holed up in his truck alone—that she felt sorry for him because he was so short and a pathetic alcoholic to boot. The foreman would have fired her on the spot if he’d overheard that. Blaine admires Justine’s spunk. She’s completely different from Vicki, who was so innocent and naive at Justine’s age. Vicki even liked to be tickled—still does—and reminded Blaine of a little girl. He remembers the day they were married in the United church in
looks back and watches it settle in the sand, and wonders how long it will be before it’s completely covered. He thinks again of Willard’s camel, wonders if her remains are buried out here somewhere. He pictures a dead camel with clouds of sand blowing over its body, creating a mound, the beginnings of a new dune. Is this how the ancient Egyptians came up with the idea of the pyramids, after watching the wind build massive sand monuments over the dead bodies of camels and horses? As the sand
Daisy to the health center and have her arm checked by the doctor. Mrs. Jackson thinks so, too. Vicki doesn’t have a clue what to do about the paint. “What a mess” is all she can think of to say. Mrs. Jackson is thinking the same thing, but she hustles the family to the front of the store, saying, “Never mind that. Just get her to the center. Poor little thing. I hope the doctor is in.” There’s only one doctor, and he covers the health centers in three communities. Vicki says that she’ll come
girlfriends, in this age of e-mail and text messaging. She crosses the street and takes the first right onto a block of new houses, split-levels with double garages and landscaping. He doesn’t want to know where she lives, but he can still see her and so he watches as she turns up the walk of the second house from the corner. She was just playing with me, he thinks. Now that she’s gone, it’s as clear as day. Blaine steps out of the truck and goes into the post office to pick up his own mail. He
distraction, how he’s getting home and whether someone will have to drive back to town for him. So everything will be all right after all, and anyway, what’s another day? What does it matter whether the beans get done today or tomorrow? There are just a few hours of darkness—one sleep, as the kids say—between this day and the next, just like there’s only a breath between being alive and being dead. She heard someone say that on the radio once—some famous person who was dying, one of those people