Monday, September 3, 2012

The Surreal Experience Known as "Being Alive"

Book Review: Juliet in August by Dianne Warren

For this reader, what sets a few novels above the majority lies in a rather subjective quality: does the author make me feel the characters, rather than just see them? In a great movie this is that moment when you realize that you weren't just watching the movie, you were in it.

That moment occurred as I was reading Diane Warren's Juliet in August at about the third page. I may be wrong; it might have been closer to the fifth page. That feeling lasted until the end of the book, over the several days I was reading it.

Now I can read as fast as anyone, and I have had those "stayed-up-all-night-reading" events as well. While visiting Juliet (which is a place, not a person), I found myself reading more slowly than usual, taking my time and getting the feel of the country.

There is a flow to living in a small town, and it's not everyone's cup of tea. It moves slower than in the city, but it's there all the same. Faster is not always better -- you miss a lot hurtling down the freeway. The best way to see the world around you is ... on a horse. Preferably a horse that you just found and use to re-enact a legendary 100-mile horse race.

OK, so that's not part of the normal flow of a small town, but it is around this somewhat improbable thread that Warren wraps the stories that make up Juliet. Before long a man on a horse seems no more out-of-place than any of the 'ordinary' events taking place: the day-to-day ebb and flow of life, love, and relationships. Simple small town life? Sure!

Pull up a chair, and dive in to Juliet. I'll make you a cup of tea.