Water Witches

Water Witches

3.6 8
by Chris Bohjalian
     
 

View All Available Formats & Editions

Vermont is drying up. The normally lush, green countryside is in the grip of the worst drought in years: stunted cornstalks rasp in the hot July breeze, parched vegetable gardens wither and die, the Chittenden River shrinks to a trickle, and the drilling trucks are booked solid as one by one the wells give out. Patience Avery, known nationwide as a gifted

Overview

Vermont is drying up. The normally lush, green countryside is in the grip of the worst drought in years: stunted cornstalks rasp in the hot July breeze, parched vegetable gardens wither and die, the Chittenden River shrinks to a trickle, and the drilling trucks are booked solid as one by one the wells give out. Patience Avery, known nationwide as a gifted "water witch," is having a busy summer, too. Using the tools of the dowser's trade — divining sticks, metal rods, bobbers, and pendulums — she can locate, among other things, aquifers deep within the earth. In the midst of this crisis, Scottie Winston lobbies for permits to expand Powder Peak, a local ski area that's his law firm's principal client. As part of the expansion, the resort seeks to draw water for snowmaking from the beleaguered Chittenden, despite opposition from environmentalists who fear that the already weakened river will be damaged beyond repair.

What ensues in Chris Bohjalian's fourth novel is a struggle between conservation and development, rugged tradition versus inevitable progress. But it is also a tale of the clash between science and mystery, a chronicle of one man's transformation from cynic to believer. Vivid with the texture of New England ways, alive with characters both quirky and real, informed by the ongoing, real-life battles between environmentalism and economic expansion in Vermont, Water Witches is a story of ineffable forces, tenuous balances, "and perhaps something about our abilities as a people to heal and forgive and to love."

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
In a moving, life-affirming novel suffused with ecological wisdom, a Vermont ski resort's plans for expansion collide with environmentalists seeking to preserve a mountainous wildlife habitat and riverine ecosystem. Narrator Scott Winston, a transplanted New York City lawyer who represents the ski resort, switches allegiance after he and his nine-year-old daughter spot three mountain lions in an area targeted for clearing. Complicating matters is the envy that Scott's pragmatic wife, Laura, a native Vermonter, feels toward her famed sister, Patience Avery, a dowser (water witch) who also opposes the ski resort and whose talent for locating underground springs, missing persons or lost objects with a divining rod figures prominently in the novel's denouement. The struggle between the developers and their opponents culminates in an environmental board hearing that has all the dramatic excitement of a courtroom trial. With wit, insight and mordant irony, Bohjalian (Past the Bleachers) charts Scott's metamorphosis from rationalistic materialist and skeptic to one who believes in higher powers and the interconnectedness of all life. In a refreshing twist, instead of offering a bucolic idyll, the author takes us through a Vermont beset by drought, a declining ski industry, unemployment and endangered ecosystems. (Mar.)
Library Journal
Ecologically devastating oil spills, electromagnetic radiation, vegetarian Not Dogs-all the "green" issues of the day are present and accounted for in this topical offering from the author of the much-praised baseball novel Past the Bleachers (LJ 5/1/92), which is set, fittingly, in the Green Mountain country of Vermont. With the cards so stacked against him, it's a measure of Bohjalian's talent that rather than giving us mere personifications of Big Ideas, he's able to create fully realized characters we can care about-like his protagonist, a small-town lawyer who faces a crisis of conscience when he finds himself caught up in the familiar conflict between Jobs (in this case, the ski industry) and The Environment. The extensive dowsing lore that runs through the narrative like an underground stream is a bonus delight. Recommended for public libraries.-David Sowd, formerly with Stark Cty. District Lib., Canton, Ohio
From the Publisher
“I was charmed by the mixture of country lore and planning boards, New Age witches and old-fashioned family duties, and I was glad that I read on to the novel's appealing conclusion, drenched as it is with abiding devotion and love. For anyone interested in the way we live with the land, on the land today, this novel makes for a thoughtful evening or two of entertaining reading.”—Alan Cheuse, All Things Considered

“A moving, life-affirming novel.”—Publishers Weekly

“Bohjalian has a fine hand with light, weather, the color and curve of the land . . . [he] has constructed an arresting drama . . . as welcome as rain on a parched garden.”—New York Newsday

“Bouyant and brilliant.” —Kirkus Reviews

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780684826127
Publisher:
Touchstone
Publication date:
04/28/1997
Series:
Hardscrabble Books: Fiction of New England
Edition description:
Reprint
Pages:
352
Sales rank:
515,266
Product dimensions:
5.40(w) x 8.20(h) x 0.80(d)
Lexile:
950L (what's this?)

What People are saying about this

Cathie Pelletier
“A bewitching tale from New England by a writer with a generous heart for his subjects, and respect for a landscape he clearly loves. Chris Bohjalian's voice is as steady and sure as Vermont rain.”

Meet the Author

CHRIS BOHJALIAN is author of the bestselling novel Midwives, as well as Trans-sister Radio. The Law of Similars, Past the Bleachers, Hangman, and A Killing in the Real World, in addition to numerous articles and reviews in publications such as the New York Times, Boston Globe, Reader's Digest, and Vermont Life. Past the Bleachers was filmed as a television movie by Hallmark.

Brief Biography

Hometown:
Lincoln, Vermont
Date of Birth:
August 12, 1961
Place of Birth:
White Plains, New York
Education:
Amherst College
Website:
http://www.chrisbohjalian.com

Customer Reviews

Average Review:

Write a Review

and post it to your social network

     

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

See all customer reviews >

Water Witches 3.3 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 9 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
A different kind of read for me, but found it to be engaging, with characters you wanted to know better.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Guest More than 1 year ago
I really enjoyed this book, as I do all of bohjalian's. what's cool, is that I learn about something from all of them--dowsing, homeopathy, transexuals, midwivery...and the stories he uses to tell us about these things are all so interesting. You can't put the book down. I just discovered this author a few months back, and now have read everything he has written. I reccomend them all. I thought this book was pretty easy to 'get into' It was a little hard to remember who everyone was. But I found the characters interesting & likable.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I thought it was slow and a little boring. I kept waiting for the action to happen. Little character development. I wanted to know more dowsing.
Guest More than 1 year ago
wow! Disappointing. A long and tedious read. The title is great (and misleading), I wish the book had been about dowsing, but I found it to be more about local beaurocracy.