by Chris Bohjalian – $19.99
This novel is full of tension – between various family members and between environmentalists and big business.
One of the main characters, Scottie Wilson, portrays some of this tension when he says: “Some people say my wife’s sister is a witch. My sister-in-law is not a witch, at least not literally. She along with my wife and mother-in-law is a dowser. An ability even now being developed by our daughter Miranda. These females in the family are capable of divining underground water with a stick. And unlike my wife and mother-in-law, my sister-in-law, Patience, is an active dowser. She does not merely have the power; she uses it and uses it profitably. Patience is a well-paid dowser. According to her logbook and diary she has now dowsed 1,812 wells, of which 1,500 are in Vermont.” Even with this amazing track record, not everyone respects or trusts the powers of dowsers!
Alongside fascinating characters, the novel brings together the natural beauty of a mountain, a serious drought, and the greed of big business. The mountain: in size, in sheer accessibility there may be no more perfect mountain in the world than Mount Republic, one of the higher mountains in Vermont. It is the highest of the cluster of mountains that comprise the Powder Peak Ski Resort. But now the whole ski industry is on the verge of bankruptcy. The resort needs more snowmaking capacity, which requires water, but drought is a serious problem in Vermont and people’s well are drying up.
Expansion plans are underway. The plan is to tap the Chittenden River for a new snowmaking machine. Scottie, who never expected to represent ski resorts when he went to law school, is representing Schuss Limited, the corporation that owns Powder Peak. Scottie is arguing that the expansion plans will bring more jobs to the community and if the resort does not expand, it may not survive, pitted against him and the corporation, though, are his wife, daughter, mother-in-law, sister-in-law (Patience, the dowser) and Patience’s fiancée, all environmentalists. Vermonters are already concerned with the damage to the river and vegetation because of the nightmarish drought and argue that the river cannot tolerate being drained further to make snow.
And so the question emerges as to whether Scottie’s family and friends can convince him to put his energies into preserving of the river rather than destroying it for monetary gain.
This novel for will appeal to anyone who has ever considered the dilemmas created when business expansion and preserving nature are at odds with one another.
P’lovers’ Book Club’s next book is “When She Woke” by Hillary Jordan