Customer Reviews: Water Witches
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on February 20, 2002
Chris Bohjalian's book, Water Witches, is a fascinating study of one Vermont family. Laura and her daughter Miranda are "water witches" - they are able to use rods, and their intuition, to advise people where to place wells so as to have clear, drinkable water in their homes. Laura's sister is also a dowser - however her power extends beyond water, and she is able to find lost items and people.
Scottie is married to Laura. After moving to Vermont, he took the highest-paid job he could find, as a lobbyist for the ski industry. While he has built a name for himself, this job has pitted him against environmental activists. However, Scottie finds himself in a bind when his current employer, Powder Peak, wants to build new trails and tap a depleted river for water to make snow. Scottie, however, becomes a reluctant convert to the environmentalists' point of view when he spies a catamount, an endangered Vermont mountain, where the ski resort was planning on placing the trails. He must wrestle with himself and his commitments to do the right thing.
The ending of the story is incredibly powerful, and winds these two tales together with astonishing grace.
Overall, this book is highly recommended for fans of Bohjalian's other books, including Midwives, and readers who are interested in the often delicate balance between environmental preservation and economic growth.
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on September 9, 2011
I enjoyed this book more for the information then the characters..the author researched the topic relentlessly..very good info. .. My mother is a water witch..and she can find water anywhere and everywhere..My mom really enjoyed the novel..thank you for the great researching of the topic.
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on October 7, 2005
I am a huge fan of Bohjalian's "Midwives" and could not wait to read this book. While it is not his best (in my humble opinion) it is certainly worth the time to read it. The sisters' problem with the community is a wonderful statement on the difficulties of being different in today's society. What truelly continues to amaze me is that Bohjalian speaks through a woman's eyes so knowingly, hard to believe it is written by a man.
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on October 31, 2000
I found Water Witches to be a surprisingly engaging story. No over-the-top midwives or larger-than-life heroes here: the tale is populated by a bunch of ordinary people trying to do the right thing as best they can. Even the magic is low-key. Thus, the story isn't really just about the conflict between environment/development -- it's an extended character study of a man who has to make decisions that can't please everyone. Bohjalian propels the narrative along a little unevenly, but that only adds to the small-town, real-life feel of it.
This was a quick read that I thoroughly enjoyed.
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on June 4, 2002
Having just read Robert L. Park's Voodoo Science: The Road from Foolishness to Fraud, Chris Bohjalian's Water Witches came to my attention. The two books take completely different approaches. Voodoo Science is a non-fiction examination of extraordinary claims from a purely rational viewpoint; Water Witches is a fictional account of humanity's deep need to believe in the mystical. Read together, the two complement one another in a remarkable fashion (although surely Park would cringe to hear me say so), for after all, even if the rational mind ever is able to explain everything, it surely still will not satisfy our desire for the divine.
Divination or dowsing, not just hunting for water but seeking contact with an outer force, is the root of the mystical in Bohjalian's book, which pits this extraordinary force against not the rationality of science but the economic force of the modern businessman. Bohjalian is fair to both sides for the most part but certainly loads things in favor of the supernatural at the end. This I found to be the greatest flaw of the book--the dowser's power was so strong, so consistent and so universally recognized throughout the area that what should have been a matter of faith became instead matter-of-fact, and the vision that came with such difficulty to the main character will seem obvious to most readers well in advance. But the gentle story is attractive and the characters well drawn. The protagonist's journey from rationalist to believer was convincing within the context Bohjalian creates. Robert Park most likely wouldn't enjoy this book, and neither will real estate developers, action fans or seekers of the dark occult arts. But the rest of us are likely to find a lovely insight into what we hope is true.
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on June 30, 2004
I found this book much more "realistic" than "Midwives" I could relate to it! In fact, I was caught between reality and the book while I was reading it on a recent June visit to my daughter's in VT!! I actually kept forgetting that VT was NOT experiencing a drought while I was visiting!! Caught myself turning off the water while brushing my teeth, looking at the Winooski River for low levels, and observing the countryside in general for signs of "drought"!!
Chris Bohjalian is a master story teller in a "kinder and gentler" way!! His beautiful descriptions of the VT countryside, the numerous SMALL towns, and the life these people lead are exactly what I have encountered on my numerous visits to the state! But the really compelling story he tells is of the encroachment of business, homes, development on our beatiful and old New England towns. I live in one of these in CT. We have no beautiful catamounts as in Bohjalian's story, but the deer and bear in our area are being squeezed out by development! This is the case in a lot of New England. I could certainly relate to this story, but even people in inner-cities would certainly hate to see what little is left of our beautiful "country" destroyed! Where would they go on weekends to get OUT of the city? Bravo, Chris, for a beautiful story!!!!
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on November 16, 2013
An early Bohjalian that deals with water usage and the conflict between industrial usage and conservation of dwindling resources. Despite that, the story does not have a sense of being dated. Some might object to a rather simplistic formula and the reliance on dowsing, but Bohjalian always delivers a taut story and well-developed characters. I have read four of his fifteen books and enjoyed them all. Just purchased the Sandcastle Girls and look forward to reading it.
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on December 3, 2012
I have read and enjoyed nearly all of this author's writing. No matter what the subject, his presentation is excellent. That said, I found the information contained in the book to be very interesting, but some of his other books have set a high expectation level, which the story line did not quite meet. Still, a good read.
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on September 7, 2012
Water Witches was a great read. Reading about Vermont made me feel close to home. I will definitely read more books by this author. It was hard to put the book down so it turned into a fast read for me. If you haven't read it yet, do so. I don't think you will be sorry you did.
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on October 9, 2000
The story, at heart, of one man's acceptance of who he is. Scottie Winston is a lobbiest for several large resorts in Vermont. Resorts which use (or abuse) the environment. He is also married into a family of dousers, who, along with many others, oppose the current development in their neck of the woods. Through the processes of time, the timely intervention of three wildcats, and, most of all, love for his wife and daughter, he becomes true to himself. This is a nicely written book, with well-defined characters, a coherent plot, and a happy ending.
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