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Water Witches

3.57  ·  Rating details ·  3,560 ratings  ·  315 reviews
From the bestselling author of Midwives and The Flight Attendant, a comic and life affirming novel of the clash between progress and tradition, science and magic: “one of the most elegantly philosophical, urgent—yet somehow timeless—novels of these perilous times” (Howard Norman, National Book Award finalist for The Bird Artist).

Vermont is drying up. The normally lush, gre
Paperback, 352 pages
Published April 8th 1997 by Touchstone (first published 1995)
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Jun 18, 2017 rated it it was ok
Chris Bohjalian is one of those authors from whom I never know what to expect. I have loved some of his work, I have been indifferent to much of it as well. None of it is terrible, but if it were not for those that shine, I would have deserted him long ago. This one, unfortunately, falls into the “not so good” category for me.

Can’t anyone write a book without an obvious political agenda anymore? Must all the people of the world be either wealthy and corrupt or new-age, tree-hugging and caring.
Patricia Williams
May 30, 2017 rated it really liked it
Another really good book by this author. I learned a lot about environmental issues in the Skiing communities in Vermont and also was very uplifted by the love of the main character for his family and his state. Would definitely recommend.
Sep 20, 2008 rated it really liked it
Recommended to Emily by: I came across it myself, prompting me to then read all his books in the order written (excepting the first and Skeletons of the Feast
Chris Bohjalian's books take two or three issues that people tend to have strong opinions about, and somehow make them all come together into one cohesive novel where the issues are not the stars of the story and no bias on his part is revealed, as well as no conclusion provided. The issues are there without being introduced, and the story line does not focus on them, but rather weaves through them. The books are written in a flowing way that draws you in and makes you want to keep reading till ...more
Mar 20, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: fiction
How does a prolonged drought affect a small town, its businesses and inhabitants, especially when some of those people have the unique ability to "dowse" for water underground? The title implies a mystical tale, but it's far from that. Instead, it focuses on common people and ordinary problems, moral dilemmas and the sheer impossibility of determining at times what is good for some vs. good for all. Small town politics at its finest! I liked Scott Winston best because I felt he was the most rela ...more
May 23, 2008 rated it it was amazing
This one of Chris Bohjalian's earlier works, but I could not tell this from reading it. I felt that it was just as good as his more recent works. Set with the backdrop of his typical Vermont beauty, Bohjalian introduces the topic of dowsing (which I had never heard of), which plays a significant role in the lives of all of the characters in the novel. The story has a mixture of mystery and magic and has a great deal of humor throughout.
Elizabeth Vanderesch
Surprise, surprise, another Bohjalian novel set in Vermont with a trial and a lawyer with a conflict between his job and his conscience, a strong group of women with unusual occupations and an adorable, highly gifted daughter. Hmmm. Why do I keep reading his books? I suppose because he's a really good story teller and in these days of facts and figures and "reality", we all need a good story just for it's own sake.
Sep 29, 2007 rated it did not like it
Recommends it for: no one.
Shelves: for-book-club
Boring. Not compelling. Do not recommend.
Jul 19, 2018 rated it it was ok
I couldn’t finish this. I love this author, but the plot wasn’t quick enough and the characters weren’t compelling enough to keep going.

I did learn a lot about dowsing!
One of my fav reads. Read this book after we had to have a well dug on my mother-in-law's farm. When the well company came to give an estimate, they brought this sweet little old man who looked about 100 years old. He walked the property with an L-rod until he ascertained where they should begin the drilling. I was fascinated, and looked for books about dowsing. Since I generally read fiction, I found this book and loved the story. Would recommend it to anyone who is interested in dowsing, New A ...more
It was a bit odd to read a book set in Vermont during the summer...about a ski resort & all the talk about making snow....while seeing it snow outside.

One thing I like about Bohjalian is that he makes every novel unique. Different characters, setting, situations, issues. This isn't a complicated read but covers issues in a small town/state between business and jobs vs. the environment. Hard for things not to get personal!
Apr 30, 2009 rated it liked it
This novel revolved around dowsing, something I had no prior knowledge about. Dowsing or water witching (hence the name of the novel) is the practice of locating hidden water wells, buried metals, gemstones, or other objects. However, the main theme is honesty. The narrator is a highly paid attorney who is forced to make a drastic decision in order to keep his young daughter's respect. I definitely think Midwives was more entertaining, but this was still a rather interesting book.
Nov 04, 2015 rated it did not like it
I read this book for my book club and if it had not been for that I would have stopped reading it. The whole book lacked emotion and a sense of direction. I really couldn't tell you what this book was about and what was accomplished. The female characters could have been so much more than the flat, boring characters that they were.
Tori Miller
Apr 14, 2008 rated it liked it
Recommends it for: Jule, people who like Chris Bohjalian books
I have read 3 of Chris's other books and I liked all of the others a lot better than this one, but I did enjoy it. I had never even heard of dowsing so the book was interesting. Like his other books you feel like you are learning something while you read the novel. The book is over 10 years old but I thought it came across as even more relevant today since environmental concern is growing.
Jul 23, 2009 rated it it was ok
You know how stories are supposed to have the introduction, the rising action, the climax and the closing? This story pretty much doesn't have the middle two parts. Maybe it's because the idea of a drought in a town isn't that exciting to me. It did have the ethical struggle that his other books have, but this one was much less heart-wrenching and kind of un-exciting.
Jun 07, 2015 rated it really liked it
I was looking for a light read, and this book fit the bill. I was afraid it would be an environmentalist attack of evil business, but found it treated the various points of view with a tender touch. Politics aside, it has a good story, interesting Vermont characters. Entertaining and well written.
Sarah Leclerc
Jun 02, 2017 rated it it was ok
This was probably one of my least favorite books he has written. It was super slow to get into and seemed like it took forever just to figure out where the story was going. Once the story picks up it's interesting but not captivating.
Kate S
Sep 05, 2015 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2015, crixus
Another nice story. This was a light read. It was a lovely way to enjoy a lazy afternoon.
Isabel Mansfield
Jun 22, 2012 rated it really liked it
I loved this book great characters
Aug 24, 2014 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2014
Easy summer read, one of the better by Bohjalian. Little freaky reading it while watching the lake levels get really low here in the Laurentiens....
Vicki Davis
Nov 17, 2016 rated it it was amazing
This is one of my very favorite Bohjalian books!!
Sep 22, 2018 rated it it was ok
Shelves: fiction
90s Earth Mother feminism hasn't aged well, and unfortunately neither has this book. Patience reads like a parody of what the author thinks a feminist sounds like, and her brand of feminism is laden with cissexism and gender essentialism, making her difficult to sympathize with or relate to.

The story wants to be grounded in real-life environmental issues, and that aspect of the story is one I find undeniably compelling, but that's dampened by the need to take dowsing seriously as the book's pre
Jul 19, 2018 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Jul 09, 2018 rated it liked it
Although it dragged for me in parts I enjoyed listening to both sides. Progress in the town and leaving the environment as it is. I could definitely see both sides and understood their compassion. I also was interested in learning about dowsers. That was something I did not know about. Thanks for another interesting book!
May 02, 2018 rated it it was amazing
I loved this book. No, it's not really about witches. It's about a family & community of water dowsers. I loved this aspect of the book as my father was pretty well known for his dowsing abilities when I was growing up. The book also dealt with environmental issues. Knowing when to draw the line on certain things to protect the environment. I also loved the characters in the book.
Amy Davis
Mar 01, 2018 rated it really liked it
I enjoyed this book. It’s the second I’ve read by this author and I have a few more on my shelf. The only reason I did not give it 5 stars is because the Vermont references were distracting at times. For what it’s worth, descriptions of places were largely accurate (native Vermonter here), but I wondered if those who do not live in Vermont could follow along.
Rita	 Marie
May 20, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: read-fiction
Not as complex as some of Bohjalian's later books, but it has its own magic. And the controversy between environment and jobs is always with us. The Vermont setting and a few mentions of my alma mater are fun too.
Linda Mulford
May 22, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: fiction
Another excellent book by Chris Bohjalian. Interesting character development. Wonderful story with great emotion. Story is set in Vermont about the battle over a Ski Resort expansion and Environmental Concerns.
Aug 15, 2017 rated it liked it
I enjoyed this book! It was a very different story from others I've read from the same author. Even the writing style was different. It was interesting to me that the protagonist was not a water witch.
Dec 13, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Wonderful story. Don’t know why it took me so long to read books by this home state author. @ChrisBohjalian has not failed to treat this reader with his fantastic novels.
May 16, 2018 rated it really liked it
I always enjoy Bohjalian books. I was fascinated by the dowsing discussions.
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Chris is the #1 New York Times bestselling author of 20 books. Chris's work has been translated into over 30 languages and three times become movies ("Midwives," "Secrets of Eden," and "Past the Bleachers.")

"The Flight Attendant" paperback lands January 8, 2019, wherever books are sold. It debuted as a hardcover in March 2019 as a
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