Cover image for Water witches
Water witches
Bohjalian, Christopher A. (Christopher Aram), 1960-
First Scribner paperback fiction edition.
Publication Information:
New York : Simon & Schuster, 1997.

Physical Description:
340 pages ; 21 cm
Reading Level:
950 Lexile.
Program Information:
Accelerated Reader AR UG 6.2 16.0 56572.

Reading Counts RC High School 7.1 23 Quiz: 27654 Guided reading level: NR.
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
FICTION Adult Fiction Central Library

On Order



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, 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.

Author Notes

Chris Bohjalian (born on August 12, 1962 in White Plains, New York) graduated from Amherst College and worked as an account representative for J. Walter Thompson advertising agency in New York in the mid-1980s. Bohjalian is an American novelist and the author of 15 novels, including the bestsellers Midwives and The Sandcastle Girls. His first novel, A Killing in the Real World, was released in 1988. His other novels include Water Witches, The Law of Similars, Before You Know Kindness, Skeletons at the Feast, and The Night Strangers. Past the Bleachers and Midwives were made into Hallmark Hall of Fame movies and Secrets of Eden was made into a Lifetime Television movie. He won the New England Book Award in 2002. He also contributes to numerous publications including Cosmopolitan, Reader's Digest, Boston Globe Sunday Magazine and the Burlington Free Press. Bohjalian's The Guest Room is a New York Times bestseller.

(Bowker Author Biography)

Reviews 3

Booklist Review

Water Witches captures much of what this new line of Hardscrabble Books aims for, with detailed descriptions of New England settings, in this case Vermont; with references to the area's history, namely witches; and with incorporation of the opposing environmental and capitalist agendas that currently plague many state legislatures. Uniting the dowsing properties (the ability to locate water with a divining rod) of the female Averys with the pragmatic, entrepreneurial main character, Scottie, leads to a surprisingly compatible union. Bohjalian manages, usually, to retain a proper distance from his characters so that they become believable, realistic, and human without submitting to the author's political correctness. Although Part Three, a kind of epilogue to the story, seems a bit too much, the majority of the novel is engaging. This book may appeal more to those with an already active environmental consciousness or to those seeking to reconnect with the natural world; and yet it has much to teach those who have been overly active in the progress-at-any-cost way of living. --Janet St. John

Publisher's Weekly Review

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.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Library Journal Review

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 (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.