Wednesday, August 05, 2009

Sweetwater Run by Jan Watson (review)

Sweetwater Run by Jan Watson
Copyright 2009
Tyndale - Fiction/Historical
292 pages

"He'll have his hands full with those two." Cara pictured four-year-old Wilton, a little ball of fire, and two-and-a-half-year-old Merky, the prettiest baby girl she'd ever seen.

"He needs to have his hands full," Dance said, stepping out onto the porch with a wooden spoon dripping brown bean soup. "You know what that man had the nerve to say to me this very morning?"

"I couldn't venture a guess," Cara answered.

"I was nursing this'n--" she pointed the spoon at Pauline--"and chasing that'n--" the spoon leveled at Cleve-- "when Ace says to me, 'Dance, ye need to turn off your baby maker."

Cara laughed so hard her feet lost purchase on little Cleve and he rolled over on his belly.

"It ain't one bit funny," Dance said. "Ye wouldn't be laughing if it was you."

Cara choked to a stop. "I'm sorry. What did you tell him?"

"Didn't tell him nothing--just bounced the skillet off his thick head."


"Oh, it was just the little two-egg skillet." Dance held the spoon down for Cleve to mouth. "Didn't hurt him none."

Okay, so tell me. Are you smiling? This author honestly had me in stitches. Sweetwater Run is the fourth book in a series, but it stands alone so well that when a friend told me I was reading a series book, I was actually a little stunned. It took no time at all to get into the book and get to know the characters.

Sweetwater Run tells the story of Cara Whitt. Her husband's mule, Pancake, was stolen and Dimmert loved the mule so he stole his mule back. As the story opens, Dimm, the sheriff, and the man who stole Dimm's mule and the thief's father are all discussing the mule in front of the Whitts' home. When Dimm refuses to capitulate and is arrested for stealing his own mule, Cara has to learn to live by herself and face her fears. The first thing that made me love this author was the realization that she'd named a character who stole his own mule Dimm Whitt. How fun is that? Then, of course, I fell in love with all of the characters.

There's a lot more to Sweetwater Run than just Cara's challenges. The Whitt family includes her sister-in-law Dance, Dance's husband Ace and their large brood of little ones, another sister-in-law named Darcy and the elderly grandmother Fairy Mae. While Cara's learning to live on her own, she often goes to help Dance on laundry day. Dance is a bit of a mental case. Darcy is falling in love with the town lawyer, who has an ulterior motive for wanting to marry Darcy. And, Fairy Mae is quickly going downhill, leaving Darcy the choice of running off with her beau and leaving her beloved grandmother in someone else's care or staying and possibly missing out on marriage to a man who makes her heart race. And, then a second tragedy strikes.

So much happens in Sweetwater Run and the characters are all so engaging, funny and easy to love that I would have been happy if the book had been 1000 pages long. That's saying something. I'm not a big fan of chunksters.

5/5 - One of the best books I've read in 2009. Exceptional characterization, perfect dialogue, lots of action, love, disaster, and plenty of deeper meaning in all the events that occur. I just loved this book. I've added the first three books in the series to my wish list and I'm happy to say that Sweetwater Run is G-rated, very family-friendly. Don't know if the kids would like it, but you can leave it lying out without worry.
Side notes: This is another book put out by a Christian publisher and the characters are mostly Christian, but like many of the newer Christian titles there's never a sense that Christianity is being hammered into your head. It's just a part of the characterization. Some of the characters go to church, some don't. In times of trouble, the Bible gives Cara strength, but that isn't the case, at first. There's one surprising character who helps Cara conquer her fears and gather courage by reading the Bible.
It's Wednesday, what have you got to wahoo about? I'm wahooing about the lack of rain. I love rain, but not two weeks of heavy storms in a row. A little now and then is enough to restore my sagging spirits. So, wahoo for sunshine! And, because I'm thinking of water, here's a picture taken of water in a small waterfall at the Memphis Zoo. I have kind of a thing for trying to photograph water droplets.

Many wahoos to you!


  1. I love the cover of this book. The pretty vintage aprons hanging over the water. Perfect. I think I'll add it to my wishlist.

    Wahoo for sunny shine!

  2. WAHOO! I love the names of the characters.

  3. This is the second great review I have read today about this book. This is a new on for my wishlist. Thanks for the review.

  4. Wow! One of the best books of 2009 and a book from a series that stands that well alone are high praise indeed. I need to look for this one.

  5. Wow! High praise indeed!
    Do you think I should start with the first in the series?

    (Life by Candlelight)

  6. This book sounds like fun. I think I'll check out the entire series!

  7. Nikki,

    I didn't think to mention the cover. I like it, too. One of the characters is a seamstress, so the ribbons and stitches also fit. BTW, I think you'll enjoy this book.

    We had another storm, this morning, but the sun came back out. Wahoo!


    Me, too! Jan Watson's an excellently wahooey namer. :)


    I'll have to look around for other reviews. I love reading other opinions about a book I've read. Thanks, I'm glad you enjoyed the review!

  8. Kathy,

    I think you'd enjoy this book. It's refreshing - a clean story with great characters, believable historical setting. I just loved it. :)


    I'm going to go back to the beginning of the series, as soon as I get my mitts on the earlier books. It's probably best to read them in order, if you can, but obviously not necessary. There's probably been a great deal of character development that I don't know about.


    I'm sure you'll love them. I can't wait to get my hands on the rest of the books in the series.

  9. I loved this one too. I want to go back and read the others.

    I'm wahooing because we're having thunderstorms today, which means it's cooled off. I actually have my doors and windows open and I'm loving the wind!!

  10. It sounds like a good read, Dimm Whitt? lol.

    We actually might GET rain today! If it weren't also the fear of lightening strikes, I'd wahoo.

  11. Holly,

    Wasn't it wonderful? I'll have to bop over and read your review. I'm terrified of my google reader. With school starting up, this has been a busy week.

    Oh, lucky girl. Thunderstorms cool us off, but it's not a comfortable cooling. It just gets muggy. We very rarely can open the doors and windows with any positive effect. That's one thing I truly hate about where I live.


    Yeah, Dimm Whitt. You have to love the author for that, don't you?

    Wow, the thunderstorms have just been popping up everywhere! That's pretty rare for you. We had close lightning again, this morning. It's so unnerving. I had to get up to unplug everything, as usual. I tried to rouse the husband and he just said, "Mwhfngrh." Translation: I have a half hour till I have to get up and I plan to not move till then. Also, I'm not coherent.

  12. Oooh, another one to add to my TBR list! For some reason, this sounds a little bit like These Is My Words by Nancy Turner. Definitely something I'd be interested in reading.

    So while you dry out, we can torrential downpours with incredible lightning and thunder. It was so bad on Sunday morning, we had a power surge which messed up the shared drive on our network. Fortunately, we backup all the photos, music and docs on that drive on a fairly regular basis. Unfortunately, the last batch of Oregon pix (and some from a recent Kansas City outing) were not backed up. :( Keep your fingers crossed that Rod can perform miracles on the drive tonight when he brings home a cable from work that will allow him to connect something directly to the computer. Don't ask me. I just nod my head and try not to cry about all those lost pix!! Oh, and we haven't tried to see if our backup drive will restore everything correctly. Time for some wine?!?!

  13. Oh, and how very exciting about the house-hunting! Have fun. Better you than me, says she who hopes to never move ever, ever again.

  14. Les,

    I've never read These Is My Words, so I can't compare, but I think you'd like Sweetwater Run. It's such a great story.

    We're actually under a storm cloud, right now, but it's just a little isolated thing that should pass soon, I hope. Horrors about your power surge. We usually unplug everything electronic when it storms because we have a LOT of power outages and surges. Better safe than sorry. Sometimes I take the risk, though. I hope you can get everything back. There are ways; I just have no idea what they are! LOL

    We've been in the same stupid house for 18 years and I never even liked it all that much. At the very least, I'm having fun thinking about the idea of moving. The only thing I would miss is the bathrooms, seriously. I love our bathrooms!

  15. This sounds like a charming book. I love the passage you quoted. This sounds right up my alley.

    Diary of an Eccentric

  16. Anna,

    It is definitely charming, but it's also gritty and realistic to the time period. It made me feel like such a lazy bum! I think you'd love Sweetwater Run. I hope you do read it. :)


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