Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Cascade by Maryanne O'Hara

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆
Read: April 30, 2013

It’s 1935, and Desdemona Hart Spaulding has sacrificed her plans to work as an artist in New York to care for her bankrupt, ailing father in Cascade, Massachusetts. When he dies, Dez finds herself caught in a marriage of convenience, bound to the promise she made to save her father’s Shakespeare Theater, even as her town may be flooded to create a reservoir for Boston. When she falls for artist Jacob Solomon, she sees a chance to escape and realize her New York ambitions, but is it morally possible to set herself free?

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Quabbin Reservoir, inspiration for Cascade. 
Depression era lit is not my usual stomping ground, but the minute I read the description of Maryanne O'Hara's Cascade, I knew I'd have to read the book. I'd been raised on stories like this, anecdotes of my grandfather's ranch being flooded to promote economic growth in the Missouri River Valley, whole communities just slipping beneath the waves as if they'd never existed. I found the idea that such an instance had inspired O'Hara to write a book absolutely fascinating and couldn't wait to see how it played into Desdemona's story.  

At it's heart, this is a story of self-discovery, again, not my usual thing, but I loved how it played out against the creation of Rappahannock. There is a beautiful symmetry between Desdemona's personal tribulations and the fate of her beloved town, her deep seated ambition to leave a mark on the world against acceptance that change is unavoidable and permanence is an illusion of the mind. 

Historically I have to give O'Hara points for highlighting both the plight of women in the 1930s and the Federal Arts Project. Early in the book, O'Hara makes it clear that Dez wants something bigger than the life of a pharmacist's wife with a house full of children. She wants a career, to embrace her work and to be involved in the dramatic shift taking place in the art world as new ideas become reality under the New Deal Work Progress Administration. As stated, Depression era lit is not my cuppa tea, but O'Hara managed to put together something very special simply by choosing to express Dez's emotional journey through the context of her artwork. 

Stirringly poignant, Cascade is an elegant story of one woman's struggle to find herself amid divided loyalties and passionate desire. 

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“Life is full of tough choices between less-than-perfect alternatives.”
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Check out all the stops on Maryanne O'Hara's HISTORICAL FICTION VIRTUAL BOOK TOUR 


Monday, April 29
Review & Giveaway at Peeking Between the Pages
Tuesday, April 30
Feature & Giveaway at Passages to the Past
Wednesday, May 1
Review & Giveaway at Sharon’s Garden of Book Reviews
Thursday, May 2
Review & Giveaway at Flashlight Commentary
Friday, May 3
Review at Tiny Library
Monday, May 6
Review at Psychotic State Book Reviews
Tuesday, May 7
Interview & Giveaway at Psychotic State Book Reviews
Wednesday, May 8
Review & Giveaway at Confessions of an Avid Reader
Thursday, May 9
Review at A Bookish Affair
Review & Giveaway at The Relentless Reader
Friday, May 10
Guest Post & Giveaway at A Bookish Affair
Monday, May 13
Review at Write Meg
Tuesday, May 14
Review at Kinx’s Book Nook
Review & Giveaway at Bippity Boppity Book
Wednesday, May 15
Review at Raging Bibliomania
Thursday, May 16
Review & Giveaway at Ageless Pages Reviews
Friday, May 17
Review & Giveaway at The Blue Stocking Society
Monday, May 20
Review at Amused By Books
Review at Oh, For the Hook of a Book!
Tuesday, May 21
Interview & Giveaway at Oh, For the Hook of a Book!
Wednesday, May 22
Review & Giveaway at The Worm Hole
Thursday, May 23
Review at A Book Geek
Friday, May 24
Review & Giveaway at The Picky Girl
Monday, May 27
Review & Giveaway at The Novel Life
Tuesday, May 28
Review & Giveaway at Always with a Book
Review, Guest Post & Giveaway at The Lit Bitch
Wednesday, May 29
Review at Turning the Pages
Thursday, May 30
Guest Post at The Novel Life
Friday, May 31
Interview & Giveaway at Cheryl’s Book Nook
Monday, June 3
Review at Words and Peace
Tuesday, June 4
Review at Historical Tapestry & Adventures of an Intrepid Reader
Giveaway at Words and Peace
Wednesday, June 5
Review & Giveaway at A Chick Who Reads
Thursday, June 6
Review at The Little Reader Library
Friday, June 7
Review at A Novel Review

3 comments:

Maryanne OHara said...

What a beautifully written review! Yet another blogger I wish had been around when we were writing jacket copy. Thanks for taking the time to read and review my book.

Maryanne

The Flashlight Reader said...

Thank you! :)

Gina D said...

I have read a few books set during the depression era and enjoy them. It helps me to understand better things that my grandparents lived through.

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