Author: Maryanne O'Hara
Published: Penguin Books; April 2013
Genre: Historical fiction
Source: Historical Fiction Virtual Book Tours
Synopsis: 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?
Fans of Richard Russo, Amor Towles, Sebastian Barry, and Paula McLain will savor this transporting novel about the eternal tug between our duties and our desires, set in New York City and New England during the uncertain, tumultuous 1930s.
My Take: This was another case of me wanting to read a book solely based on it's cover. I'm sorry but I spent about half the time I was reading Cascade by Maryanne O'Hara just mesmerized by that cover! It is so beautiful. But you've probably swung by to see what I actually thought of the book, so let's get right down to it!
Cascade by Maryanne O'Hara is set in depression era Cascade, MA. But really, it could have been set in any town in any time period because the issues at play were issues people have always dealt with.
Desdemona is our leading lady and she is in a bit of a pickle. When the story opens, her father is on his death bed and she has rushed home to be with him and take care of him. A young artist, she saw herself pursuing her dream in New York, but instead finds herself stuck with a dying man who has made them both destitute. Not wanting to move her dad into a hotel and seeing no other way out, she marries Asa Spaulding, a man who has had a crush on her his whole life and who owns the local pharmacy, so even in a depression can take care of a family.
Once married, reality hits that perhaps there is more to life than a gut decision that leads to a lifetime of boredom. Des and Asa could not be more different and watching them try to make a 'happy marriage' out of the life they fell into is very heartbreaking to read about.
One day a travelling salesman who is also an artist, Jacob Solomon, drops by Des's house and a friendship starts up. Initially it was just a friendship but soon it starts to reveal deeper emotions and Des and Jacob must both come to terms as to what this might mean for their lives.
A couple of other major things to take into account while reading Cascade: a law is under consideration in nearby Boston to make a reservoir to supply the large city with water and one of the locations they are considering flooding to do so is Cascade. If this goes through, will this mean a fresh start for Des or will they choose a different location and Des will have to decide her own destiny herself? Another thing to consider is Des's dying father's last wish: that she see his once glorious Shakespeare Theatre come back to life. Can Des fulfill this last wish?
So, yes, while it does seem that there is a lot going on, and certainly a lot at stake, O'Hara has actually written a rather slow moving and very thoughtful story. It's not a novel to rush through, it's more of a novel to savor. And for those who aren't big fans of historical fiction, you will probably still really enjoy Cascade as it deals with emotions more than time periods. For a book that will make you continue to think about it long after you've read the last page, you can't go wrong with Cascade by Maryanne O'Hara.
Cover Lust: Well as I've said before, this cover is so beautiful I want to frame it as a piece of art on my walls!
For more opinions about this novel, be sure to check out the full Historical Fiction Virtual Book Tour!