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Cascade: A Novel by Maryanne O'Hara
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Cascade: A Novel (edition 2012)

by Maryanne O'Hara

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1481880,863 (4)6
Member:WisteriaLeigh
Title:Cascade: A Novel
Authors:Maryanne O'Hara
Info:Viking Adult (2012), Hardcover, 368 pages
Collections:Your library, ARC
Rating:****1/2
Tags:historical fiction, HNR, ARC, Massachusetts, 1935, Theater, relationships, flooding towns, prejudice, social issues

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Cascade by Maryanne O'Hara

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» See also 6 mentions

Showing 1-5 of 18 (next | show all)
This is a look club selection. Not what I would normally read. However, I liked it better than I expected. It seemed a bit melodramatic and predictable at first but had a real life feel about how choices and fate can affect us all. ( )
  becka11y2 | Jan 19, 2016 |
Maryanne O'Hara's debut novel, Cascade, is a beautifully written tale of sacrifice, desire and trying to find one's place in the world. Set in small town Cascade, Massachusetts during the Great Depression, Cascade is the story of Dez Spaulding, a newlywed who realizes too late that the life she has begun to carve out for herself, one chosen primarily to secure the well-being of her bankrupt father, is not the life she wants. A former student of art with big dreams, Dez finds little satisfaction in her role as homemaker. But it is not until the unexpected death of her father and the arrival of fellow artist Jacob Solomon in Cascade that Dez begins to question her chosen path. When Cascade is identified as the frontrunner to be flooded to create a reservoir for Boston, Dez comes to view the possible destruction of the town as an opportunity to create a new life for herself. While the town fights to stay alive, Dez is caught between her desire to follow her dreams and fulfilling her husband and society's expectations of her.

One of the greatest strengths of Cascade is O'Hara's ability to bring small-town, Depression-era America to life. While Dez's situation is secure due to her husband's profession as a pharmacist, many of Cascade's citizens are struggling to make ends meet and the hard-times have left the town a shadow of its former self. I thought the characters to be well-drawn, particularly Dez, whose internal conflict is clearly evident. While I didn't always agree with the choices Dez made, especially those that hurt other people, and I was often frustrated by her, she is a sympathetic character. In the 1930s, the opportunities afforded to women for a career and independence were few, and for this reason I can't really fault Dez for marrying Asa even though she wasn't in love with him. Another aspect of this novel that I appreciated was the incorporation of historical detail that conveys to the reader the events taking place in Europe, events that would lead to the start World War II.

While I liked this novel immensely, Cascade is not a book I would describe as an enjoyable read. In fact, the strongest emotion this novel evoked from me was sadness - sadness for Cascade and its citizens, sadness for Dez and her husband, and sadness for Jacob.

Recommended to all fans of historical fiction.

Note: I received a copy of this novel from the publisher in exchange for a fair and honest review. ( )
  Melissa_J | Jan 15, 2016 |
ascade by Maryanne O'Hara was inspired by a real event in Quabbin, Massachusetts. The time was in Great the Depression and Boston was clamoring for more water. The state legislature had to make the determination of which places to submerge with water so a reservoir could be created. You can read more about the real town on the author's website.

Desdemona Hart Spaulding had married so that her beloved father, William and the rest of her family could survive the Depression. Yet she was always yearning to be well known artist and be independent. When her father died in their house, he left the town's playhouse to her husband. Previously, the playhouse had been very popular with its presentations of Shakespeare's plays. But now the playhouse might be submerged with the rest of the town if Cascade didn't win over Whistling Falls for survival.

This is a tale based on history of love, fate, and whether anything is really permanent.

I loved this book. I didn't always agree with Des's decision but I could not stop reading and also wondering about the stories of the people who lost Quabbin.

I highly recommend this historical fiction to all my friends and am very eager to read more from Maryanne O'Hara in the future. ( )
  Carolee888 | Jun 28, 2013 |
Rarely is there a book that I say it is hard for me to put down but that is the case with Cascade. Well written, interesting characters, multiple intriguing plot lines and a very satisfying ending. What is not to like? The book's principle two themes are whether or not the town of Cascade can be saved from destruction by flooding caused by a new reservoir and secondly a young lady artist whose ambitions are being thwarted by living in this small town. This book could easily be adapted into a very good movie with lots on nice acting roles. I have nothing bad to say about this book. Read it. ( )
  muddyboy | Jun 19, 2013 |
Sometimes books speak to us -- uniquely, exclusively. The elements of a particular story combine to seem formed just for you . . . and so it was with Maryanne O'Hara's Cascade. I should preface my review by acknowledging my deep, overwhelming fear of water. Of drowning. Of being pulled under. The idea of an entire town being purposely dismantled and flooded to form a reservoir -- of a place that once existed but has since been razed, morphed into a lake -- is both fascinating and horrifying.

Reading Cascade was such a lush, complicated experience. Of the many elements happening in one 350-page book, the connection brewing between Dez and Jacob captivated me completely. My heart literally ached reading about their friendship, however brief, and the story's progression found me desperately hoping for something I knew could never be. Without giving anything way, I felt splintered by the novel's close. Just splintered. Gut-punched.

And that's the mark of a great story.

And this was a wholly unique tale. One with which I sympathized, and empathized, and became completely swept inside. Between its mirroring of Shakespearean classics and historical tidbits of life just before Pearl Harbor, O'Hara does a masterful job of portraying a town facing imminent destruction just as millions face a gruesome end in Europe. The distrust of the Jewish population -- and of Jacob -- was devastating, and made me thankful for the intervening years since World War II.

Just as interesting was the art scene -- a vivid world portrayed through Dez's work and connections. New York seemed a wholly familiar and unfamiliar place through O'Hara's pen: a world I know but do not know. I loved the descriptions of Dez's paintings and plans, and the light-filled studio rooms in which she would recreate safe spaces. It was romantic and lovely. And the overarching theme -- "nothing gold can stay," if you will, or nothing and no one lasts forever -- made me sad and reflective but ultimately . . . hopeful? Yes. Hopeful.

There's so much I want to talk about, but so much I cannot talk about. This is a story you need to experience and devour yourself. Though it took me 80 pages or so to become fully invested in Cascade's future, I feel changed as a reader for having read this book. It was magnificent. There aren't too many novels I'd herald as "a triumph," the hyperbole of that making me squint, but seriously: Cascade is phenomenal. It touched me. It made me cry. It broke my heart. It raised so many questions.

I absolutely loved it, and it's time to discover it for yourself. ( )
  writemeg | May 13, 2013 |
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During his final days, William Hart was haunted by drowning dreams.
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Book description
1935: Desdemona Hart Spaulding was an up-and-coming Boston artist when she married in haste and settled in the small, once-fashionable theater town of Cascade to provide a home for her dying father. Now Cascade is on the short list to be flooded to provide water for Boston, and Dez's discontent is complicated by her growing attraction to a fellow artist. When tragic events unfold, Dez is forced to make difficult choices. Must she keep her promises? Is it morally possible to set herself free?
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0670026026, Hardcover)

During the 1930s, in a town fighting for its survival, a conflicted new wife with artistic promise must choose between duty and desire
Fans of Richard Russo, Amor Towles, Sebastian Barry, and Paula McLain will devour this transporting novel about the eternal tug between our duties and our desires, set within the context of the Depression, NYC during Roosevelt's New Deal era, and the approaching World War.

1935:  Desdemona Hart Spaulding was an up-and-coming Boston artist when she married in haste and settled in the small, once-fashionable theater town of Cascade to provide a home for her dying father. Now Cascade is on the short list to be flooded to provide water for Boston, and Dez's discontent is complicated by her growing attraction to a fellow artist. When tragic events unfold, Dez is forced to make difficult choices. Must she keep her promises? Is it morally possible to set herself free?

"What do we have to give up to be whom we yearn to be?  CASCADE unfolds like a Shakespearean tragedy, with an ending you won't see coming. Much like a drowned town, the novel becomes something that you can't take your eyes from or stop thinking about in wonder.The Boston Globe

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:16:22 -0400)

(see all 2 descriptions)

Struggling to preserve her family's theater and married to a man desperate for children, would-be artist Desdemona Hart of 1935 Massachusetts is drawn to creative newcomer Jacob Solomon, who is wrongly implicated by anti-Semitic townspeople after a murder.… (more)

(summary from another edition)

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