Thursday, May 9, 2013

HF Virtual Book Tours: Cascade by Maryanne O'Hara

Title: Cascade
Author: Maryanne O'Hara
Format: Paperback
Publisher: Viking
Publish Date: August 16, 2012
Source: HF Virtual Book Tours

Umm, how gorgeous is this cover???
Why You're Reading This Book:
  • You're a historical fiction fan.
  • You are up for a tragic read.
What's the Story?:

From "During the 1930s in a small town fighting for its survival, a newly married artist faces an impossible choice between her passion and her promises

Fans of Richard Russo, Amor Towles, Sebastian Barry, and Paula McLain will become engrossed in this transporting novel about the eternal tug between our duties and our desires, set during in New York City and New England during the Depression and New Deal eras.

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?"

My Two Cents:

"Cascade" is a historical fiction book that takes place in Cascade, Massachusetts, a town that might be razed in order to make way for a reservoir to serve the city of Boston. The people of the town are looking at a future where the town they know will be no more and they will have to move on. Dez, the main character in the book, wants out of the life she currently has. She wants to save her father's Shakespearean playhouse and she wants out of her marriage and maybe even out of Cascade. She is married but only because it was convenient for her to be married after her beloved father died. 

Dez is one of those characters that while I didn't exactly like her because of some of the choices that she made, I could understand where she was coming from. In the 1930s, women still didn't seem to have a lot of choices when it came to making their own way. Dez is an incredibly talented artist who dreamt of trying to make it in New York City someday but marries Asa instead, which relegates her to the small town she grew up in. It's a life that Dez really never wanted but she was never willing to take those steps out on her own because it's not what proper young women do. However, a couple years into her marriage, she realizes that maybe she should have taken a risk and begins doing things, such as striking up a relationship with Jacob, a Jewish man (frowned upon by the denizens of Cascade) who understands the artistic ambitions of Dez. He's also not totally forthcoming with who he is, an irony on which some of the main story line is hinged.

Although this story isn't based on any specific Shakespeare play, a lot of the tragic elements that made Shakespeare's tragedies so well regarded are present in this book. This isn't a particularly happy book. The irony of Dez's actions and the way things turned out for her was very Shakespearean to me.

The historical detail in this book is wonderful. I'm always astounded about how entire towns could be destroyed in order to make way for something new. This happened several times over the history of our country and it's sort of crazy to think about. I really enjoyed reading about how O'Hara was inspired to write this book in the author's note and the reader's guide.

Come back tomorrow for a guest post by Maryanne O'Hara and a giveaway of Cascade!

Follow the Rest of the 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
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
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  1. I read CASCADE in hard cover. My thoughts on it differ from yours.

    This is a gorgeously written novel about a young artist in the 1930s who and would be perfect for the reader who likes well-written romances that are far and away better than most books called romances. CASCADE has a story that does not depend on descriptions of sexual gymnastics.

    Still, I wanted again and again to skip through paragraphs and pages. That is because O'Hara makes the common mistake of what I call "too much rumination." That is, the main character, Dez (Desdemona Hart), thinks, at length, too much.

    Also, where you think Dez's behavior is understandable, I think Dez is detestable. She marries a good-looking successful pharmacist, Asa, just so she and her father have a home. At her every mean and selfish act, Asa forgives, even goes out of his way to be kind. How could she not love someone like that? Instead, she chases after another man, one she continues to love for years and years.

    1. I see where you're coming from on Dez's behavior! I guess I should clarify my thoughts a little. I don't condone what she does in the book (I did really feel for Asa) but I understand why she did it and why she thought it was okay even if I personally didn't really think it was okay.

  2. Meg, thanks so much for a great review.

    Interesting comment from Russell Smith, writing in the Globe and Mail:

    The question of whether readers should like or “find sympathetic” the heroes and heroines of books is one that is taking forever to die, and it plagues every writer who attempts anything more morally complex than a parable.

  3. I read the book a little while ago but I remember not exactly loving or hating Dez. I felt she made some bad choices, but so do must people. Like you Meg, I didn't feel too much for Asa.


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