Friday, June 7, 2013

Cascade by Maryanne O'Hara

Reviewed by Laura Kay

Desdemona "Dez" Hart Spaulding wanted nothing more than to go to New York as an artist, but life got in the way. Her father became ill, bankrupt and so she did what she could to help him by marring the town pharmacist, Asa. By marring Asa she had been able to save her father's Shakespeare Theater in the town of Cascade, Massachusetts. Soon after her marriage her father died leaving his theater to Asa and Dez was left in a marriage, in a life she never wanted. 

Dez spends much of her time in the little art studio in her home, when she meets Jacob Solomon another artist. Soon Dez falls for Jacob and dreams of a life with him in New York, but she feels trapped by her word. It's the 1930's and divorce in a small town is a very dirty word. The town of Cascade finds out it is being considered to be destroyed in order to make a reservoir. Dez puts her artwork to use by depicting life in the town in hopes of swaying the government to pick another town to destroy. Saving the town, falling in love with Jacob, her desire to create art, and her loveless marriage builds up and begins to unravel in ways the reader doesn't expect. 

Cascade is one of the most beautifully written stories I've read. Within the first few pages I was drawn into Dez's story. Sometimes I liked Dez and sometimes I couldn't get over her foolishness. I really felt for Dez and you can empathize with her situation with her struggle to do what is right and yet what she desires. I was completely engrossed in this novel not wanting to put it down. 

This is a complex read with well crafted characters and plot.  I highly recommend Cascade if you are looking for a book with a powerful tension filled story. Do not miss this book! 

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Praise for CASCADE

"The protagonist is Desdemona Hart, a woman drowning in the choices she's been forced to make: a marriage of necessity to save her father's legacy and put a roof over his head as he dies......trouble escalates, and so will the rate at which you turn the pages. Cascade is perfect for sitting by the fire on a chilly day contemplating the immutability of things." --Slate: 2012 Best Books, Staff Picks

"When state engineers created the Quabbin Reservoir in the 1930s, four Central Massachusetts towns disappeared beneath the waters. In her debut novel, Cascade, Ashland resident Maryanne O'Hara chronicles the fate of one such (fictionalized) town and its inhabitants, notably Desdemona Hart Spaulding, an ambitious artist trapped in a loveless marriage. O'Hara, a former Ploughshares fiction editor, shapes her protagonist's story to pose questions like: If art is not lastingly valuable, what is? Ponder that over your next glass of tap water." --Boston Globe, Best of the New, 2012

"Gorgeously written and involving, Cascade explores the age-old conflict between a woman’s perceived duty and her deepest desires, but in O’Hara’s skilled hands the struggle feels fresh and new." --People Magazine


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