Monday, December 17, 2012

Blog Tour Review: Cascade by Maryanne O'Hara

From the Back Cover:

Cascade, Massachusetts, 1935. Desdemona Hart Spaulding, a talented young artist who studied in Paris, has sacrificed her dreams of working in New York City to put a roof over her newly bankrupt and ailing father's head. Two months later, he has died and Dez is bound by the promises she has made to her father, her husband, and her town. Dez is stifled by her marriage to kind but conservative Asa, who is impatient to start a family, and her ambitions are fading. She also stands to lose her father's legacy, the Cascade Shakespeare Theatre, as Massachusetts decides whether to flood Cascade to create a new reservoir for Boston.

Amid this turmoil arrives Jacob Solomon, a fellow artist and kindred spirit for whom Dez feels an immediate and strong attraction. As their relationship reaches a pivotal moment, a man is found dead and the town points its collective finger at Jacob, a Jewish outsider. When unexpected acclaim and a chance to recapture her lost dreams of life in New York City arise, Dez must make an impossible choice.

As the threads of this enthralling novel intertwine, they weave a portrait of an unforgettable young woman who finds herself caught in the age-old struggle between duty and desire.

My Thoughts:

Cascade is one of those novels that makes you think and leaves you a bit haunted by it after you've finished. Maryanne O'Hara has excelled at depicting a small town in the midst of depression and on the eve of destruction. And she has also excelled at crafting a complex heroine who, although not always likeable, is always real. When we first meet Dez she has just married her childhood friend to give her father peace of mind in the last days of his life. Although she cares for Asa, her feelings for him do not run as deep as his feelings for her, and she begins to feel stifled by the small-town life of a pharmacist's wife she has bound herself to. And the reader can empathize with her. Dez is a cosmopolitan woman, a woman who grew up with money and who had the opportunity of a higher education in Boston and Paris. A woman who always believed her talent would lead her to great things--among them an independent lifestyle where she could follow her whims and desires and experience all that life had to offer. But thanks to her father's profligate spending, a once considerable family fortune is gone, and the only way Dez can save his beloved theater is by taking a path far different than what she'd always envisioned.

Only now it may all be for naught, as the state of Massachusetts desperately needs new water sources, and the Cascade River valley seems to be the perfect spot for a new reservoir. Asa is ready to fight, and though the town is already downtrodden and suffering the effects of the Great Depression, they're ready to rally behind him, desperate to hold on to the one thing they've always known. But Dez views the new reservoir in an entirely different light. If the town is flooded, they'll have to move, and perhaps she can still grasp for the life she was meant to have. While appearing to help the town, and in the process gaining a bit of notoriety for herself in the art world, Dez makes a series of selfish decisions that will end up undermining the town's efforts and her marriage.

The one bright spot in her life, the one thing that gives her hope, is Jacob Solomon, a fellow artist who has returned to the area after the death of his father to pick up his business. As he and Dez strike up a friendship, Dez grows more and more dissatisfied with her life, creating a fantasy in her mind of what life could be like if only she hadn't married Asa and settled for a small-town life. She sees in Jacob a kindred spirit, and a representation of all that she was forced to give up. But her relationship with Jacob has not gone unnoticed, and an afternoon interlude sets into motion a chain of events that will leave the whole town reeling . . . and ready to lash out at any perceived threat, in the process unraveling Dez's carefully constructed fantasy and sending her life into a tailspin, and leading her to ultimately discover the ugly truths about her relationships with both Jacob and Asa, and truths she's put off facing for too long about herself and her father.

I really liked this novel, though there were times when I grew rather disgusted with Dez. But just at the point where I believed Dez was beyond redeeming, the plot really started to thicken, and I realized all of the selfish decisions Dez had made were coming full-circle and creating a real page-turner as the fate of the town and Dez's marriage was decided. Dez does not get off the hook so easily, and once again I found myself in a position to feel sorry for her, even in the wake of the devastation she caused. Maryanne O'Hara's writing has a lyrical quality to it, and the amazing ability to pull a myriad of emotions from the reader. The small, rundown town of Cascade really comes to life as it struggles to hold on to its former glory, as the townspeople come to grips with the new world order, and as the conflict in Europe looms over them all. And Dez's inner conflict between doing what she wants and doing what is right is a palpable thing, brilliantly crafted and depicted with such shades of gray that the reader can't help but be pulled under by the force of it, helpless to do anything but follow where it goes. Though I had my moments of doubt, Cascade did not disappoint in the end, becoming a very satisfying read, and one I'd recommend to anyone in the mood for some good character-driven historical drama.

My Rating:  4 Stars out of 5

Wanna win your own copy of Cascade?
Simply leave a comment with your email address and you're entered! My followers double their chances to win, so be sure to let me know if you follow via GFC, Facebook, or Twitter!

This giveaway is open to residents of the U.S. and Canada and ends at 11:59pm, Friday, December 28, 2012. Winner will be selected at random. Thanks, and good luck!

This giveaway is closed and the winner has been selected.
Stay tuned for more great giveaways!

Cascade is on a blog tour!
Click here to view the tour schedule!
Click here to visit Maryanne O'Hara's website.


  1. This sounds so good, I'd love to be entered!

    I follow via GFC- Kirsten!


  2. I loved reading your review of my book, thank you. It's wonderful when people recognize what you tried to do.

    Thanks for being on my blog tour!

  3. this compelling novel interests me greatly. many thanks. saubleb(at)gmail(dot)com

  4. What a wonderful review. This book sounds memorable and special. Thanks for this great giveaway. elliotbencan(at)hotmail(dot)com

  5. I would love to win a copy of this novel. Thank you for the great review and giveaway!

    I am a follower via GFC, Twitter, and Facebook.

  6. Great review. I'm not entering the giveaway, just honestly was interested in your thoughts. Thanks for sharing.

  7. Sounds like a fascinating book, and I love the intriguing cover. Thanks for the giveaway.

    I'm a GFC follower.


  8. Thank you for the giveaway! I can't wait to read this book.

    GFC Follower

  9. I love that Dez has consequences for her behavior, but I love even more that your emotions for her changed over the course of the book. Books like this remind me to not be so judgemental because I don't always know someone's circumstances, feelings, desires, etc.

  10. Hello! I just found your site through TLC, they review a number of great books. I've read some great reviews, so Cascade is one I would like to read. Thanks for the giveaway!

    I am a new follower on GFC
    and goodreads :D

    I will be back! I see you are reading The Winter Witch! That one really sounds interesting too!!!

    Laura Kay

  11. I really want to read this book! I've come across several glowing reviews of Cascade lately and each one makes me want to read the book even more! Thank you for the giveaway!

    GFC, Facebook, RSS, and Twitter follower

  12. Your review has made me want to read this! Thanks for a great giveaway! I follow you with my RSS reader and through google. THANKS FOR A GREAT GIVEAWAY! rexmoy(at)gmail(dot)com

  13. I adored this book -- Dez was hard for me to take at times -- I wanted to shake her! -- but at the end, I was so moved by her personal journey. I loved how O'Hara handled her and the story. So fabu. I'm entering because I'm dying to own this one -- I only had an expiring e-ARC -- so thanks for the giveaway! I'm a follower here, on FB, and on twitter! :)

    audra - unabridgedchick at

  14. I've had my eye on this book for a while now. Great reviews and a wonderful sounding story. Please enter my name for the chance to win a copy. Thanks
    I also follow your blog via GFC: Carl Scott

  15. I want to read and see what choice Dez makes!

    lag110 at mchsi dot com

  16. This sounds like a great story! I follow by email and Facebook.

    Tmrtini at gmail dot com

  17. This is great! I am also a GFC follower -- Meghan Stith.

  18. definitely sounds a book i would enjoy!! thank you for the giveaway!!
    i follow via GFC....

    cyn209 at juno dot com

  19. It looks like an interesting story.
    I follow on GFC - Maureen
    mce1011 AT aol DOT com

  20. THANKS for the giveaway...I love the cover.

    silversolara AT gmail DOT com

  21. OOPS...Forgot to say....I am an old GFC Follower and an e-mail subscriber.

    silversolara AT gmail DOT com


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