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Thursday, June 6, 2013

"Cascade" by Maryanne O'Hara~ Spectacular, Sparkling Writing!


During the 1930s in a small town fighting for its survival, a conflicted new wife seeks to reconcile her artistic ambitions with the binding promises she has made.

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 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?

A Slate Magazine “Best Books 2012″
A People Magazine “People Pick”
A Library Journal 2012 “Best Bet”
Boston Globe “Best of the New, 2012″
A Massachusetts “Must Read, 2013″



Published by:  Penguin Press
Pages:  353  Plus Author's Notes and Reader's Guide
Genre:  Fiction/Historical Fiction
Author:  Maryanne O'Hara
Purchase this book:  Barnes & Noble  or Amazon


I have lived on this Massachusetts river for most of my adult life, and I feel lucky to have landed on such a restorative shore at an early age. As a young mother caring for a baby born with a complicated, life-threatening illness (cystic fibrosis), I filled a lot of spiral-bound notebooks with a lot of angst while gazing out at this body of water. By my early thirties, in full-fledged, (and thankfully early) mid-life crisis, I sent myself to the MFA program at Emerson College, where I met many of the wonderful people who have enriched and encouraged my writing life to this day.

In the late 1990s, I began to write and publish short stories, as I’d dreamed of doing during those notebook-filling days. I also spent many years as the Associate Fiction Editor for Ploughshares, the award-winning Boston literary journal. My growing story collection was a finalist for awards like the Iowa Short Fiction Awards and the Flannery O’Connor Award for Short Fiction. Some of the stories were anthologized, and I won some grants in Massachusetts (thank you St. Botolph Club and Massachusetts Cultural Council). With my husband Nick, we focused on being present in each day and giving our daughter the best life we possibly could.

It is so gratifying to see Cascade published, to know that it exists in solid form, that it has a Library of Congress number.

When I’m not writing or reading, I’m either traveling or planning a trip, or I’m in the kitchen trying out a new recipe, planning a party, or I’m in a yoga studio, gym, kayak, or tennis center. Service has always been important to me, and currently, I spend Wednesdays at Boston’s Brigham and Women’s Hospital, providing Reiki to inpatients.

I’m now working on a novel about an oral historian who comes across an object in a museum exhibit, an object that had been stolen from his family—or so he thought—when he was a boy. Currently, the story alternates between the present day and 1968 Prague, but that may change. What won’t change: the book will be about family secrets and love and betrayal, and about how the cultures we live in both hinder and help us preserve what is most sacred to the artist in all of us.

(This bio. was taken from Ms O'Hara's website  Please go there to see more very interesting things about her and her writing!  http://www.maryanneohara.com )


Utterly devoted to Maryanne O'Hara as a reader now that I've read "Cascade."  She is a writer of the very first order.  Earthy and visceral, her novel is captivatingly "real."  This is a true love story in many ways; its passions having to do not only with human relationships, but also with the inner drives of artistry and nature.  A masterful novel that will be a stand-alone for 2013!

The story is character-driven as so many of our greatest novels are.  The main character, Dez Hart, who makes known the "desires of her heart" is completely open and attainable to us, although not so transparent to those physically around her.  She is so beautifully rendered that she haunted my dreams.  I felt such sympathy for her struggles over the love of her art, her responsibilities, and her personal passions.  I felt the slippery slopes she tred trying not to harm others, while trying to find her own footing.  There was a feverishness about this character that held me in perfect pitch with her.  This is genius in writing and is so rare to find today.

There are many examples of how Ms O'Hara is painterly in her descriptions of the landscape and natural surroundings of Cascade, the community.  Beautifully handled passages that make you want to climb into her novel and find a place to rest.  It's difficult not to fall in love with her father's old Playhouse and the woods and lake of Cascade.  Her descriptions of the artist's process are right on the money.

The other characters that inhabit this book are alive, as well.  Burning with different, individual emotions that particularly set them apart, they are so interesting as studies in human behavior.  And, I felt a sort of fuge hanging over the story with them as they encircled Dez in her efforts to disentangle herself and head in the direction she felt most personally drawn.

This is one of those books you have to read this year!  It's absorbing and written with an artist's hand.  It brings a surprise and a message of intensity.  It's a woman's story, an artist's story, and the story of all who care about the world around them.

It's one of the best!

5 stars               Deborah/TheBookishDame

This review is brought to you in cooperation with Historical Fiction Virtual Book Tours where you can find more information and more tours/reviews and interviews on "Cascade."  Please click on this link:  http://hfvirtualbooktours.com




I found Cascade to be a beauty of a read too. I am glad to see it getting some well desrved blog space. Thank you for the wonderful review.
- Belle

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