Books Magazine

Book Review: Cascade

Posted on the 30 August 2013 by Anovelsource @thenovellife
368 pages | Publisher: Viking Adult | Published: 8/12

368 pages | Publisher: Viking Adult | Published: 8/12

Well, basically, it’s this: Do I sacrifice my own existence, my own art, for this myth of eternity my father believed in? {Desdemona}

I was drawn to Cascade by its cover before I even knew what the book was about.  With such an unusual and attractive cover the symbolism had to be immeasurable.  A novel of choices, a journey through anti-Semitism of the 30′s in America, a town at the mercy of politics, and an artist and woman trying to find her way in a world run by men.

Desdemona, talented artist, graduate of art school and winner of a prestigious art award ~  she’s also charged with the care of her newly bankrupt and ailing father.  Required to put her dreams of New York City and the art world on hold, Dez marries the local and ultra conservative pharmacist in Cascade, Massachusetts in an effort to find refuge for her father and save his beloved Shakespeare Playhouse.  There’s one enormous problem ~ the town faces demolishing if the Massachusetts Water Board decides to turn Cascade into a reservoir to provide water for Boston.

Two months later Dez’s father dies leaving her in a marriage she does not want and her dreams of art in New York City only a distant memory.  Grieving for her father and the life she wanted, Dez meets Jacob Solomon, traveling salesman and fellow artist.  Also Jewish.  In a time when anti-Semitism was rampant in the US and across the world.  Slowly the two fall in love ~ O’Hara creates an intimate dance that seems to move in slow motion yet all the momentum and pace of the story continues to build.  It was refreshing to read a couple falling in love by shared glances, deep discussions and a meeting of the minds all the while being reserved with physical contact ~ their love grew from shared respect and a love and passion for art.  But a man is found dead and Jacob is fingered as responsible.  Dez escapes Cascade to NYC  in order to work on a postcard project she proposed to nationally syndicated, The American Standard.  A project showing Depression-era small town and Cascade as yet another community victim to the Depression and politics.

Sometimes things are as they must be, he said, not as they ought to be……I’m so sorry, but life is full of tough choices between less-than-perfect alternatives. {Jacob}

A novel that slowly draws you in and doesn’t let go until the last line is read.  A book made for book clubs ~ topics ranging from Dez’s choices as a woman in 1935 America when divorce was not an option and working outside the home was considered taboo; Anti-Semitism and the prejudices of small-town USA; politics and seemingly entitled government that can just demolish a town with a vote and Shakespeare interwoven throughout highlighting the timeless conflicts man {and woman} faces.  Character driven yet action-filled ~ enough to motivate me to keep turning the pages long through the night.  On top of really enjoying the writing, I was fascinated by the history interspersed and found myself looking up many of the events.  Loved this book.  Highly recommended!

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