Review: “Cascade” by Maryanne O’Hara

I heard great things about this novel, so I knew I needed to read it. Then I saw that the author will be speaking at the Concord Bookstore next week, so I knew I had to buy it since the wait list at the library was soooo long. I read it last week and just loved this compelling and thought-provoking novel!

“Cascade” is the story of Desdemona Hart Spaulding, an artist in the 1930’s, who has married for comfort, not love, and who feels too confined in her hometown of Cascade, Massachusetts. Dez’ father has owned and ran the town’s Shakespearean theater, but he passes away at the start of the novel, leaving the theater to Dez’ husband, Asa, the town’s well-respected pharmacist. As the story starts, Dez has befriended a local travelling salesman, the Jewish artist Jacob Solomon. Dez dreams of leaving Massachusetts with Jacob and going to New York to draw and be free. Her husband, of course, has other ideas. Behind this storyline is the back story of the town itself: Cascade is being considered for demolition so that the state can create a water reservoir for the people of Boston. The townspeople, led in part by Asa, are trying to save their town, and Dez uses her art as a way to help the cause. Will the town be spared? Will Dez’s feelings for Jacob lead to actions she may regret? Will she stay forever at home with Asa or become the artist she feels she is capable of being?

I just loved reading this book. It is beautifully written with a well-paced, well-plotted story. The symbolism of the river and the damming of the river tying in to emotions and the release of emotions and feelings really spoke to me. While I loved this story, I didn’t love Dez. I thought she was extremely self-centered and self-serving. However, Dez’s actions, as well as Jacob’s, seemed fairly true to life to me. Sometimes the people you hold most dear disappoint you.

I loved, loved, loved it —

I also loved the cover!!

And this is a great You Tube book trailer: