Book review and giveaway: Cascade

Cascade Tour Banner



Maryanne O’HARA

(Original Publication Date: Aug 2012, by Viking Adult)

Paperback: 384p
April 30, 2013
Publisher: Penguin Books

Paperback received from Penguin Books
via Historical Fiction Virtual Book Tours


This book counts for the following Reading Challenges:

   hf-reading-challenge-2013 New Authors 2013

where are you reading


To be honest, it took me a while to get into this book. But once the setting and the major elements of the novel were in place, I got hooked.

I also got to love Dez, the main character. At first, I had a hard time accepting what she did: basically accepting to marry a guy just because he had the money, the place for her to live as well as her dying father, and most of all enough dough to preserve her dad’s Shakespeare theater.

However, things soon start to shift, and she has to evolve as well, and decide where her true heart and art are.

For years, a sword of Damocles has hung over their city of Cascade, and now the threat gets closer: the authorities will soon choose which city, Cascade or its neighbor, will be flooded and transformed into a huge reservoir to serve the residents of Boston. And for sure it does not help that all this happens during the Depression.

Will Dez take action to try to save her city? And what is going to happen to the theater?

At another level, one day she meets Jacob, a Jewish artist. He is the only one she can really talk art with and share her passion and painting.

Will their relationship remain on the level of weekly art discussion? Could Jacob be actually the sign for her it’s time to live another life, where her art and heart would have their real place?

I liked the way I saw her grow at all levels. But of course you will need to read the book to know what forks in the road she followed.

As a painter myself, I liked the place of art in the novel, and the descriptions of the paintings and the artist at work. That’s actually the painting element which decided me to accept to post for this Tour.

I also liked the Shakespeare elements, and parallels with several of his plays.
The image of Dez’s father could also be analyzed along these lines, and that may send some not too happy lines on his character.


“You had an idea for something, you clearly saw how it should be executed, yet your execution fell short of your vision.”
My constant struggle as a painter, and as most if not all artists, I believe.


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?


Maryanne O'Hara

Maryanne O’Hara was the longtime associate fiction editor at the award-winning literary journal Ploughshares. She received her MFA from Emerson College fifteen years ago, and wrote short fiction that was widely published before committing to the long form. She lives on a river near Boston.


Come this way!

And visit the Tour to read other reviews of this book,
and for additional chances to win a copy!

Here are the upcoming posts,
but you can still enter on giveaways posted a bit earlier.

Tuesday, June 4
Review at Historical Tapestry & Adventures of an Intrepid Reader
Giveaway at Words and Peace

Wednesday, June 5
Review & Giveaway at A Chick Who Reads

Thursday, June 6
Review at The Little Reader Library

Friday, June 7
Review at A Novel Review
Review & Interview at A Bookish Libraria



21 thoughts on “Book review and giveaway: Cascade

  1. Thanks so much for this thoughtful review of my book. Delighted to hear that you are an artist. I’ve had many working artists contact me after reading the book, to comment on the art aspects. I was also glad to see that you referenced that line from the book. It certainly resonates for writing, too. Thank you. Maryanne O


    • thanks for your feedback, it is always delightful to get in touch with the author of a good book! Funny enough, I had never thought of applying that sentence to the art of writing. that makes sense though. Good luck for the success of your book.


  2. I have not read this book yet but I am always on the lookout for something new and interesting! wonderful review 🙂 i am glad the book panned out for you in the end. I love books where characters grow!


    • thanks Lily! be sure to come back tomorrow for the giveaway!
      just went to see your book blog [cute!] and discovered, so am sending an email your way about possibly reviewing one on a book tour!


  3. Pingback: Giveaway: Cascade | Words And Peace

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  7. I’ve read good reviews of this book, but not been certain it’s for me or not, in part because (as you mention) the main character marries a man for his money. I’m thinking about it more seriously after reading your review, since I do like a novel with some good character development 🙂 Thanks for the helpful review!


  8. Pingback: Giveaway winner: Cascade | Words And Peace

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