"The Day the Falls Stood Still" by Cathy Marie Buchanan
Publisher: Voice (August 25, 2009)
ISBN-10: 1401340970 ISBN-13: 978-1401340971
The Burton Review Rating:
1915. The dawn of the hydroelectric power era in Niagara Falls. Seventeen-year-old Bess Heath has led a sheltered existence as the youngest daughter of the director of the Niagara Power Company. After graduation day at her boarding school, she is impatient to return to her picturesque family home near Niagara Falls. But when she arrives, nothing is as she had left it. Her father has lost his job at the power company, her mother is reduced to taking in sewing from the society ladies she once entertained, and Isabel, her vivacious older sister, is a shadow of her former self. She has shut herself in her bedroom, barely eating--and harboring a secret.
The night of her return, Bess meets Tom Cole by chance on a trolley platform. She finds herself inexplicably drawn to him--against her family's strong objections. He is not from their world. Rough-hewn and fearless, he lives off what the river provides and has an uncanny ability to predict the whims of the falls. His daring river rescues render him a local hero and cast him as a threat to the power companies that seek to harness the power of the falls for themselves. As their lives become more fully entwined, Bess is forced to make a painful choice between what she wants and what is best for her family and her future.
Set against the tumultuous backdrop of Niagara Falls, at a time when daredevils shot the river rapids in barrels and great industrial fortunes were made and lost as quickly as lives disappeared, The Day the Falls Stood Still is an intoxicating debut novel."
This is an informative look on the impact of both the electric powerhouses of the times, and the majestic force of the Niagara. The story moves swiftly and is sadly poignant but engrossing all the same. Giving the novel an even more realistic flavor is the attention given to the dressmaking projects that Bess takes on, as this is how many women helped to support the family in the days of WWI. The few criticisms I have is that the book ended, and that the back cover exposes a major turning point in the book that should not have been given away on the back cover (which will not be divulged here). This is not for the weak of heart as it is certainly not a happy-joy-joy type of book. The ending leaves you feeling bereft through its heart wrenching details, but this makes for a compelling read and I recommend it for the main character's fortitude and strength. I look forward to future works by Cathy Marie Buchanan, so that I can again relive the intense drama that she writes.
The author Cathy Marie Buchanan will be adorning this blog with a guest post/author's note tomorrow, in which she speaks of the legendary rescuer William 'Red' Hill and shares some older photos of the Niagara Falls. I would love for you to stop by and enter the giveaway for this novel then!
If you cannot wait for the giveaway and absolutely must purchase this because I have written such an awesome review, then please visit:
Amazon, B&N, Powell's or an independent bookseller to purchase!
If you have written a review and would like for me to link you to this post, please leave a comment and I will do so.