Monday, April 29, 2013

Review of Cascade by Maryanne O'Hara

After reading Cascade by Maryanne O'Hara I can't help but wonder what I would have chosen to do given the decade, economics, choices Desdemona Spaulding was forced with in this novel. Des is a young wife who finds her self in a marraige she doesn't seem all that interested in being in anymore but really doesn't have much choice because the novel begins in the Great Depression era, and takes place in the small Massachusetts town named Cascade. The town of Cascade is in jeopardy of becoming a ghost town since Boston is in need of a reservoir. While Des is hopeful that she can somehow make her way back to New York to become the famous artist she longs to be, she is held back by her promise to her father in saving his Shakespear theater as well as her obligations as a wife to Asa.

What I enjoyed most about this novel is that I felt like I was in this small town with Des and could actually feel the emotional tug of war her heart was having. She was not only tasked with deciding between her own dream or her father's dream, but she also had to choose between her husband or her lover. Yes! It does get a little juicy... but not in a sleazy way. The situations that Des was placed in were not unique to the 1930s era this book is written in. The idea that marraige and children would cause dreams to be placed on the shelf, never to be discovered again, is always a relatable story especially when coupled with an interesting character such as Des.

I appreciated the amount of detail and imagery used in Cascade. It's often hard visualizing the art an author is describing because the details are too little or the author's vision doesn't equal their literary abilities. Thankfully, O'Hara does not have this problem. O'Hara completely makes the reader feel they are sharing the room with Des. The only time I may have felt there were some ackward instances in the writing was in O'Hara's use of foreshadowing.

Although I found there to be a lot of development in the main characters Des, Asa, and Jacob, I found many of the secondary characters never came to life for me. They were only brought in when necessary to move the story along, which is fine, but I expected more. When much of the first half of the book is about the disassembling of the town, I expected there to be more of a town presence than just at one town meeting or used when moving gossip along as a tool for Des' angst.

Overall, I really enjoyed this beautifully written novel about change, morals, and decisions. I imagine that lover's of women's literature and book clubs will want to read this novel if not for any reason other than it's beautiful cover. This novel makes a strong case that change is often the greatest blessing and we can either heed its beckoning, or get washed away in its current.***

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