The Day the Falls Stood Still by Cathy Marie Buchanan
Fiction; 320 pgs
I have tears in my eyes as I sit down to write this review. Cathy Marie Buchanan's novel could not have ended any other way, really. This book is both beautiful and bittersweet. This is the type of romantic story I enjoy most--one that is realistic, one that is about falling in love and about life after that initial fall.
Niargara Falls entered my heart the first time I visited when I was a child and again when I was able to visit with my husband. Seeing beyond the tourist trappings and commercialization, the Falls are one of the most beautiful natural landmarks I have ever seen. To say it is majestic is not an overstatement.
I am always fascinated by the history of the places I visit, and it was no different when visiting Niagara Falls. I loved hearing and reading about the daredevils who went over the falls in barrels and other contraptions, hoping to conquer the water. Then there were the whirlpools, the botanical gardens, the history of the power companies harnessing the water. And, of course, the fact that to Falls really do stand still. I continue to get unbelieving shakes of the head and skeptical looks when I mention it to those not familiar with Niagara Falls.
Cathy Marie Buchanan not only recreates the history of Niagara Falls in her novel, but she also gives it a more personal, human face. This story follows the life of Bess, a young woman whose family was fairly well to do up until her father lost his job with the power company. Suddenly, Bess's world changes. Her mother has to go to work, her father drowns himself in alcohol, and her older sister, once engaged to a well-respected man, is wasting away, clearly depressed.
When the book begins, Bess is a naive 16 year old, still full of hopes and dreams. Her worries are mostly superficial and she knows very little of the world outside. Over the course of the book, she grows and adapts in ways that she probably couldn't have imagined as she stood looking out her window on her last day of school. In a way, this book is her coming of age story. It is also her love story. The story of how she met a river man, a man far below her station, fell in love, and then had to decide whether or not to pursue him.
Tom reminded me of my husband and I think that is why I fell in love with his character in The Day the Falls Stood Still. My husband is no man of nature, no river man, the way Tom is, but they have similar natures in other ways.
While I loved the first part of the book in which Tom and Bess get to know each other and fall in love, it was later in the book, after a horrible tragedy, when I was completely swept off my feet. That's when we really get to see the depth of Bess and Tom's characters. They both had to make sacrifices that changed them, both for the better and the worse.
It is obvious the author has a special connection to the setting of the novel. Her love for Niagara Falls comes through in her descriptions of the area and of its history. Just as I was drawn to the love story and the characters and their troubles, both the major and minor characters, I was also drawn to the historical aspect of the novel. The politics of the time were not so different than they are now in some respects. Greed and power are strong motivators; progress is as well. And yet at what cost to the environment? I could see where Bess's father was coming from with his viewpoints as well as Tom, although I tended to agree more with Tom.
The novel opens in 1915 and covers the course of several years. World War I is underway and Canada is feeling the strain of having to conserve and sending her men off to war. Bess and Tom are not untouched by the war, nor by the after affects of those directly impacted by fighting in the war. So much death and violence can kill one's spirit. We see it today in our soldiers who have returned home from the battlefield, but I think sometimes we forget it isn't something new.
There is so much more I want to say about this book. I knew I would like it when I first began reading, and possibly even love it. I most certainly loved it. The Day the Falls Stood Still is not only a well written novel, it is one that really touched my heart. It is novel of history, enduring love, sacrifice, and of hope. I hope you will read it if you haven't already.
You can learn more about Cathy Marie Buchanan and her books on the author's website.
Source: I purchased both a hardcover copy and e-copy of this book for my own reading pleasure.
© 2013, Wendy Runyon of Musings of a Bookish Kitty. All Rights Reserved. If you're reading this on a site other than Musings of a Bookish Kitty or Wendy's feed, be aware that this post has been stolen and is used without permission.
I loved this one as well. So happy it was such a wonderful experience for you Wendy.ReplyDelete
Diane - I am glad you loved this one also! I can see this book as one I might re-read at some point.Delete
I can tell this book really touched you. I need to make the time to read it. It sounds like I'll want to visit the Falls after I do.ReplyDelete
Kathy - I am kicking myself for putting it off so long. And, of course, now I want to visit the Falls again.Delete
I love the cover. Great review as well, I'm sure that this is a book I'd also love.ReplyDelete
Tracy - I like the cover too. I hope you do get a chance to read it. I would love to know what you think.Delete
I loved this book as well. One of my favorites.ReplyDelete
Bridget - I can see why you liked this one so much. It's definitely among my favorites as well.Delete
I am glad you enjoyed this. I read it when it first came out and loved it. There is a lot of buzz about her new book, too... Which I have and haven't read yet. Story of my bookshelves...ReplyDelete
Kelly - I wish I hadn't waited so long to read it, but you know how that goes all too well, don't you? I've heard great things about her new book and am looking forward to reading it. Since I liked this one so much, hopefully I won't wait so long to read that one! But you know how that goes too. LOLDelete
Wow - this is quite a review! I'm adding this one to my list to read in 2014.ReplyDelete
Carrie - I hope you do get a chance to read it, Carrie!Delete
Great review! Now I think this book has sat unread for too long on my shelf. I'll try to make time for it next year. :)ReplyDelete
Anna - I've had a hardcover copy since the book first came out. I'm ashamed to say it's sat this long unread on my shelf. I actually ended up buying an e-copy and read it on my Kindle even with the print copy right there on my shelf. I'm crazy that way.Delete
I have been looking at this one, wondering if I should pick it up ,and never got around to it. Well now your review has me convinced I have to try it. At the least, because it's set at Niagara Falls, which we visited two years ago and I loved. Your review is wonderful and glowing and the book sounds interesting. Thanks, Wendy!ReplyDelete
Susan - It's one of my favorite places. I knew I wanted to read the book when I first heard about it, but for some reason it took me forever to get to it.Delete
Wonderful review Wendy! I love not just reading about the book but how you connected to it. It's on my list!ReplyDelete
Iliana - Thank you! This is definitely one of my favorite books this year.Delete
Thank you for this lovely review. So glad you got to read my homage to my home town. Your husband must be an excellent guy. I've had so many readers tell me they fell in love with Tom.ReplyDelete
Cathy - My husband is a wonderful person. I am so lucky to have him in my life. Thank you for writing such an amazing book. I know it is one I will return to again and again.Delete
Oh goodness. I have only heard and read fabulous reviews about this book and I've had it on my TBR shelf since it came out. Your thoughts make me want to get to it sooner rather than later!ReplyDelete
Joy - I am so glad I finally read this one. It'd been sitting on my shelf forever too. I hope you enjoy it when you do read it.Delete
This was one of my favorite books a couple of years ago and our book club even got to Skype with Cathy which always makes me like a book more!ReplyDelete
Lisa - How cool is that?! I am glad your book club was able to connect with the author that way.Delete