Sep 9, 2009

The Day the Falls Stood Still by Cathy Marie Buchanan

Cathy Marie Buchanan's The Day the Falls Stood Still, like the Niagara River and the falls, flows powerfully with majestic danger. Elizabeth "Bess" Heath is a seventeen year-old woman on the brink of the falls contemplating the beauty of the river and feeling its power pushing her forward. Her family is well-positioned, but a turn of the current pushes them down river and leads to tragedy and redemption for Bess.

When she leaves her school life behind at Loretto Academy, she is thrust into adulthood and embarks upon a journey where she comes into her own, earning the pluck Tom Cole, grandson of the famous riverman Fergus Cole, sees in her during their brief encounters at the gates of Glenview.

"As he walks he holds his head in a way that makes it seem he is listening to the river. His intensity is such that to speak would be to interrupt. 'It's worked up tonight,' he says." (Page 15 of ARC)

Buchanan prose is calm, providing readers with an anchor amidst the rapids and whirlpools that threaten to toss Bess out on the streets and into the ditches emotionally and financially. Tom becomes her rock to which she anchors herself, and he provides her with focus, love, desire, and strength, just as the river does for him. However, with the outbreak of WWI and troops sent abroad to fight from Canada at the behest of Great Britain and the rise of hydroelectric power, Bess must find the strength on her own to survive without Tom's guidance and to care for their budding family.

"My Dear Bess,

I am sorry I've taken so long to write, but I have been putting it off, waiting for my mood to change. I am not sick in any way, but I am feeling beaten down--by the smell, the smashed men twitching like squashed charred insects the upright corpses mistaken for living men, the landscape of barren, earth without so much as a blade of grass. I am feeling alone, lost, and I can't figure out how to feel like myself again." (Page 183 of ARC)

As much as The Day the Falls Stood Still is about the impact of industrialization on the Niagara River, the falls, and the community, it also touches upon the environmental impacts of development, the loss of family, the dangers of progress, and the commitment of a man and wife to their family and their principles. Buchanan has created an emotionally charged novel based upon a real legendary riverman, William "Red" Hill. Complete with mock newspaper articles and historical photos and drawings depicting a variety of major events along the river from Bellini tightrope walking across the falls to the collapse of Table Rock.

Buchanan's debut novel is undeniably memorable for its historical references and emotional ties to Bess' family and the Niagara River. The Day the Falls Stood Still will haunt readers after the final page is turned.

Also Reviewed By:
Presenting Lenore



29 comments:

Melody said...

I've heard a lot of good things about this book! Definitely have to add to my wishlist!

Veens said...

SOunds great! I have never read a book of this type I need to definitely add this to my wish list!

Literary Feline said...

The more I read about this book, the more I want to read it. I've been to Niagara Falls twice and I never tire of hearing about the history of the area. Thanks for your great review, Anna!

Sandy Nawrot said...

I think this is probably the third of fourth review I've seen, all of them being very favorable! You all are wearing me down, I'm going to have to see if the library is carrying it. Really incredible review Serena!

Blodeuedd said...

Sounds like a lovely review, I am sure only hearing good things about this one.

Anna said...

Great review! At first, I wasn't sure about this book, but the more reviews I read, the more I'm glad that it's sitting on my desk waiting to be read. I've heard nothing but good things about this book.

--Anna
Diary of an Eccentric

Serena said...

Melody: I really enjoyed this book. I read it in less than two days.

Veens: Great historical fiction about the Niagara Falls area.

Literary Feline: I love Niagara Falls. (Psst...its Serena)

Sandy: I really enjoyed this one and it would be a great one to list in a WWI challenge :)

Blodeuedd: I heard great things about it when Amazon Vine offered it...so I picked it up.

Anna: I wasn't sure about it at first, but ended up loving it. Bess and Tom are great characters.

Jo-Jo said...

Great review Serena...I also loved this book!

Literary Feline said...

LOL Sorry, Serena. It was past my bedtime.

Serena said...

Jo-Jo: I really enjoyed this book too.

Literary Feline: No worries.

Ti said...

I enjoyed this one too. It was a bit different from anything I have ever read.

bermudaonion said...

It sounds like there's a lot packed into this book. I'm looking forward to reading it.

Lenore said...

I won this from LT, so you know I will be reading it soon as well.

Luanne said...

Fantastic reviews all round for this one. Going on my must read list!

Iliana said...

What an interesting book. I like what you said about the mock interviews /articles/etc. That must have added a bit more "realism" to the novel.

naida said...

This one does sound very good.
Great review!
http://thebookworm07.blogspot.com/

Teddyree said...

What a beautifully worded review, this one is definitely going on my wishlist.

J.T. Oldfield said...

The more I hear about this, the more I want to read it.

Staci said...

Great review!! I must get mine off the shelf soon to read!!

Alyce said...

I love good emotional fiction, especially historical fiction. I'm going to have to get my hands on this one at some point. Great review!

carolsnotebook said...

I've seen this one a couple of places now and it sounds really good. Thanks for the review.

Cathy Marie Buchanan said...

Thank you, Serena, for reviewing my book. I do love the idea of readers being haunted by it.

Serena said...

Cathy: I'm looking forward to our interview.

ccqdesigns said...

I visited Niagra Falls when I was 11 and grew up around a hydroelectric dam where my grandfather and father worked. So, I know a lot about the impact both economic and environmental of the dam. This book sounds like just the right touch between fact and fiction.

Pam said...

I've always been in awe of the Falls. I recently read "Too Close to the Falls" which was a memoir of someone growing up near the falls. This sounds like a fantastic read as well.

Linda said...

My son and daughter-in-law lived in Buffalo for many years, and I visited Buffalo and the Falls. Years ago a read a book called City of Light about Buffalo, and I think a girls' academy figured in that novel. Fascinating area and era. I'd love to read the book.

holdenj said...

What a good review. I keep hearing good things about this book. In addition to relationships, I think it's interesting that even "back then" they were thinking of enviromental impacts from the falls.

Amanda said...

This is just an interesting sounding book. I love that the story revolves around the Falls. We plan on seeing the Falls within the year so I'll be reading this one. :) Thanks!

Stephanie said...

Lovely review! I'm linking to it from my blog.