Cascade, Massachusetts, 1935. Desdemona Hart Spaulding, a talented young artist who studied in Paris, has sacrificed her dreams of working in New York City to put a roof over her newly bankrupt and ailing father's head. Two months later he has died and Dez is bound by the promises she has made to her father, her husband, and her town. Dez is stifled by her marriage to kind but conservative Asa, who is impatient to start a family, and her ambitions are fading. She also stands to lose her father's legacy, the Cascade Shakespeare Theatre, as Massachusetts decides whether to flood Cascade to create a new reservoir for Boston.
Amid this turmoil arrives Jacob Solomon, a fellow artist and kindred spirit for whom Dez feels an immediate and strong attraction. As their relationship reaches a pivotal moment, a man is found dead and the town points its collective finger at Jacob, a Jewish outsider. When an unexpected acclaim and a chance to recapture her lost dreams of life in New York City arise, Dez must make an impossible choice.
As the threads of this enthralling novel intertwine, they weave a portrait of an unforgettable young woman who finds herself caught in the age-old struggle between duty and desire.
Alright, this review is going to be short and to the point - mainly, because I didn't finish the book. Ugh! My first DNF of 2013! Not a good way to start the new year, but what do you do? And just so you know, it wasn't the writing that turned me off of the book, it was the protagonist, Dez. I just did not like Dez and therefore I couldn't really enjoy the book. I know its crazy to let a character stop me from reading, but sometimes it happens and this is one of those times. Here goes:
- The story is about a woman who sacrifices her dreams of pursuing a career in art in order to go home and attend to her ailing father. She winds up marrying a man she doesn't love and is saddled with reviving the Shakespeare theatre her father has left behind. Oh, and the town of Cascade may be flooded, thereby wiping out Dez's hometown. And did I mention Jacob - a man who catches Dez's fancy. Talk about drama, drama, drama! Just reading what the story is about would make me think I was in for a treat - interesting story lines about art, love, death and life. However, I just could not get into this story at all - the reason being Dez!
- Dez is the protagonist of the story and pretty much brings the whole mood of the story down with her incessant need to whinge about everything -"Woe is me!" I get it, your life sucks - do something about it! Instead of just wondering what could have been, or what if she had done this instead of that, Dez just does nothing. She becomes rather selfish and immature with regards to her actions - they are all forms of self-sabotage. Its rather annoying and made me want to roll my eyes the entire time I was reading. So, I figured it was probably for the best if I just stopped reading.
- Aside from my extreme dislike of Dez, the writing was terrific! Seriously, it was. O'Hara brings these characters to life so realistically - she really draws them out (to the point that I wanted to shake some sense into Dez!) - with her story lines involving forbidden love, The Great Depression, and anti-Semitism. She creates beautiful images with her inclusion of art and manages to use water as a metaphor for Dez's emotional state in such a poignant manner. The pace and flow of the story is rather slow, but I think that just adds to the emotional aspect of the story, as well as to the literal concept of flooding a town (building up to the rise and then fall). From what I read, O'Hara's debut novel is definitely a must-read. I'm just sorry I gave up so early. Perhaps, I'll pick it up again and give it another go - you never know, Dez may not drive me so crazy next time.
TLC Book Tours and the publisher for providing me with a copy of this book!