Friday, January 4, 2013

Cascade: A Novel by Maryanne O'Hara

about book:

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.

my thoughts:

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.
Now, since I didn't finish the book, I feel that I should provide you all with a link to the TLC Book Tour schedule for this novel - that way you can get some other opinions on this book.  And just so you know, I've read some of the other reviews and they are all raving about what an amazing read  Cascade is.  Here's the link: Cascade tour schedule. Check it out!!  And here are links to O'Hara's website and blog
Thanks to TLC Book Tours and the publisher for providing me with a copy of this book!


Ti said...

Oh wow! A DNF so early! Too bad it didn't work for you but if the protagonist is a twit then I can certainly see why.

Nadia said...

Ti, I know! Not a good way to start the new year. Luckily, I read some YA books after CASCADE and now my reading mojo is back. Plus, there were no twits in the books ;)

Heather J. @ TLC Book Tours said...

Darn, I'm sorry this one didn't work for you but thanks for sharing your honest opinion for the tour.

Bellezza said...

Oh, no! A DNF so early in the year! However, it is possible to like the writing while disliking a character. I get that.

techeditor said...

I'm reading this book right now, about halfway through, and I agree with just about everything you say. The writing style is gorgeous, as you say, and that's probably the reason I want to finish the book. As you say, Dez is detestable.

What you don't say is what, more than anything else, makes her detestable: she has a wonderful husband. And the only thing she knows about her lover is that he's an artist. Another reason I want to finish the book is that I hope she gives up her husband, goes off with the lover, and becomes even more miserable.

Or maybe my opinion will change by the time I finish. For now, the story is dragging for me.

The Relentless Reader said...

Bah, a dnf. I detest those little time suckers. Here's to moving on to something a LOT better :)

Unknown said...

Ah Dez, sometimes misunderstood in the early pages. But thank you, Nadia, for being part of the blog tour, and for writing an honest, and in many ways, positive review.

It's been fascinating for me, as the writer, to see the broad range of reactions to both Dez and her husband. Makes me realize just how subjective reading really is...

Anyway, thank you again. Happy new year to all.

Maryanne O

Holly (2 Kids and Tired) said...

Pretty great review of a book you didn't like! DNFs are hard. Hopefully there won't be any more like this!

Lisa said...

What a disappointment! And I'd been looking forward to this one!

Nadia said...

Heather, thanks for having me on this book tour :)

Bellezza, I know, right! Oh well. And, thanks, I'm glad I'm not the only one who can like the writing but not the character :)

Jennifer, me too! And, I did :)

Maryanne, thank you so much for stopping by. Happy New Year to you!

Holly, thanks and fingers crossed!

Lisa, it could just be me. The consensus on other blogs is rather glowing. Hope you enjoy it :)