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Monday, August 2, 2010

The Day the Falls Stood Still...Review

About the book:
Steeped in the intriguing history of Niagara Falls, this epic love story is as rich, spellbinding, and majestic as the falls themselves.

1915. The dawn of the hydroelectric power era in Niagara Falls. Seventeen-year-old Bess Heath has led a sheltered existence as the youngest daughter of the director of the Niagara Power Company. After graduation day at her boarding school, she is impatient to return to her picturesque family home near Niagara Falls. But when she arrives, nothing is as she had left it. Her father has lost his job at the power company, her mother is reduced to taking in sewing from the society ladies she once entertained, and Isabel, her vivacious older sister, is a shadow of her former self. She has shut herself in her bedroom, barely eating--and harboring a secret.

The night of her return, Bess meets Tom Cole by chance on a trolley platform. She finds herself inexplicably drawn to him--against her family's strong objections. He is not from their world. Rough-hewn and fearless, he lives off what the river provides and has an uncanny ability to predict the whims of the falls. His daring river rescues render him a local hero and cast him as a threat to the power companies that seek to harness the power of the falls for themselves. As their lives become more fully entwined, Bess is forced to make a painful choice between what she wants and what is best for her family and her future.

Set against the tumultuous backdrop of Niagara Falls, at a time when daredevils shot the river rapids in barrels and great industrial fortunes were made and lost as quickly as lives disappeared, The Day the Falls Stood Still is an intoxicating debut novel.

Having visited Niagara Falls and loved it, I can honestly say that, historically, this is a lovely book.  The descriptions are rich, the story compelling and the photos enthralling.   It has all the makings of a wonderful, timeless story.  The controversy over the power plants and the environmental concerns is timeless.  People falling in love, marrying and trying to provide for their families is timeless.  Job loss and war and death of loved ones is timeless.

I liked Bess and Tom.  I liked how Bess found the strength within herself to do what she needed to do when it came to not only following her heart, but to providing for her family.  I loved the weaving of history and Tom's ability to predict what the river would do.  I didn't like the underlying sadness, but there are those who will reply that sadness and disappointment are an integral part of life.  I don't disagree. 

This is one of those stories that I can see being read in an English class or Book Club:  something that is meant to be thought-provoking and discussed, but ultimately not one that you remember for the enjoyment of reading it.

Thanks to Hyperion Books for the opportunity to review this book.  You can learn more about Cathy Marie Buchanan here. You can purchase your own copy here.

Read 7/10

* * 
2/5 Stars


  1. Loved this one, for all of the same reasons you did. I could see this being a great book club selection, too.

  2. I'm glad to see this one's so good!

  3. This book touched me so deeply. I loved it as you did.

  4. This does sound pretty interesting though. I can see though that underlying sadness might detract from a really great read.

  5. I enjoyed the first person present tense writing of this book. It lent a sweetness to the story. I wanted a bit more of the magic she started out with and ended with...the sparkles in the spray of the falls...symbolic of her faith...the pearls. It was a good story. It made me want to see the falls.