Tuesday, September 14, 2010

The Day the Falls Stood Still: Beautiful historical novel about Niagara Falls

The Day the Falls Stood Still The Day the Falls Stood Still by Cathy Marie Buchanan
My rating:
4 of 5 stars

Bess is seventeen, finishing up her junior year at a Catholic school overlooking Niagara Falls. She has grown up the pampered daughter of a man who heads the hydroelectric company. When her father gets sacked and becomes unemployed, her life changes dramatically. She returns home to find that nothing is the same.

Her beloved sister is terribly depressed, her dad is gone drinking all day long, and her mother takes in sewing to keep the family afloat. Bess meets Tom, a rough-and-ready river man. Tom makes his living by working in a bar and fishing dead bodies out of the river.

Having visited Niagara Falls last August, I loved reading about life in the region in the early part of this century. Much Buchanan writes about the river I did not always follow, but I enjoyed her storytelling.

Bess was a spirited, strong young woman, and she and Tom were able to find some happiness in the midst of great hardship. Tom is concerned about the hydroelectric companies tapping so much from the river, and he fights this push toward "progress" with his whole being, even when he makes a deep personal sacrifice for his own family.

Here's the spoiler: This book is very sad in a couple of places. This is the second sad novel I've read in a row--time for a happy book! But I enjoyed it nevertheless.

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