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Cascade: A Novel [Kindle Edition]

Maryanne O'Hara
4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (146 customer reviews)

Print List Price: $16.00
Kindle Price: $10.99
You Save: $5.01 (31%)
Sold by: Penguin Group (USA) LLC

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Book Description

A painter is hired to create images of her doomed town before it is wiped off the map.

Desdemona Hart Spaulding, a promising, Paris-trained artist, marries in
haste and settles in the small, once-fashionable summer town
of Cascade to 1) provide a home for her bankrupt father and 2) save the
family's renowned Shakespeare theater. Now Cascade is on the short list
to be flooded to provide drinking water for Boston, MA, and Dez's
growing discontent is complicated by her friendship with Jacob, a fellow
artist. When tragic events force Dez to make hard choices, she grapples
with equally hard questions: Must she keep her promises? Is it morally
possible to set herself free?

"What do we have to give up to
be whom we yearn to be?  CASCADE unfolds like a Shakespearean tragedy,
with an ending you won't see coming.
The Boston Globe

written and involving, Cascade explores the age-old conflict between a
woman's perceived duty and her deepest desires." People Magazine, People

CASCADE deftly interweaves a town's impending destruction and struggles during the Depression with small-town anti-Semitism and the bohemian art world of Greenwich Village.

Inaugural selection of The Boston Globe Book Club.
Massachusetts "Must Read" Fiction, 2013.
Massachusetts Book Award Finalist 2013.
Slate Magazine "Best Books '12," "Summer Reads '13.
People Magazine "People Pick."
People Magazine "Great Reads in Paperback."
Boston Globe "Best of the New, 2012.
Library Journal 2012 "Best Bet."
NPR--Radio Boston: Good Reads for Summer '13
Design Observer--50 Books/50 Covers, Winner, 2012

Editorial Reviews


An artist is hired to paint images of her doomed town before it is wiped off the map.
  • The Boston Globe Book Club - Inaugural Pick
  • People Magazine "People Pick of the Week"
  • People Magazine "Great Reads, New in Paperback"
  • MLA "Must Read" Fiction Honors
  • Finalist, Massachusetts Book Award
  • Slate Magazine "Best Books," "Best Summer Reads″
  • WBUR Radio Boston: Good Reads for Summer
  • Boston Globe "Best of the New″
  • Library Journal "Best Bet"

People Magazine, "People Pick"
& "Great Reads, New in Paperback"
Gorgeously written & involving, Cascade explores the age-old conflict between a woman's perceived duty and her deepest desires."

The Boston Globe Sunday Book Review--What do we have to give up to be whom we yearn to be? O'Hara's richly satisfying new novel grapples with small town limitations vs. big city sparkle, as well as the twists and turns in life that can either make or derail us. What makes the story all the more engrossing is that it's set against the eerie backdrop of 1930s Cascade, Mass., a town about to be flooded to make way for a reservoir. CASCADE unfolds like a Shakespearean tragedy, with an ending you won't see coming.
Slate: 2012 Best Books, Editors' Choice
..Trouble escalates, and so will the rate at which you turn the pages. Cascade is perfect for sitting by the fire on a chilly day contemplating the immutability of things."

Boston Globe, Best of the New, 2012
O'Hara, a former Ploughshares fiction editor, shapes her protagonist's story to pose questions like: If art is not lastingly valuable, what is? Ponder that over your next glass of tap water.

From the Author

As I wrote CASCADE, I had a line by the late Seamus Heaney running through my head: You lose more of yourself than you redeem/Doing the decent thing

I wanted CASCADE to explore "what is a decent choice?" and "how does a decent choice differ from a right choice?" and "who decides what is right?"

I wrote many of the Reader's Guide questions and designed them to provoke discussion and argument. Please feel free to contact me on my author page to discuss/Skype, etc.

Product Details

  • File Size: 725 KB
  • Print Length: 365 pages
  • Publisher: Penguin Books; Reprint edition (August 16, 2012)
  • Sold by: Penguin Group (USA) LLC
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B0072NWJIO
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Not Enabled
  • Lending: Not Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #138,952 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
25 of 26 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars read it read it READ IT! August 16, 2012
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
At first glance, it's easy to mistake Maryanne O'Hara's compelling debut novel for a sort of woman's romantic novel, given the beauty of the cover, but it isn't at all. Inside that cover lies a great read for anyone, male or female, who loves a smart story. Set in 1930s Massachusetts, "Cascade" is about big change, ambition, mystery, hope, mortality, tradition, a wrong marriage, the possibility of passion, and the cost of pursuing what most matters. This is a dramatic, suspenseful, beautifully written and wise novel that highlights the timelessness of our questions and struggles as people. Read it, pass it around, give it to everyone on your gift list. Wonderful.
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27 of 29 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Beautifully written August 18, 2012
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
It's been awhile since I've enjoyed a novel as much as this one. I found it difficult to put down and read it in two days. The story itself has so much...history, fiction based on some fact, a love story, thought-provoking issues and a wonderful plot so beautifully written.

The main character is an artist, but I loved how O'Hara wrote in such a way that many of the things she said could also be attributed to writers or any of the arts. Her writing is so vivid I was immediately immersed in the town of Cascade in the 1930's and swept along in Dez's life as a woman trying to figure out what, exactly, that life was supposed to hold for her.

This is one of those novels that will stay with me long after I finished that final page and I highly recommend this one.
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14 of 14 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Cascade August 21, 2012
This novel will stay with me always. I relate to Dez in so many ways .. her desire to have and/or leave a meaning for having "been." She struggled with finding her way, and juggling so many pressures from so many people she loved and/or those who seemingly loved her. To be an artist, to be an woman, to be an independent thinker .. in that time (or this time really, in many ways) was so incredibly challenging. The inward struggle of wrestling with one's own true convictions (when up against almost insurmountable odds) is such a universal siutation. Many people, including me -- especially me -- will find themselves somewhere in Dez, her doomed town of Cascade, or her time. Glory is fleeting, but what lasts -- that is the thing. This exquisite rendition of the artistry of this real imaginary woman will remain with me always. Always.
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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Refreshingly Unpredictable August 16, 2012
By Martha
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
A Refreshingly unpredictable story!
A story that captivates and reels you into the small fading town of Cascade , its people and their complexities.
Beautifully and so imaginatively written that you will surely find it difficult to put down , as I did.
It leaves you with the question " what legacy will I leave behind"?
Highly recommend !
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11 of 12 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Great Writing - Didn't Like the Main Character December 26, 2012
Desdemona Hart is the daughter of the owner of a Shakespearean Playhouse. He is facing bankruptcy so Dez leaves the freedom of the art world she loves to come home and marry staid, solid Asa Spaulding who takes her father in just as he falls ill. Dez is expected to be a model housewife and produce little Asas and Desdemonas as soon as possible but she feels constricted by small town life and by marriage. Her father passes a mere two months after she weds and she finds that he signed the playhouse over to her husband and all he leaves her is a prop from one of the plays - Portia's casket ( a small jewelry box like item) to be opened when the playhouse re - opens. The only light in her life is the time spent with a traveling salesman, Jacob. He is also an artist and he understands her in a way that her husband does not.

The town where she lives is under consideration to be destroyed and flooded to provide a water source for Boston and Asa is fighting hard against it but Dez has mixed feelings - it might free her from Cascade. And possibly from Asa. As the town waits for the news so does Dez wait to decide exactly what to do.

I had a hard time with this book despite the excellent writing because I had a very hard time liking Dez. Nothing made her happy; even when she finally found a touch of success with her art she was still whining. I suppose it was the time; women of that time period were not particularly aggressive or self supporting but Dez sometimes had the hardest time make the simplest decisions and this drove me to distraction. She wanted to be free but she couldn't let go of her father's legacy. She wanted to be free but she still needed a man. I just didn't get her.

The historical aspects of the book and period details were fascinating and were written in seamlessly. The reader gets a true feel for what the times must have been like. The details surrounding the artistic process are well described and were very interesting as well.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars CASCADE: Unforgettable October 21, 2012
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
Dez wants to paint. However, in order to provide for her aging father, she marries Asa, the town pharmacist. Her loveless marriage causes much confusion in her life. Her husband wants babies, as any traditional 1930's marriage would have. However, she does not want to be tied down in this way. Babies would keep her from her work. As Dez deals with this inner turmoil, her town suffers turmoil as well. Cascade is one of the towns that are considered expendable in favor of drinking water for the growing city of Boston. Cascade might be the town that would be flooded in order to create the essential reservoir. But what would happen to her father's beloved Shakespearean playhouse? Just prior to his death, Dez had promised her father that she would reopen the playhouse doors as soon as the Depression-wracked economy improved.

Artistically crafted, this author clearly expresses the indescribable emotions that we have all experienced. The characters are very realistic and experience poignant, accurate emotions. Her words flow like poetry and her novel reads easily and quickly. This book will keep you up nights!

Cascade! What a perfect name for this book! Of course, this book is the name of the town in this novel. However, it also speaks of the progress of our lives, the inevitability of change, the impermanence of things, the constant momentum, the movement. It reminds me of the many paths our lives may take, depending upon which decisions we make. This title is also reminiscent of the waters that slowly filled the town, flooding it and its memories. This is one memorable book that truly speaks to the reader.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars Great fictionalization of the Quabbin
Great fictionalization of the Quabbin. I was especially interested in the back story revolving around WWII and the national, yes American, negativity toward the Jewish people. Read more
Published 15 days ago by Kelley McLean
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Wonderful story amazing Author
Published 25 days ago by RRW
3.0 out of 5 stars The story triggered good discussion but had a difficult time getting...
Read for book club. The story triggered good discussion but had a difficult time getting into the book. Had trouble relating to main character. Would not recommend.
Published 28 days ago by J. Gutner
3.0 out of 5 stars Three Stars
It took awhile to get into this book but good story once I did.
Published 1 month ago by Jennifer Maynard
5.0 out of 5 stars The reason I like the book so much is that O'Hara not only ...
I may be prejudiced in favor of this novel because I live just west of Boston, not too far from the Quabbin Reservoir which is the real life site of not one, but four... Read more
Published 1 month ago by Decodilly
4.0 out of 5 stars Really enjoyed it
I grew up in Massachusetts and visited Quabbin reservoir a number of times. Perhaps that made the story told more interesting to me. Read more
Published 1 month ago by auggie's mom
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Great deep story about a woman, an artist, a daigjter, wife, lover- all woven wonderfully.
Published 1 month ago by Amazon Customer
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Beautifully written with strong imagery. Great for Book Club discussions.
Published 1 month ago by Annie from MA
2.0 out of 5 stars Audio Book- Pass on this one, audiophiles, the reader ruins it....
Topic was very interesting, but the audio reader ruins the book. Madeleine Lambert speaks as if every sentence has an exclamation point at the end. Read more
Published 1 month ago by squeaks1111
4.0 out of 5 stars A Beautiful Cascade of Characters
This is the first book I've read from this author, and I enjoyed it. The characters are realistically developed and believable. The plot held my interest. Read more
Published 1 month ago by J. Barnes
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More About the Author

As I wrote CASCADE, I had a line by the great Irish Nobel laureate Seamus Heaney running through my head: You lose more of yourself than you redeem/Doing the decent thing. I wanted CASCADE to explore "what is the 'decent' thing" and how does it differ from "the right thing." And who decides what is right?

My characters struggle with reconciling their passions with their responsibilities. They face tough choices in a time period when average people, and the countries they lived in, were forced to make difficult choices.

I hope CASCADE provides readers with plenty to think about, discuss, and maybe even argue about. Thank you for reading.

Other biographical info: I was the longtime associate fiction editor at Ploughshares, Boston's award-winning literary journal. My short fiction has been published in The North American Review, Five Points, Redbook, The Crescent Review, and these anthologies: MicroFiction, Brevity and Echo, The Art of Friction, Sudden Flash Youth, and Fictionality/Reality/ Possibility. I am grateful for grants I received from the St. Botolph Foundation and the Massachusetts Cultural Council, and to the editors who nominated my stories for Pushcart Prizes. My story collection was a finalist for 2010's Flannery O'Connor Award for Short Fiction.

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