Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Cascade, by Maryanne O'Hara

Desdemona was raised to love her father's Shakespearean playhouse.  Having suffered so much loss in her life, she is determined to not lose that playhouse.  But when her town is surveyed for consideration in the creation of a reservoir, she risks losing everything.  If chosen, the town will be flooded, which will destroy everything including the playhouse, but will also allow her to escape the life that is suffocating her.  Desire, freedom, creativity, and duty all tear at Desdemona as she chooses her course of action.

This books is so full of imagery and literary reference, my mind was, for lack of a better word, flooded.  The ties to Shakespeare are pretty apparent, between the playhouse, Desdemona's name, the paternal relationship with shades of King Lear, and the overall tragic tone of the story.  Desdemona also references Russian literature regarding parts of her situation.  But the literary work that would not leave my mind while reading this was The Awakening by Kate Chopin.  Between the overwhelming water imagery in the novel, and Desdemona's struggles against her traditional feminine role, I think the correlation makes a lot of sense.

I found the character of Desdemona to be so intriguing.  It seems to me she has to chose between allowing her town to drown or allowing herself to drown.  All of her relationships in the book are incredibly complex.  I found myself increasingly drawn into Dez's world as the story continued.  The story started out a little slow, which in retrospect set's the stage for how mundane Dez's life in Cascade truly is.  As the story unfolds, and complexities develop, it is difficult to put the book down.

With the artistic aspect to the story, imagery is so very important in this book.  I think the author creates beautiful and detailed mental images; I literally could see Dez's paintings in my mind.  In addition, I think the image on the cover of the book really beautifully describes the story.  In fact, the cover image is what initially drew me to the book in the first place, which is quite rare for me.  The story will appeal to fans of feminist literature, as well as those who enjoy fiction about the art world. 

I received a review copy of this book courtesy of TLC Book Tours in exchange for an honest review.  See the rest of the tour here.

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  1. This cover is just so entrancing. I loved this book and its Shakespearean references...but most of all I enjoyed the qualms artists deal with when they get married. It's so hard to find guilt-free time to spend with one's art and I think O'Hara captured that so well.

    I like your comment about the struggle Dez has between allowing her town to drown or herself. Well put.

  2. Thank you so much for this lovely review, Tiffany. I'm in the thick of holing myself up, working on the new book, and much of that process can be despair-inducing.. It's wonderful when what we write connects with a reader.

    Thank you for being on my tour !

  3. You seem like the ideal reader for this book since you seemed to pick up on so many of the references! This is a book I would love to discuss in a book club because I know I'd get more out of it by having other readers' knowledge, if that makes sense.

    Thanks for being on the tour!