Friday, August 28th, 2009
The Short Take:
This enjoyable novel encompasses two love stories: one involving a man and woman, the other between the same man and the Niagara River. Ultimately, it is this second story that is more compelling.
Often novels with an environmental slant hit you over the head with a message about the evil of transforming nature to advance industry, which can lead to some pretty preachy and tiresome reading. Buchanan’s book reflects the conflicted feelings many people have about damming rivers to produce the power that eases lives (if they bother to think about it, that is). In fact, her central character, Bess Heath, finds it hard to align her own feelings about the conveniences electric power brings with her lover’s passion for protecting the river he adores. At the same time, her Tom must reconcile his desire to protect the river he knows like his own body with his need to provide for a family.
It’s conflicts like these that make Bess such an approachable and interesting character. Alongside her every move of strong-willed determination march worrisome doubts and her love for Tom, both which temper her actions. She forms a worthy cornerstone for this book.
Other engaging aspects of The Day the Falls Stood Still include the information you garner about Niagara Falls’ colorful history as well as the portrait of life in the first part of the 20th century, from the vantage point of both the well-to-do and the not-so privileged. All good reasons to seek out this first novel.
A Little Plot:
Bess comes home from her exclusive boarding school to find her family in much reduced circumstances: Her father has lost his job and her beloved sister has been jilted by her fiance. Mom strives to make ends meet through her exceptional sewing skills, a talent Bess shares.
Her family pins their hopes on Bess making an advantageous match — and the right man is interested. But Bess has her eye on river man Tom Cole. She struggles to reconcile her duty and love for her family with her own desires — a struggle that continues to reshape itself as tragic circumstances unfold.
For more about the author and her book, click here.