Thursday, October 22, 2009

The Day the Falls Stood Still by Cathy Marie Buchanan

Steeped in the intriguing history of Niagara Falls, this is an epic love story 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 the falls. But when she arrives, nothing is as she 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, Bess’s 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 falls for themselves. As the couple’s 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.
From Harper

After finishing The Outlander by Gil Adamson, I thought I had found my favourite Canadian history read of the year. I loved it because it was about an aspect of Canadian history that does not normally include women and because it was written in such a fantastic manner. I honestly did not think anything would come close to matching it. Then, I read the debut novel by Cathy Marie Buchanan and I was blown away all over again! I wouldn't say I like this book better than The Outlander, but I would say that it is a tie. I suppose that means you can expect another glowing review!
This book was just involved in a blog tour, so I know that it is probably getting a bit overdone, but I do have to say a few things about it. One of the things that I loved about it was the fact that I have been to Niagara Falls, so I knew the places that were being talked about. That's something I do enjoy about the books I read from time to time. Sometimes it is nice to step out of your normal comfort zone, but other times it is nice to be able to really see where the book is being set. I also went through a period where I was obsessed with the history of Niagara Falls. Buchanan is pretty accurate in my humble opinion with her facts. When she changes them, though, there is a note at the back to explain that she did and why she did it.
I also loved the characters. I really felt for them. They were living during the Depression and then World War II. It was not a happy time and lots of other things happened to them on top of the global ones. It was a difficult period in their lives, but I think that Buchanan carried it out really well. You could almost think too much bad stuff happened and it was a bit unbelievable, but that isn't how I felt at all! The best thing of all is that this topic is essentially an issue that we are only now getting bent out of shape about. The abuse of the environment for our own gain. It's terrible the things that we have done to nature in order to benefit ourselves. I found learning what the power plants do to the falls fascinating!
There are so many wonderful things I could say about this book, but I hate being one of a bunch of reviews of the same book. People get bored! I couldn't not review it at all, though, because I loved it and I think lots and lots of people still need to read it. Buchanan captured everything so well, it is really a wonderfully written novel that deserves all the praise in the world. If you haven't read it yet, you should!
By the way, isn't that just about the most wonderful cover ever? See, that is what a cover should be like. Not those annoying headless women!
My thanks to Harper Collins Canada for sending me this book!

Browse Inside this book
Get this for your site


  1. This sounds like a great read!
    Very cool that it was set in Niagara Falls and it interested you.

  2. I have heard nothing but good things for this book. I have never been to the Falls but the story is so intriguing. A must read on my list.

  3. This book was great, I'm loving the Canadian authors this year

  4. The Day The Falls Stood Still was a great read. However, there's a mistake in your review. The book starts in 1915 and covers the First World War (and perhaps into the early '20's), not the second and the Depression.

  5. I really liked this book. It reminded me so much of Frances Itani's "Deafening": another Canadian historical set during the Great War.

  6. Thanks for reviewing my novel here, Kailana.

    Hope you get to the Falls, dolleygurl.


  7. This book is on my TBR pile, and I am excited about reading it. Thank you for your review!

  8. I'm so glad to hear good things about this as after I read the book blurb I had to buy it. I'm glad it is as good as it sounds!

  9. I have heard such good things about this book and seen it all over the place. I am glad you really liked it and I think I will as well. Great review, Thanks!