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3.60  ·  Rating details ·  1,718 ratings  ·  352 reviews
A novel of art and desire in the 1930s

What would you give up to become the person you knew you were meant to be?

It’s 1935, and Dez Spaulding has sacrificed her plans to work as an artist in New York to care for her bankrupt, ailing father in Cascade, Massachusetts. When he dies, Dez finds herself caught in a marriage of convenience, bound to the promise she made to save he
Hardcover, 353 pages
Published August 16th 2012 by Viking
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Average rating 3.60  · 
Rating details
 ·  1,718 ratings  ·  352 reviews

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Lara Kleinschroth
Jun 03, 2012 rated it really liked it
Shelves: first-reads
What drives the artist -- a need to leave something behind, something preserved of one's self, or simply for the fame and fortune in the here and now? Art lives long after the artist has passed on. The central theme to this extraordinary book is expressed by the main character, Desdemona Hart Spaulding: 'We people take up space, and then when we're gone, there's just the space left, and sometimes you can't quite comprehend how that can happen.' This is illustrated on a grand scale, with the floo ...more
Nov 03, 2012 rated it it was amazing
I believe this is tied with Tell the Wolves I'm Home for my favorite book of the year. I can't say enough about it, beautifully written, meaningful and enjoyable. An incredibly moving story, heartbreaking and, ultimately uplifting. I just can't recommend this enough. Enjoy! ...more
Audra (Unabridged Chick)
It is 1934 in Cascade, Massachusetts, a small town in the western part of the state. Picturesque, bucolic, it was once a thriving summer vacation spot, with a gorgeous Shakespearean theater managed by the big-hearted, passionate William Hart. Then the crash happened, the Depression hit, and like everywhere in the U.S., Cascade started going through hard times.

For Desdemona Hart Spaulding, talented daughter of William, her sacrifice to survive came in exchange for her happiness. An artist who tra
Apr 16, 2013 rated it liked it
To be very honest, When I began reading this novel, I was actually rather bored. The first chapter certainly didn't grab me and thrill me any and it was kind of slow plodding along for a while after that. I didn't dislike it at all and the writing is good, but there wasn't much excitement at first.

As the story progressed, I had trouble finding a character that I could identify with, but as time went on, I grew to like this book. The plot, although the pacing is slower,is interesting and unlike
Mar 18, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: novels
There is so much going on in this novel, it's hard to know where to begin to talk about it. It's about a woman who believes in her art and isn't willing to bow to the will of a man. It's about art and its power to communicate. It's about love, and how it doesn't always conquer all. It's about what endures--including Shakespeare. A very enjoyable read, with a protagonist--flawed though she is--you can cheer for. ...more
Erika Robuck
Sep 20, 2012 rated it it was amazing
In the Boston suburb of Cascade in 1935, Desdemona Hart Spaulding has put off her art career in New York to care for her dying father, and in the process, has married a steady local man to rest her father’s concerns about her own well being, and to resurrect the theater in town, to which her father has devoted his life.

When her father dies, not only has she realized the terrible error of her marriage, but she learns that the town of Cascade is in the running to be destroyed so that it can become
Christina (A Reader of Fictions)
Cascade caught my attention when Aubra of Unabridged Chick wrote a glowing review of the novel. Of course, the incredibly gorgeous cover does not hurt either. My tastes do not align with Aubra's all of the time, but, when she raves about a novel, my interest perks. Thus, when I had the opportunity to get onto a tour for Cascade, I jumped for it. Though I did not get quite as swept up into the flow of Cascade, I did love its simple beauty and pitch perfect portrayal of the the time period.

Melissa Crytzer Fry
Jul 21, 2013 rated it it was amazing
This is, by far, one of my favorite books this year. What a fabulous debut from Maryanne O’Hara. What’s not to love? I was immediately hooked by the first lyrical sentences, the Shakespearean references and parallels, the 1930s historical backdrop of the Depression, WWII, the Dust Bowl – events ripe with tension and conflict. And, of course, I was pulled in by the central thread of this fictional tale: a town is threatened to be flooded and turned into a reservoir to make way for the water needs ...more
Oct 15, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: reviewed

This was a First Reads win, and I am so grateful to have won it. 'Cascade' certainly provides a lot to think about, and is one of the rare books that inspires me to dig into the real life events behind the fiction.

There are so many plots and themes seamlessly woven into a beautiful narrative. The obliteration of a town to create a reservoir. A marriage of convenience with a man who doesn't understand you, then passion and adultery with a man who does. Small town dissatisfaction, big city dis
Guylou (Two Dogs and a Book)
First of all, before I tell you how much I like this book, I would like to thank Penguin Group for giving me an advance copy of this great book. It is always nice to get a free book!

I really enjoyed this book. Maybe because I related so much to the main character, Dez. Her life and ambitions are so similar to mine and deep down; I wish that my future will be similar to hers. The characters were real and likable and sometime not so much. The author portrayed the time period very well and overall
Aug 16, 2012 rated it it was amazing
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 tow
Sep 14, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Such an addictive book! I could not put it down until I was finished. It's so fun to hop into the life of someone during the 30's and learn what it was like. A beautiful love story between a woman and her art, family, and passions. It's perfect for anyone to read, young or old, male or female. Beautifully written! ...more
Aug 08, 2012 rated it it was amazing
So many stellar debut historical novels out this August! This is another. Review forthcoming.
Jul 02, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Sometimes books speak to us -- uniquely, exclusively. The elements of a particular story combine to seem formed just for you . . . and so it was with Maryanne O'Hara's Cascade. I should preface my review by acknowledging my deep, overwhelming fear of water. Of drowning. Of being pulled under. The idea of an entire town being purposely dismantled and flooded to form a reservoir -- of a place that once existed but has since been razed, morphed into a lake -- is both fascinating and horrifying.

Sheila DeChantal
Dec 29, 2012 rated it really liked it
What would you be willing to sacrifice to be who you want to be?

When Desdemona was at the peak of her breakthrough as an artist in 1935, she made a hasty decision to marry Asa Spaulding, a solid and stable man, and make a home in the town of Cascade to be there for her bankrupt father whose health is quickly failing. While Desdemona felt in her head this was the right decision for the circumstances, her heart strongly disagreed.

And who's head has not been overrun by their hearts wants?

With Casca
May 02, 2013 rated it liked it
Giveaway Opportunity May 2 - May 12: http://flashlightcommentary.blogspot....

Find the enhanced version of this and other reviews at: http://flashlightcommentary.blogspot....

Depression era lit is not my usual stomping ground, but the minute I read the description of Maryanne O'Hara's Cascade, I knew I'd have to read the book. I'd been raised on stories like this, anecdotes of my grandfather's ranch being flooded to promote economic growth in the Missouri River Valley, whole communities just slipp
Laura de Leon
Nov 14, 2012 rated it really liked it
Cascade is an interesting, well-told look at the life of a woman artist from 1934-1947. It's a glimpse into America of that era, a nation that is changing in many ways.

It is about a small town, and the need to escape that life. It's about big choices, and the big choices other people make, and the ones you think you can change, and the ones you have no influence over.

It is about all kinds of people. The main thing they have in common is that they have strengths and they have flaws. All were inte
Lorca Damon
Oct 27, 2012 rated it it was amazing
It’s my job to read a book with every intention of picking it apart, word by word, professionally tossing around compliments or disdain. But with Maryanne O’Hara’s novel Cascade (Viking), I was so drawn in by the best storytelling I’ve found in a long time that I forgot it was my job to review it. I was simply too wrapped up in enjoying it.

Desdemona Hart used to be a promising young artist who even made it so far as to study in Paris. She gave up her art to take care of her sick father and to ta
Feb 14, 2013 rated it it was amazing
I really enjoyed this one! It's a quiet book that packs a the reader a lot to think about, during and after reading. I can't discuss the themes explored in the book without revealing spoilers, but I know I will be thinking about this book for a long while. It's not a book to read when you are anticipating a quick, entertaining read but one you want to slow down and savor. It won't satisfy readers looking for a fast-paced novel filled with action, but if you want to take the time ...more
Dec 29, 2012 rated it did not like it
i found this book outside my gate yesterday which was good timing as i had run out of library books and they are closed until jan 2. i didnt even know i won!

it takes place in 1935 and its a small town. the womans dad died leaving his playhouse theater which is falling apart and no longer open to her husband who she married so she could take care of her dad. she is a painter who doesnt seem very happy.

i dont think i would have continued reading this book if i had something else but im willing to
Robert Thacker
Aug 08, 2013 rated it liked it
I have always been fascinated by the creation of the Quabbin Reservoir during the 1930s and the four small Massachusetts towns that were drowned under its rising waters. This book gives you the flavor of what it was like to live in one of those towns, and having to deal with both the Great Depression and the looming construction of the Reservoir.
Everything is seen through the eyes of a talented and artistic woman who embraces the turmoil of the time as an opportunity to find love and fulfillmen
Julie Rose
Aug 10, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: most-loved
I really liked this book.

The worlds of rural Massachusetts and urban New York in the 1930s and 40s were convincingly rendered, and I loved that the action revolved around not a famous personage, but regular people being impacted by a terrible event. I'm also a total sucker for stories about artists, and stories about the impact of place on people and their psyches, so this was right in my wheelhouse, as they say.

Dez is a wonderful character; I can't say that I always liked her or agreed with he
Aug 15, 2012 rated it it was amazing
This story revolves around a young intelligent woman, Dez, who longs to be free to pursue her passion - art, creating, and having meaningful sustaining relationships. Her struggle is surrounded by her town's death sentence -- her rural Massachusetts town of Cascade is on the short list to be flooded, for it lies in a valley soon to be the reservoir and water supply for nearby Boston.

The story focuses on questions of what is art, what is lasting, what is real (or what should be real), and what is
Nov 25, 2012 rated it did not like it
This is such a good setup for a story -- a community that finds out that its town is going to be destroyed by the government -- that the weakness of this book is even more of a disappointment than it might otherwise be. The characters, all of them, are either lifeless or repellent; the plot is boring when it isn't confusing; and the language, the language. No woman since the beginning of time has ever had the thought, "There is a good possibility I am not pregnant." I mean .... Huh? Also: "It wa ...more
Jessica McCann
Apr 23, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book is beautifully written and tells a unique story set in the Depression era. While the author makes occasional reference to the familiar soup lines, dust storms and joblessness that plagued the nation in the late 1920s and 1930s, the focus is primarily on how the drought and politics impacted Cascade, a small farming community in Massachusetts, and a woman consumed with saving her father's Shakespearean theater there. The author's attention to detail about the period places the reader in ...more
Leslie Mcgilberry
Nov 01, 2012 rated it it was amazing
So many ideas are expertly crafted into one intriguing plot - infidelity, parent/child relationships, art, small towns, antisemitism, the Depression and a bizarre but apparently true story of an entire town flooded to create a reservoir for Boston. I didn't want to put this book down and thought about it for a long time after I finished it. ...more
Clayton Cheever
May 17, 2013 rated it it was amazing
This is the best book I've read in a while. Lots of themes to engage with and all treated with great care and respect. Recommended for readers who like strong women and considerations of what in our lives is meaningful and persistent. Great grounding in place as well, while very accessible to outsiders. ...more
Dec 04, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Loved, loved this story. I related so well with the main character Desdemona. While the main story is set around saving her home town of Cascade, there's also mystery, intrigue and even better it's about a woman finding the strength and courage to break out of the box of societal norm. ...more
Jan 28, 2013 rated it it was amazing
This was surprisingly great. Very evocative of time and place, small town in Massachusetts during Great Depression and a young woman artist who dreams of bigger things than her marriage and life. Loved it.
Oct 27, 2013 rated it really liked it

Interesting look at a woman's life and cultural expectations in rural Massachusetts in the 1930's. It took me some time to get interested in the novel. I'm glad I continued because I became totally involved in the characters and plot. 3 1/2 - 4 stars.
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Little Matches is inspired by, a blog that I kept while my daughter Caitlin was waiting for a lung transplant. Since Caitlin’s passing, I have also been certified by the University of Vermont’s Larner College of Medicine as an end-o

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