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The Day the Falls Stood Still

3.70  ·  Rating details ·  5,301 ratings  ·  896 reviews
Tom Cole, the grandson of a legendary local hero, has inherited an uncanny knack for reading the Niagara River's whims and performing daring feats of rescue at the mighty falls. And like the tumultuous meeting of the cataract's waters with the rocks below, a chance encounter between Tom and 17-year-old Bess Heath has an explosive effect. When they first meet on a trolley p ...more
Hardcover, 307 pages
Published August 25th 2009 by Hachette Books
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Cathy Buchanan
Jun 10, 2009 added it  ·  (Review from the author)
This is my debut novel. Hope you love it. On the shelves September 2009 in Canda and the US and February 2010 in the UK and Italy.

What's is about? Read on.

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 gradua
Cathrine ☯️
Jul 09, 2015 rated it really liked it
A love story centered around the early 1900s when men in power were determined to harness the power of the mighty Niagara with hydroelectric power plants. Tom Cole has loved the river his entire life but also loves Bess. A love which will lead him to compromise his personal beliefs and convictions because the only way he can support his family is by working for the company that is against everything he believes in. Bess is also divided in her heart over her need for financial security versus the ...more
May 04, 2015 rated it it was amazing
4.5 rounded up to 5.

One of the greatest pleasures of reading is to be unexpectedly wrapped up in a book. On the flip side there’s the disappointment of over-hyped books that do not deliver for the reader. There are many books I have not read for fear of such a reaction, and then there are these other books that come along less frequently. They make me suspend disbelief and wrap me up in another time, another life, another level of reality.

Such was my reading experience in this book. The charact
Sep 11, 2010 rated it did not like it
Shelves: didn-t-finish
I recieved this book as a review copy from the publicist. Started out very interesting, but I am putting it away halfway through. It was too depressing. A suicide, girl who's life is spiraling downward and sexual content I didn't want to read. The book has an overall sad tone though it is poetic.
Robert Blumenthal
Feb 05, 2017 rated it it was amazing
This is the first novel by the author of the wonderful The Painted Girls, and it is a lovely one indeed. I seem to have developed a literary crush on Cathy Marie Buchanan, her novels really sit quite well with me. Though this novel is much quieter than her next one, it is the simple sort of tale that rivals such works as Brooklyn by Colm Toibin and Someone by Alice McDermott. This is not the novel for those that need lots of tension and foreshadowing. It flows like the Niagara River on which it ...more
Aug 15, 2009 rated it really liked it
We live in an age where nearly all of our threats are human. Nature has no recourse against man-made factories, bridges, levees, and weapons. We are safe. We are secure. In the middle-north of the country, though, nestled between the United States and Canada is a reminder that we are human but only human. When I was a little kid I fell in love with Gordon Lightfoot’s Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald. There is something helplessly beautiful and tragic about the power and majesty evoked by lore surr ...more
I love Niagara Falls, every time I visit I am completely awestruck. It is an amazing wonder to behold, it's literally breath taking. If you have never been I would urge you to go. I have seen much of the landscape the author describes in this book and I remember some of the folk lore from my many visits. My family and I saw Jay Cochrane walk a tightrope to the Skylon Tower in 2005. Niagara Falls has a magic and wonder that is hard to describe.

I really enjoyed this novel that incorporates so much
Tara Chevrestt
Aug 28, 2009 rated it it was amazing
This is a magical, well told tale about a young woman named Bess, a riverman named Tom, and the history of the Niagara Falls. Bess meets Tom at the beginning of World War One when her family has fallen on hard times. They both reside on the Canadian side of the Niagara Falls in a town being overcome by hydroelectric power plants. Bess comes from a family that made its riches from the power plants, whereas Tom strongly believes in the beauty of the river and leaving nature untouched. This differe ...more
Danielle Lentz
Good book with a wonderful and fascinating setting of Niagara Falls-on the Canadian side. The author carefully intertwines this setting into the story of a young woman, Bess, her family and husband Tom Cole-the"riverman" . The story takes place at a time when there are many changes to people's lives in terms of technology. The power of the river is being harnessed to "benefit" people's lives (for electricity) yet the Falls and the river still have the power to take away people's lives. It also t ...more
Aug 25, 2009 rated it did not like it
Sorry, Goodreads author. This book struggles in many ways, and I'm not going to finish it. My biggest issue is the anachronistic dialogue. I'd like to read a book about the small but heroic efforts of women making it on their own in 1915, where cooking and sewing are the domestic skills that empower them, but it's not enough to keep this novel alive. Bess's attraction to Tom is trite and predictable, and the historical references feel like slaphazard inserts thrown in after the first draft was w ...more
May 29, 2015 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2015-books
10 july 2015 -- maybe 4.5 3.5-stars. what a wonderful, sensitive, evocative novel. i am leading a group read of this book during july, so will hold off on a longer review for now, until our discussions wrap up at the end of the month. but, i will say that i have been in a real run of so-so or 'meh' reads in 2015. to be so engrossed and captivated by a story was such a treat right now. the group chat for the novel has already added nicely to the read.

26 july 2015 -- lowered rating. as time has p
Aug 29, 2009 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: read-2009, tbr-2009
Sometimes a book just wraps you up inside its covers and you don't recognize the regular world when you look up. That is what happened to me and this story. Bess Heath is a boarding school girl used to a better class of life but when her father is laid off from work they must all pitch in. Bess is 17 and a marriage to the right boy would help the family but the young river man holds her attention.
The characters are interesting and life-like in this story of love and death and progress versus nat
Sep 27, 2009 rated it did not like it
I picked this book up because I had just been to Niagara Falls and thought it would be a neat connection. But I couldn't get past the first 100 pages (of a 300 page book). So I looked at some online reviews and everyone said it is really good in the beginning and gets slow in the middle, with a disappointing ending. Since I absolutely forced myself for the "good" 100 pages, I hung it up. "Too many books, so little time".
Melissa Lee
I’ve had the opportunity to visit Niagara Falls several times over the years, but I knew very little about its history, especially during the early days of hydro-electricity in Canada. I appreciated how the author fused the prominent issues of that time into the story. It explored the environmental and moral sacrifices these advances brought.

Buchanan crafted a fictional story that was inspired by the real life River Man William “Red” Hill and his heroic rescues. I enjoy when a historical fiction
Sep 02, 2009 rated it it was ok
This book had everything, a beautiful setting, a love story, cultures and classes clashing, occult overtones, but ultimately it was disappointing. I kept wondering what the author's point was. Sometimes, if the story is engrossing enough, meandering can be forgiven but Buchanan's writing showed seams badly and her characters went in and out of focus, sometimes feeling real then fading into caricatures. Rather than speaking their frustration, confusion, anger, etc. Buchanan repeatedly had them "o ...more
Ruth Seeley
Nov 07, 2012 rated it really liked it
Not sure why I hadn't realized this was a historical novel before embarking on it. Luckily the OD on historical novels that happened in 2011 has faded in my memory and I was able to enjoy it for a variety of reasons - the lush prose, the profundity of some of the observations (particularly those relating to cumulative grief and loss, of which there is a lot in this book - loss of hope, loss of life, loss of opportunity, financial loss, as well as loss of integrity which to some is merely comprom ...more
Aug 09, 2009 rated it liked it
Shelves: canadian-author
I enjoyed this book, which included a partial history of Niagara Falls at the time of electrical development. The falls are described in such detail and force that they are a character in the story.
I found, though, that the real people weren't as solid or powerful as the falls. There's so much woe, bad luck and depression in this story. It seems overdone because it is never-ending. Bess had hardship, yes, but also good times but even those are colored grey and sad....always with a cover of fore
♥ Marlene♥
Nov 15, 2013 rated it really liked it
Shelves: fiction, kindle, non-genre
Really loved all the information I got about Niagara Falls and that the story was set there. Beautiful but deadly settings. I did not love this book as I did The Painted Girls but I did enjoy the book. . I was not as invested in the main characters as I was in her other book but I still very much enjoyed it. I love Canadian authors do not ask me why but the ones I have read most of the time write great books as does Cathy Marie Buchanan.Sometimes I wondered what the point was but I guess the mor ...more
Suzze Tiernan
Jun 11, 2009 rated it it was amazing
Loved this book! Best book I have read so far this year. I really felt what it might have been like to live in Niagara Falls, Ontario in the very early 1900's. The characters were so real, I felt like I was right there alongside them, and the falls, as I read. If you like historical fiction, you must read this book. I plan on recommending this to all my friends!
Jul 31, 2009 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: All my girlfriends
This is a must read for anyone who loves historical fiction, great character development. I smiled, I sobbed. I never wanted it to end. I haven't felt so emotionally connected to a book since reading Margaret Atwood's Alias Grace.
Jan 14, 2011 rated it really liked it
Shelves: jul-15
Although heartbreaking this story is very well-written. It will stay with me for a very long time.
Jan 23, 2018 rated it liked it
Set in Canada during the WWI years, this story centers around Bess Heath and her family's life in Niagara Falls. Their privileged lives have taken a turn toward reduced circumstances, after Bess's father loses his job with the power company. Her mother now must sew and take dress orders to make a living; her sister Isabel's recently broken engagement has left a scar on the whole house. When Bess meets riverman Tom Cole, she begins to make decisions for herself, knowing the consequences will be d ...more
Marie Burton
Jul 25, 2009 rated it really liked it
The Day the Falls Stood Still is a very promising debut novel by Cathy Marie Buchanan. The story is set in Canada near the Niagara where its wonderful beauty and history is emanated from Cathy's descriptions. This is the story of Bess Heath, who suddenly finds herself at a turning point in her life when everything is forced to change due to the fact that her father lost his job at the power plant. Bess's mother, father and sister are intriguing characters along with Bess herself, and we immediat ...more
I'm a sucker for anything waterfall-related, fictional, non-fictional or pictorial, so Buchanan had me at "hello" with this quite charming historical novel of a middle-class World War I era young woman on the Canadian side of Niagara Falls. Her family hits hard times almost exactly at the same time as she falls for a young man - fictional name Tom Cole, but he is a reworking of an actual historical figure, a riverman named William "Red" Hill - who is knowledgeable about, and a passionate advocat ...more
Nicola Mansfield
Oct 03, 2009 rated it it was amazing
Reason for Reading: The book takes place in Niagara Falls, Canada and that is where I live plus the historical time 1915-1923 is a favourite period I like to read about. I was excited to read a book set in my city and the cover is beautiful and actually blew me away when I saw it in real life.

Comments: I'll start off by admitting I may be a little biased. There is something captivating about reading a book when you recognize the street names, know the buildings mentioned, have been to the natur
Sep 25, 2010 rated it really liked it
Have you ever been enjoying a treat, a cookie or a piece of pie, when the phone rang or someone knocked at the door? And while you are taking care of your interruption, your mind wanders back to that unfinished decadence and you pine to finish?

That’s how I felt while reading the debut novel "The Day the Falls Stood Still" by Cathy Marie Buchanan. My days have been filled with thoughts of this story and I longed to get back to it each night. I know a story is truly great when my life is made up o
Mary Reinert
Jan 22, 2010 rated it liked it
I must admit I purchased this book based on the cover which I thought looked fascinating. I was only a little bit disappointed. The "historical" part of the Falls was interesting and I enjoyed Bess' relationship with her sister, parents and Tom. However, I had a hard time following the more "technical" parts of the river: the eddys, currents, and the general setting of the river. I'm not familiar with the area (or big rivers in general), and some of that was just confusing to me.
[Set against the
Aug 17, 2010 rated it it was amazing
This was an excellent novel based on the history or Niagara Falls at the turn of the century when the power plants and other industries were discovering the energy of the falls. Niagara Falls has a fascinating history and lots of colorful stories about those who has lived and died there through accidents and through stunts that have driven people to challenge the river.

The main character is a young lady in a wealthy family who finds herself torn from society and comfort when her father loses his
Aug 18, 2009 rated it really liked it
I am somewhat biased because I grew up near Niagara Falls, NY, but I would have loved this book even if I was from Atlanta. The book is set on the Canadian side of Niagara Falls from 1915 to 1925. The main character, Bess, endures many successes and tragedies from the age of 17 until she is 26, when the book ends. Her privileged life is abruptly taken away from her, and everyone, including Bess, is pleasantly surprised by her perseverance. While there are frequent references to sacrificing becau ...more
Jul 20, 2009 rated it it was amazing

The Day the Falls Stood Still by Cathy Marie Buchanan
9781401340971, $24.99, September 2009, Hyperion/Voice

This a wonderful historical novel in the vein of another book club favorite of ours,Grand Ambition (Lisa Michaels). Set immediatley before and after WWI, Bess's story is powered by the falls and whirlpools and mists of Niagra and by the mysterious riverman, Tom Cole, who shares his love for the river with her.

Buchanan does a marvelous job of juxtaposing the cultured life Bess is accustome
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What was Isabel's secret? 1 23 Aug 10, 2014 09:08PM  
Growing up in Niagara Falls 2 36 Aug 18, 2009 08:08PM  
What do you think of the copy that will be on the cover? 3 21 Jul 26, 2009 06:55PM  
Covers 1 18 Jun 10, 2009 08:43AM  

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CATHY MARIE BUCHANAN’s The Painted Girls is a #1 National Bestseller in Canada, a New York Times bestseller, and has garnered rave reviews and been showered with special attention—everything from selection as a People Magazine pick to inclusion in Entertainment Weekly’s Must List to being named a best book of 2013 by NPR, Good Housekeeping and Goodreads. Her debut novel, The Day the Falls Stood St ...more

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