Friday, June 13, 2014

The Day the Falls Stood Still by Cathy Marie Buchanan

This was another selection for my book club, and I just didn't enjoy this one at all.  It took me a long time to get interested in the book, and even then, I still wasn't all that interested.

This is the story of Bess Heath, a young woman growing up in Niagara Falls in the early 1900's, just leading into World War I.  Bess's family is one of wealth and privilege until her father suddenly loses his job and the family finds themselves falling on hard times.  While struggling to keep her family afloat, Bess meets and falls in love with Tom Cole.  Tom is not in the same league as Bess's family, but he is a man who knows the Falls and the river and has special abilities to see dangers there that others cannot see.

Their story is sweet and endearing, but it is buried beneath a story of the development of Niagara Falls, the building of hydroelectric plants, and how the development is beginning to destroy the natural beauty and majesty of the falls.  Tom struggles to fight against that development while needing to work for the plants to support his family after his return from the war.  I found the details of this struggle to be really, truthfully, uninteresting.  I normally enjoy historical fiction, but I really found it hard to get emotionally invested in this story.  I also felt the tragedy that happened at the end of the book was heavily foreshadowed, so it wasn't surprising when it happened.

The woman in our group who chose this book is from the Niagara region, and I can see why she would find it interesting for that reason.  There is a lot of talk about the different areas of Niagara Falls and if you were really familiar with that area, it would be fun to read about that.  But with me having only a tourist's knowledge of the area, that wasn't an important feature for me.

It's a fairly light book, but definitely not a page turner.


  1. Hi Sue,
    I definitely liked this book more than you did - perhaps because of the Niagara lore we grew up on. I felt that I knew Tom Cole because of the stories of Red Hill when we were young. I am mesmerized by the falls and enjoyed that aspect. I also enjoyed the dressmaking sections and found it interesting to see the dynamics in Bess' family as they 'fell on hard times'.
    I did feel that it started strong but didn't keep that momentum throughout.
    The hydroelectric plant may have been a stronger theme than necessary, although it is controversial and important. Love your reviews! Betty

    1. I'm glad to hear that you liked it. I had never heard the legend of Red Hill and didn't read it until I got to the end of the book. Maybe I would have felt differently if I had read it before. I'm eager to hear what the other ladies in my book club think about it when we meet in a couple of weeks.

      The book I started last night, "The Little Old Lady Who Broke All the Rules" is definitely going to get a more positive review from me. I'm loving it so far.