Tag Archives: Cathy Buchanan

Canada Reads Top 40

28 Oct

Hey, did you guys hear that? Don’t worry it was just me squeeing my little reading head off because the Canada Reads Top 40 was announced and – THE DAY THE FALLS STOOD STILL MADE THE LIST!!!!!! Not that I’m really overly surprised, but man I am so freaking happy! The only thing that could make me happier is if it made the top 10.

So I need your help again folks. Please go to the Canada Reads website and vote for The Day the Falls Stood Still. If you’ve read it then you know what a wonderful, amazing, special book it is. If you haven’t read it yet you’ll just have to trust me. In the sea of literature, this book stands out.

I’d promise the hubs famous chocolate chip cookies to everyone who voted, but that’d kinda get expensive. So instead you’ll get air hugs and kisses sent your way.

Q & A with The Day the Falls Stood Still author Cathy Buchanan

23 Sep


As you can tell from my review of The Day the Falls Stood Still, I loved it and was tickled pink to be able to able to ask author Cathy Buchanan a few questions about the novel. Published in Canada by HarperCollins, the book is available at book stores or for purchase online. I strongly suggest you do yourself a favor and pick up a copy.

Colleen: The Day the Falls Stood Still takes place in and around Niagara Falls, and the falls themselves can be said to be one of the main characters of the book. As someone who grew up and writes about the falls, do you ever get used to their awe?

Cathy: I once attended a wedding reception at Queen Victoria Park Restaurant, overlooking the falls, and was taken aback when the out-of-towners spontaneously stood up and applauded when the floodlights were turned on, lighting up the falls. My surprise, I think, came more from being unaccustomed to the reaction of people seeing Niagara Falls for the first time than from having grown immune to the beauty of my own backyard. This moment came during my first years living away from Niagara Falls, the years when I first discovered it was possible to miss a river. I’d visit on most occasions when I was home, lengthening my running route from my parents’ house just so I could glimpse the gorge and whiling away afternoons in the Niagara Glen.  Despite having seen the falls a thousand times, I am still bowled over by their magnificence.  In The Day the Falls Stood Still, Tom describes the falls as something that would cause a man walking by to stop, and maybe fill with wonder for bit and be lifted up from the drudgery of his day.  I continue to feel the wonder that Tom describes.  I think it’s why I wrote The Day the Falls Stood Still.

Colleen: Throughout the book, Tom Cole has a strong connection to the falls, often feeling as if they are speaking to him. Yet Bess often questions not only his belief in his connection to the falls, but her own spirituality. Do you tend more towards Tom’s belief or Bess’s skepticism?

Cathy: My much loved father died as I approached the end of the first draft of The Day the Falls Stood Still. The depth of my grief was astounding to me, as was my inability to grasp the concept of mortality. Where was my father? Why was he gone? Why had he spent seventy-four years on this earth? Why was I here? Was humankind’s existence entirely accidental? I will not pretend for a moment that I’ve figured any of this out. What did happen was that my bewilderment found a home in Bess. To make her real, I read wonderful books─Joan Didion’s The Year of Magical Thinking, C. S. Lewis’s A Grief Observed─but I found myself taking solace in their articulation of my own heartache. I read more, again for Bess, this time about faith, the loss of faith and its emergence—Karen Armstrong’s The Spiral Staircase: My Climb Out of Darkness, C. S. Lewis’s Surprised by Joy: The Shape of My Early Life, Armand M. Nicholi’s The Question of God: C. S. Lewis and Sigmund Freud Debate God, Love, Sex, and the Meaning of Life. There was a time when I would have unequivocally stated that humankind is nothing more than the product of random variations and natural selection, but as I read and wrote and pondered I saw a flickering sliver of light, moments where I glimpsed something I will call faith as a possibility for me.  I suppose my beliefs are closer to those held by Bess at the end of the book than by Tom.

Colleen: The Day the Falls Stood Still is one of my favorite reads this year. What are some of the unforgettable books that you have read in 2009?

Cathy: I discovered Donna Morrissey this year, first reading What They Wanted.  I loved it, and I loved Sylvanus Now, too.  No one does the Newfie voice like Morrissey.  No one makes you feel the feral beauty of Newfoundland in quite the same way.  Another favourite was Laura Moriarty’s While I’m Falling. I happened to be reading it when Elle came out with its September reader’s picks, books that were subsequently pitted against one another in a reader vote.  I was thrilled to find The Day the Falls Stood Still included in the picks, particularly considering that the other two books on the list were new novels by former Grand Prix book-of-the-year winners.  My book came in second to While I’m Falling, the very book I was savouring.  The most recent book to knock my socks off was Elizabeth Strout’s Olive Kitterage, a collection of linked stories.  In every story she shows a remarkable understanding of human nature.

The Day the Falls Stood Still by Cathy Buchanan

23 Sep

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.

Description on book jacket

Intoxicating is one way to describe this book. Beautiful, haunting and addictive are others words that come to mind.

When I sat down to write this book review, I honestly had no idea what to say.  I loved this book so much that my first few attempts ended up with me gushing about how much I enjoyed The Day the Falls Stood Still without giving any reasons why. I actually had to step away from the book and the review for a week to absorb it and think about why I enjoyed it so much.

And there are many reasons why I love this book as much as I do. Set in 1915,Falls the author spares no detail when describing the era, be it the gender roles of the time or details of the war. I felt like I was pulled back in time and had no problem visualizing Bess working on a dress or Tom writing letters home while over seas.

While I usually shy away from love stories, generally preferring not to read them, I found myself absorbed in Tom and Bess’s story, frantically turning page after page to see what happened next. I think the reason that their romance was so appealing to me was the fact that it wasn’t the only love story represented in the book. There were also threads of sisterly love and parental love, not to mention Tom’s love of the falls and nature in general.

Buchanan’s attention to detail, particularly when it comes to sewing and dressmaking, something that Bess and her mother both did, was astounding. After reading this book I almost felt as if I could sit down with a bolt of material, a needle and thread and start sewing! Sometimes this kind of detail can be overwhelming, slowing the story down, but this was not the case here.

The same can be said of the love and care she took when describing Niagara Falls. I have never been to the falls, but I feel like I know them after reading this book. It was obvious that Tom’s love of the falls stems from the author’s own appreciation of the area.

It’s hard to explain, but this book had a huge impact on me. When I had finished it, I was literally floored. Buchanan’s love of the falls and her characters came through in every word and every page and I felt privileged to be able to read it. I have already recommended it to just about anyone who will listen and know that I will be giving copies of it to close friends come Christmas. It was by far one of my favorite reads of the year.

Browse inside The Day the Falls Stood Still.