Tag Archives: Niagra Falls

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.