The Day The Falls Stood Still

by Cathy Buchanan | Literature & Fiction |
ISBN: 9781554683277 Global Overview for this book
Registered by HoserLauren of Burlington, Ontario Canada on 8/14/2009
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3 journalers for this copy...
Journal Entry 1 by HoserLauren from Burlington, Ontario Canada on Friday, August 14, 2009
Received this book to review.

From Chapters:
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.

Journal Entry 2 by HoserLauren from Burlington, Ontario Canada on Monday, August 24, 2009
It's 1915 and hydroelectric power is starting to take a grip on Niagara, Ontario. When Bess Heath's mom comes to pick her up from private school, Bess immediately notices things are different. Her father and sister aren't there like they usually are, and they have to take the trolley home rather than being driven. Bess learns that her father was fired from his job and her sister Isabel was dumped by her fiance. The Heath family goes from a prominent in society to Bess' mom being a dressmaker; a skill that Bess picks up quickly.

Meanwhile, Bess is enamored with Tom Cole, a "riverman" that can predict the movement of the water through the whirlpool, fish dead bodies out of the river, or save people from being swept away. Bess' parents don't approve of Tom and instead try to push her towards the son of an old family friend, which tears Bess apart.

Along with all the character development and drama, the geography adds another layer to the story, acting like a character on its own. Whenever something happens to a character, the river and falls are usually somehow involved. I very much enjoyed the depth this added and having lived less than an hour away from Niagara Falls my entire life I could easily picture where the characters were and the awe they saw in the river.

I also enjoyed reading of the Canadian perspective of what was happening at home during World War One. The book describes how everyone has to save, when they allow themselves treats, and how women were asked to convince their husbands to go overseas to fight.

The entire book has a sense of foreboding and the entire time I felt like something bad was going to happen. I just couldn't put down the book because I had to know what was going to happen to the characters. Interestingly, the novel was based off a real Niagara Riverman who saved many during his life.

Journal Entry 3 by wingAceofHeartswing from Mississauga, Ontario Canada on Wednesday, September 02, 2009
This book is with me now :)

Journal Entry 4 by wingAceofHeartswing from Mississauga, Ontario Canada on Thursday, September 24, 2009
The year is 1915. Bess Heath is brought home from private school for the summer to learn of her father's dismissal from the Niagara Power Company. Her mother now takes in sewing in order to feed the family. Bess's sister Isabel is a former shell of her vivacious self, having been dumped by her fiancee.

On the way home from boarding school Bess meets Tom Cole who helps her and her mother with her trunk. Bess is drawn to Tom but he is not of their social strata and therefore unsuitable. Tom is a riverman. He understands the river and its vagaries. He becomes a local hero in performing several daring river rescues. Tom hates what the power companies are doing to the river.

This story weaves the Niagara River around the lives of Tom and Bess. It is simply a wonderful read. The history of World War I and the start-up of electric power at Niagara Falls was fascinating to read about. There were several times I had to tell other people what I had just learned. Did you know.....?

The Niagara River is a big part of the book and almost seems like an additional character. Buchanan has written a wonderful piece of Canadian historical fiction. I live near to Niagara Falls and can only wonder if double the water were to be flowing down the river what the falls would look like today! Loved, loved, loved it!!!

Journal Entry 5 by HoserLauren from Burlington, Ontario Canada on Friday, October 09, 2009
This book was mailed to Giz-angel today from the non-genre swap... I think

Journal Entry 6 by Giz-angel from Greenwich, Greater London United Kingdom on Sunday, November 15, 2009
Thanks v much - I read another book about the Niagara - City of Light I think it was - which I really enjoyed so I thought this looked great in the swap.

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