March 7, 2010

The Day the Falls Stood Still - Cathy Marie Buchanan

I have to admit that I was disappointed with this book. After reading Sailor Girl last week, a book that I would pick up in the evening to read a few pages before bed and then find myself an hour later, struggling to find a place to put it down; I found it very hard to get into this book.

I think that it was mainly the characters. Other than Tom, the "romantic lead", I found the characters (including the first-person narrator) to be very wooden and 2-dimensional. There also seemed to be no point to the book - after Tom spends his life fighting against the hydroelectric companies who are stealing water from the river to generate electricity, we are told at the end that Niagara Falls now only has between 25 and 50 percent of the original water flowing over. I guess that Tom lived and died in vain.

Was there anything that I liked about this book? I guess that I can say the historical aspect of it. The book is set between 1915 and 1923, and even though I was obviously never alive in that time period, this book made me feel that I was really there. I have read more books set in WW1 than WW2, and so that time period is very vivid in my mind. This book, describing the advent of electricity, and life in an increasingly urban setting, and ladies fashion (Bess, the narrator, is a dressmaker), sharpens my image of the period.

So a mixed review this time. Am I glad that I read this book? Yes. Will I read it again? Probably not. Will I recommend it to a friend? Again, probably not. I'm going to take a break from new books now, and re-read some old favourites this week!


´´Saray´´ said...

I enjoy stumbling upon negative reviews because it saves me money & time.
Books are unbelievably expensive in Spain (a novel by a well-known author between 16 and 24 euros, that´s roughly 22-30 Canadian dollars; the rest of things in this country are very cheap) so when I get it wrong arrgh... and I did just recently...twice! :(
I am doing the Canadian Book Challenge organized by John and recently reviewed one on my blog which I love and recommend if you have not read it: No Great Mischief by Alistair MacLeod.
Greetings from Spain, Kate :)

Kate said...

Thanks for visiting Saray! I've not read No Great Mischief but enjoyed his collection of short stories Island.

I understand your problem about the lack of availability of books - I volunteered in Africa for 3 years where the closest bookstore was 2 plane rides away; and even if I could get there, books were ridiculously expensive. I depended on the ever-circulating pool of books in the ex-pat community as well as the book that my sister would put in the mail to me each month. I became much less discriminating in my reading - if it had words, preferably in English, I would read it! It is a luxury to be back in Canada and be able to read what I want to read, rather than what is available.

Connie said...

I have been going back and forth on this book, and I was glad to read your review, because everything else has been mostly positive. Still, I had this feeling that something in this novel wouldn't jibe--it's always nice to know I'm right! :-P

Thanks for your thoughtful, honest review. Great blog!

-Connie @

Kate said...

Connie - I know the feeling. When I first came across this book in the bookstore, I was going to give it a miss, but then I read so many positive reviews of it that I decided to go ahead and read it. Thanks for visiting!